State senator pleads not guilty in Arizona fake electors case

Arizona state Sen. Jake Hoffman on Thursday pleaded not guilty to multiple felony charges related to the Republican lawmaker’s alleged role in a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election results.

His attorney, Timothy La Sota, entered the plea on his client’s behalf.

Hoffman appeared before Court Commissioner Shellie Smith via Zoom – with a painting of Ronald Reagan on a wall behind him – after an Arizona grand jury handed up an indictment against him and 17 other defendants in April. He was charged alongside 10 other individuals who served as fake electors from the state and multiple close allies of former President Donald Trump.

Hoffman, who was elected as a member of the Republican National Committee for Arizona just days after being indicted in April, told the judge he has plans to travel out of state this summer to attend various pre-planned Republican events. The judge released Hoffman on his own recognizance and will “allow travel for purposes of his employment.”

His next court date is a pre-trial hearing set for July 2.

Hoffman sent a two-page letter to Vice President Mike Pence on January 5, 2021, asking him to order that Arizona’s electors not be decided by the popular vote of its citizens, but instead by members of the state Legislature.

“It is in this late hour, with urgency, that I respectfully ask that you delay the certification of election results for Arizona during the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021, and seek clarification from the Arizona state legislature as to which slate of electors are proper and accurate,” Hoffman wrote at the time.

In interviews, Hoffman repeatedly argued that no electors be sent at all because “we don’t have certainty in the outcome of our election” and called to contest Democratic electors if they were sent.

Following news of his indictment, Hoffman said in a statement that he was “innocent of any crime,” adding, “I will vigorously defend myself, and I look forward to the day when I am vindicated of this disgusting political persecution by the judicial process.”

The Arizona Republican Party also condemned the indictment, calling it a “blatant and unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial power.”

Others charged in the indictment include former Trump lawyer John Eastman, Rudy Giuliani, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn. Giuliani and Eastman pleaded not guilty last month. Meadows is scheduled to appear before an Arizona judge Friday. Epshteyn’s first court appearance is slated for June 18.

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