June 16, 2024

When Michigan State Rep. Matt Maddock took the stage at an Oakland County fundraising pool party in early August – a recording of which was obtained exclusively by The Messenger – he had a clear message he wanted to convey: If the government keeps coming after conservatives, someone is going to get shot or a civil war is going to begin.

Matt Maddock – whose wife, Meshawn Maddock, is a former co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party and one of the 16 fake electors who state attorney general Dana Nessel criminally charged in July – painted a bleak picture of how some conservatives plan to respond to the charges.

“If the government continues to weaponize these departments against conservatives and the citizens that are then the taxpayers, you know what’s going to happen to this country,” Matt Maddock asks, according to the audio obtained by The Messenger. After attendees at the event shout possibilities, Maddock answers his own question: “Someone’s going to get so pissed off, they’re going to shoot someone. That’s what’s going to happen. Or we’re going have a civil war or some sort of revolution. That’s where this is, where this is going.”

If that happens, it’s conservatives – like the people at the pool party – who are “going to get squashed,” he added.

The comments, which Matt Maddock made days after former President Donald Trump was indicted by the Department of Justice for his actions around the January 6 insurrection at the United States Capitol, came at what was billed as a “Free The 16 Electors Poolside Party!” at the Maddock’s home, hosted by Grand New Party PAC, an organization that is “working to renew the Republican Party from within.”

An invite for the event says “snacks provided” but asks attendees to “please bring drinks to share” and notes proceeds from the event “will be used to support the legal defense funds for the 16 Michigan Electors fighting the politicized attacks from the Evil AG Dana Nessel!”

Meshawn Maddock briefly spoke at the end of the event, telling the audience it is “really better for none of us to say anything, which is hard, because I like to say shit.” Amy Facchinello, another fake elector who previously worked as vice chairwoman of the Genesee County Republican Party, spoke briefly, too, telling the audience it was “very heartwarming to see so many people here tonight supporting us.”

“It’s been very difficult, as you can imagine,” she said.

Matt Maddock’s inflammatory comments were just one in a series made by conservative speakers at the fundraiser and highlight just how dire the Republicans charged in the 2020 election scheme and the people around them see this fight, one that is escalating quickly to include both state and federal charges.

At the same event, state Rep. James DeSana, who represents a portion of southeast Michigan south of Detroit, said his goal is to “get a resolution up to impeach Dana Nessel,” highlighting just how much of a target the state’s attorney general has become.

“In the privacy of my own home, I exercised my right to free speech when I expressed concern about how people’s frustration over an overreaching government worries me,” Matt Maddock said in a statement. 

DeSana, in an interview Thursday, said he stands by his comments and plans to pursue Nessel’s impeachment for “election corruption and the pursuit of valid electors.”

Meshawn Maddock and Facchinello did not respond to multiple requests for comment from The Messenger.

The Maddocks have long been a central family in the fight over the 2020 election. President Joe Biden won Michigan by nearly three percentage points in 2020, but, as part of Trump’s broader attempts to reverse the election results, sixteen Michigan Republicans offered themselves up as alternate electors from the state, signing certificates that said Trump had won Michigan.

While this happened in six other states across the country, the slate of fake electors in Michigan is the first to face criminal liability for their actions. In July, Nessel charged the sixteen electors with state felony charges, including conspiracy to commit forgery, conspiracy to commit election law forgery, and other related charges. On Thursday, all sixteen pleaded not guilty.

“The false electors’ actions undermined the public’s faith in the integrity of our elections and, we believe, also plainly violated the laws by which we administer our elections in Michigan,” Nessel said when she announced the charges. “The evidence will demonstrate there was no legal authority for the false electors to purport to act as ‘duly elected presidential electors’ and execute the false electoral documents.”

Although Michigan was first, it does not appear that the fake electors in the state will be the only to face criminal liability. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is expected to roll out the results of her over two-year investigation into the 2020 election, including the actions of the fake electors in the state. The Associated Press reported in May that at least eight of the state’s fake electors have been given immunity deals in the probe.

Meshawn Maddox, former co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party and one of the 16 fake electors facing criminal charges for their alleged actions, at an event for former President Donald Trump in October 2022.Emily Elconin/Getty Images

‘Walk into that gas chamber’

Michigan Republicans have responded to the fake-elector charges by raging at Nessel. State Rep. Josh Schriver used a press conference in July to call her a “thug,” while the Michigan Republican Party, an organization that even staunch Republicans say is in disarray and recently had less than $100,000 in the bank, called the attorney general an “aspiring tyrant.”

Matt Maddock followed suit, painting the charges as Nessel and the state government “dismantling the Trump campaign, one person at a time.” The state legislator also said the charges were aimed at discouraging people from questioning subsequent elections by using allusions to the Nazis’ use of gas chambers during the Holocaust.

“They’re trying to take away our right to appeal an election or just to question the election,” said the Republican state legislator. “They want to make damn sure that anyone who questions the election or disputes the election in 2024 is threatened by what they’re doing to our electors and other people throughout this nation. That you will not say anything. You are going to shut the F up and you were going to walk into that gas chamber. That’s what they want because that’s what’s coming for us.”

Michigan has been home to some of the most dramatic political divisions in the country. While the 2020 election only heightened those divisions, they existed long before Biden’s victory in the state.

Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer drew the ire of conservative protesters in Michigan after she implemented strict rules in response to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. Protestors, some armed, entered the Michigan Capitol Building in April 2020, enraged by the way Whitmer had handled the pandemic.

Five months later, state and federal law enforcement officials announced that 13 people had been charged in an alleged domestic terrorism plot to kidnap Whitmer and overthrow the state’s government. Prosecutors have scored a series of convictions in the plot, including four federal convictions, one of which was more than 19 years in prison.

Nessel said at the time that the people in state custody “made threats of violence intended to instigate a civil war, and engaged in planning and training for an operation to attack the capitol building of Michigan and to kidnap government officials, including the governor of Michigan.”

‘Impeach Dana Nessel’

Maddock was not the only elected Republican to speak at the fundraising event in Oakland County. 

DeSana used his remarks to specifically call out Nessel and push for her impeachment.

“She has obviously committed corruption with this corrupt prosecution,” DeSana said, painting a picture where Republicans could overcome Democratic control of the statehouse to impeach the attorney general, including by recalling certain Democrats. “So don’t lose heart. Don’t think that all is lost. We’re very close in the House of Representatives. We do have some work to do with trying to buck up some Republicans and trying to inject backbones up into them.”

DeSana cast the fight in dire terms – “If we don’t fight now, it will become too late,” said the lawmaker – telling the audience that the criminal prosecution of the state’s fake electors “could be any of us.”

“You take up the mantle, you take a responsible position. You’re like, ‘I want to fight for my country, for my state. I’ll take that position.’ And then the government comes after you and says you were fake, you weren’t real,” he said.