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Former Pa. officials warn U.S. Supreme Court of ‘bad faith’ in elections, citing Doug Mastriano

“In Pennsylvania, the Republican gubernatorial candidate denies the results of the 2020 election has has repeatedly spread baseless claims of election fraud," the U.S. Supreme Court filing said.

State Sen. Doug Mastriano speaks to supporters in Philadelphia on Sept. 30.
State Sen. Doug Mastriano speaks to supporters in Philadelphia on Sept. 30.Read moreTyger Williams / Staff Photographer

A bipartisan group of 10 former public officials from Pennsylvania warned the U.S. Supreme Court last week that candidates who “spread baseless claims” about election fraud are on Tuesday’s ballot and will likely “act in bad faith” in future elections if they win.

For example, they offer: Doug Mastriano.

“In Pennsylvania, the Republican gubernatorial candidate denies the results of the 2020 election has has repeatedly spread baseless claims of election fraud,” they wrote, noting that the next governor will select the person who oversees elections in the state. “It is not hyperbolic to warn that those who wish to act in bad faith to favor their party may soon be in a position to do that.”

Former Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, signed onto that “friend-of-the-court” filing, along with four former federal judges and two former U.S. attorneys.

They were opining on an appeal the Supreme Court will hear on Dec. 7 from North Carolina’s Republican-controlled state legislature after a state court ruling there rejected as unconstitutional a new map of legislative districts.

This is a test of the “independent state legislature theory,” a once-fringe movement now embraced by some conservatives who claim state courts have no authority to review or reject district maps drawn by legislators. That theory can be expanded to claim state courts also have no right to challenge other legislative acts to regulate elections.

That would dismantle for elections the “checks and balances” system — a legislature, an executive and the courts — that American government is constructed on at the local, state, and federal levels.

“You can’t change the rules in the middle of the game,” Corbett said of the North Carolina appeal. “And you can’t change the rules just because you didn’t like the result. That’s what this is trying to do.”

This, he knows firsthand.

Corbett was governor in 2011 when he signed into law a new congressional map sent to him by the Republican-controlled legislature. The state Supreme Court in 2018 overturned that map, saying the districts were drawn in an unconstitutional way.

He also signed into law a 2012 bill requiring voters to show photo identification at polling places. A Commonwealth Court judge in 2014 threw out that voter ID law, saying it put an unconstitutional burden on voters.

“You may not like the court decisions. I didn’t like them,” Corbett said. “But that’s part of the process.”

John E. Jones III, a former chief judge of the U.S. Middle District Court of Pennsylvania and now president of Dickinson College, also signed on. Jones, a Republican, said the theory, pushed by people who also tried to overturn the 2020 election, uses a “complete reach and bastardization” of the Election Clause in the U.S. Constitution.

“They’re election deniers,” Jones said. “They’re like vampires in the night.”

Jones noted that Mastriano has claimed he could, if elected governor, refuse to certify an election if he disputed the result. He describes the 10 men who signed the brief as “a bunch of people who have had enough and think this is madness, what we’re doing here.”

David Thornburgh, who stepped down in January as head of the Committee of 70, a Philadelphia-based good-government group that studies elections, was the one nonaffiliated voter to sign on with three Republicans and six Democrats.

He said the Supreme Court case could “totally upset” the administration of elections if the North Carolina legislators prevail.

“To me, that would be a seismic shock to the system,” he said. “If feels like it rolls over hundreds of years of precedent.”

Mastriano ad images imported from Europe

Mastriano’s vision for Pennsylvania continues to focus … on Eastern Europe?

A digital ad he’s running on Facebook about his Democratic opponent, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, criticizes COVID-19 precautions taken in the state. It shows footage of young school students sitting at desks wearing masks.

That footage comes from Dotshock, a stock-photo firm based in the Balkan country Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Sound familiar?

Clout reported last month that a four-minute “inspirational message” posted as an online fund-raiser for Mastriano’s campaign, used stock footage from videographers in Russia, Poland, and Belarus to show images of parents playing with a child, a man working in an industrial setting, and a young boy waving to his mother.

Business Insider followed up with a report about a Mastriano digital ad that used the same image — two girls frolicking in a field — as a piece of Russian government propaganda.

Like Clout, Business Insider tracked that image back to a photographer from Belarus, available on Pexels, a German-based stock-footage firm.

“For their future,” Mastriano’s ad said, “there is hope.”

Our future? Or Russia’s future? The ad did not clarify.


The great irony about the 2020 election is it’s the most attacked election in our history. And yet — and yet, there is no election in our history that we can be more certain of its results. Every legal challenge that could have been brought was brought. Every recount that could have been undertaken was undertaken. Every recount confirmed the results.”

— President Joe Biden, speaking Wednesday about election fraud claims that he said “fueled the dangerous rise in political violence and voter intimidation over the past two years.”

Clout provides often irreverent news and analysis about people, power, and politics.