Zach Montellaro for Politico:
GOP legislative leaders in key battleground states are increasingly embracing 2020 election investigations that they once held at arm’s length, as Arizona Republicans await a long-delayed final report from their own conspiracy-tinged “audit.”
Top Republicans in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have recently thrown their support behind new hunts for fraud or irregularities in the last election. Pennsylvania state Senate President Jake Corman sidelined a prominent Republican backbencher who had tried to lead an investigation and instead empowered a committee chair to launch one with his support. That effort is hiring vendors and scheduling hearings.
There is no mechanism to actually overturn the certified results of the 2020 election. But what these investigations could do is fuel former President Donald Trump’s lies about the election or prompt new efforts to enact state voting restrictions. Corman — who has called for a 2020 election review since November — recently told a conservative radio host that he had spoken with Trump about the efforts, describing the former president as “comfortable where we’re heading.”
It’s the next stage in GOP efforts to export the Republican election review in Arizona elsewhere, after state legislators from around the country made pilgrimages to Arizona to see the Republican state Senate’s process there. Though local Republican officials in Maricopa County, as well as Democrats in the state, have derided the Arizona “audit” as a conspiracy-tinged sham seeking to undermine the 2020 election results, GOP leaders in other states are now giving their blessing to similar investigations, offering significantly more heft than earlier pushes from rank-and-file legislators, including more public funding, more staff time and potentially more legal weight.
“It’s disappointing, because part of the burden of leadership is killing bad ideas that might be popular with the base,” said former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson, a Republican who has been sharply critical of the Arizona review and other efforts to discredit the 2020 election. “When they put their imprimatur on it, it’s a signal to everybody that they think that this is important.”