Marc Elias, the attorney hired by former Sen. Al Franken during his 2008 recount battle, is going to bat for another Democratic candidate — this time joining the recount effort in Florida.
Over the weekend, Florida’s secretary of state Ken Detzner ordered a recount in both the Senate race and the governor’s race. In the battle for the Senate seat, outgoing Republican Gov. Rick Scott leads his challenger, Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson, by 0.15 percentage points based on the unofficial results. The narrow margined triggered a recount.
Elias, one of the Democratic Party’s top election lawyers with decades of experience challenging election results, was tapped by Nelson to head up his recount team. President Donald Trump was quick to call out Elias’ role in Florida, writing on Twitter that “Democrats sent their best election stealing lawyer.”
“As soon as Democrats sent their best Election stealing lawyer, Marc Elias, to Broward County they miraculously started finding Democrat votes. Don’t worry, Florida – I am sending much better lawyers to expose the FRAUD!” Trump tweeted.
As soon as Democrats sent their best Election stealing lawyer, Marc Elias, to Broward County they miraculously started finding Democrat votes. Don’t worry, Florida – I am sending much better lawyers to expose the FRAUD!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 9, 2018
Minnesotans are familiar with Elias from his time spent leading Franken’s long recount battle. Six months after the 2008 election, Franken was declared the winner of the U.S. Senate race, defeating the incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman by 312 votes.
Originally on election night, Coleman led Franken by 725 votes. However, before an official recount even began, vote totals began to change in favor of Franken. Minneapolis’ director of elections found an envelope of ballots in her car which had not been counted. In Two Harbors, election officials claimed to have miscommunicated 246 votes. The large number of errors left many scratching heads, especially given the lack of errors in other contests in the same precinct. Only Franken’s race had any recorded changes. Franken picked up another 100 votes from ballot errors in Partridge Township and Mountain Iron.
In a July 2009 editorial in the Wall Street Journal, Franken was slammed for having “effectively stolen an election.”
“The unfortunate lesson is that you don’t need to win the vote on Election Day as long as your lawyers are creative enough to have enough new or disqualified ballots counted after the fact,” the Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote.
Concerns over the legitimacy of the 2008 Senate race continued even after Franken was deemed victorious. In 2010, Minnesota Majority, a watchdog group, called attention to convicted felons voting in the tight Senate race. The revelations made national headlines when then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty said in a Fox News appearance that there was “credible evidence” that ineligible felons tipped the election towards Franken. Since then, the Minnesota Voters Alliance has compiled a list of 941 ineligible convicted felons who voted in the 2008 election.
Coleman appeared on Fox & Friends Saturday morning to offer cautionary advice to Scott, saying that his attorneys need to be aggressively fighting for votes.
“In the end, you can get out-lawyered,” Coleman said.
Coleman also referenced the 2004 Washington governor’s race where Republican Dino Rossi, who was initially declared the winner, was defeated by Democrat Christine Gregoire by 130 votes. Elias was a part of Gregoire’s legal team.
Elias was also the general counsel for Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election. In addition, Perkins Coie, Elias’ law firm, hired Fusion GPS to do opposition research on Trump, resulting in former British spy Christopher Steele’s unverified dossier.
Luke Rosiak from the Daily Caller News Foundation highlights more of Elias’ controversial background here.