Who is Mike Roman, the Philly campaign operative charged in Georgia with helping Trump efforts to overturn the 2020 election?
The Philadelphia-born GOP campaign operative was one of 18 aides and allies charged by a Georgia grand jury with helping former President Donald Trump in his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
A Philadelphia Republican campaign operative was among 18 allies of former President Donald Trump indicted with him on Monday in a sweeping racketeering case accusing them of seeking to overturn the results of Georgia’s 2020 presidential election.
Mike Roman, who served as director of Election Day operations for Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign, was charged by a state grand jury with seven counts including racketeering conspiracy and conspiracies to commit forgery, to impersonate a public officer, to commit false statements, and to file false documents.
Roman’s role as one of the chief implementers of Trump’s plan to organize slates of so-called fake electors in battleground states has been well documented in investigations by federal authorities and congressional probes.
But the Georgia case is the first time he has been charged with a crime in any of the indictments brought against the former president.
Neither Roman, 51, nor his attorneys returned requests for comment on the indictment Tuesday.
Here’s what you need to know about Roman and the charges that now threaten to send him, Trump, and other top allies to prison.
Who is Mike Roman?
Roman was Trump’s director of Election Day operations on the former president’s 2020 reelection campaign. And according to communications that surfaced last year during the investigation by the congressional committee probing the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, he handled much of the legwork around organizing the seven slates of fake Trump electors purporting to represent the electoral votes from battleground states including Pennsylvania.
How does he factor into the Georgia indictment?
Roman is one of 18 allies and aides who Georgia prosecutors say participated in a conspiracy to undermine and overturn the state’s 2020 presidential election results.
According to the indictment, his efforts included working with other campaign officials to organize slates of so-called fake electors in Georgia and other battleground states that had been won by President Joe Biden.
For instance, the indictment alleges that in late November 2020 Roman urged other campaign officials to contact state legislators in Georgia to encourage them to unlawfully appoint Trump electors.
He also organized speakers for a Dec. 10, 2020, hearing before a Georgia House committee to spread false information that the state’s vote had been riddled with fraud, prosecutors said. They included a former elections supervisor in Coffee County, Georgia, accused of helping Trump supporters access the county’s voting machines.
Roman allegedly also coordinated recruitment of Trump electors in Georgia and in other states, working with others to collect their names and contact information in a spreadsheet and asked contacts on the ground in Georgia to keep him updated as those false electors gathered Dec. 14, 2020, to falsely cast what they represented to be the state’s electoral votes.
What are his Philadelphia roots?
Raised in Kensington, Roman briefly left the city to attend the University of Miami. But he quickly returned after dropping out and found a career in politics.
He played a key role in Bruce Marks’ 1993 special election campaign for the Pennsylvania Senate, in which Marks — a Republican and the seeming loser of that race — sued, contending that the vote had been riddled with fraud and that dozens of ballots from heavily Latino blocks of Kensington were forgeries or contained other irregularities.
A federal judge agreed, overturning the election results and naming Marks the victor instead, a decision that was believed at the time to be a first in American history.
Roman went on to land a lucrative consulting contact with Freedom Partners, the primary fundraising arm for the right-wing Koch brothers, after stints working as a GOP ward leader in Rhawnhurst and on presidential campaigns including those of George W. Bush, John McCain, and Rudolph Giuliani.
He joined the 2016 Trump campaign and later the White House staff as a special assistant to the president before he was appointed to his role in Trump’s reelection effort.
In Republican circles, Roman is known as a “fraud hunter” and online provocateur. It was Roman who, in 2008, first publicized the presence of two members of the New Black Panther Party — one carrying a billy club — outside of a Philadelphia polling site.
The story became a frequent talking point in conservative media, prompting several stories on Fox News, amid GOP accusations of voter intimidation by Democrats in the city.
And in the run-up to the 2020 vote, he repeatedly cast doubt on social media on the integrity of the election results — including in a blog post he coauthored with Marks, now a Republican election lawyer, that accused Democrats of organizing pandemic-era expansions to mail voting to commit ballot harvesting.
What else do we know about his role in the 2020 election?
Though the Georgia indictment is the first time Roman has been charged with a crime in connection with Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, his role in the former president’s efforts has been well documented.
In an interview with the congressional committee that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, he described his role with the Trump campaign as maintaining contacts with state officials and tracking voting-related legislation before the election.
“It was a lot of drilling down into the mechanics of the electoral process and what the campaign was doing to ensure that every voter that was coming out was able to cast a ballot and that illegal ballots, if there were any, would be identified,” he said in a 2022 deposition.
Roman took on more responsibility in the aftermath of the November election. Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani tapped him as “the lead” for organizing the slates of fake Trump electors, according to emails obtained by Congress.
The House Jan. 6 committee’s report also describes Roman as playing a role in the delivery of a fake elector certificate from Wisconsin to Congress.
On Jan. 5, Roman’s deputy on the Trump campaign, G. Michael Brown, texted other campaign staff a photo of his face with the Capitol in the background. “This has got to be the cover a book I write one day,” Brown wrote. “I should probably buy [Roman] a tie or something for sending me on this one.”
Asked by congressional investigators whether he’d instructed Brown to deliver the document, Roman asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Does Pennsylvania factor into the Georgia indictment in other ways?
In addition to the charges against Roman, the Georgia indictment compares the pressure campaign Trump and his allies unleashed on public officials in that state to similar efforts in Pennsylvania.
That campaign has been detailed in earlier congressional testimony and in the federal indictment filed against Trump earlier this month by Special Counsel Jack Smith.
However, the Georgia indictment highlights several key moments, including a Nov. 25, 2020, State Senate committee hearing organized in Gettysburg by Giuliani and State Sen. Doug Mastriano in which they made several false claims regarding the integrity of Pennsylvania’s election results and urged state lawmakers to overturn them.
Giuliani and Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis, both of whom spoke at that hearing, were charged alongside Trump and Roman on Monday.
The indictment also recounts the pressure campaign Trump, Giuliani, and Ellis unleashed on the then-Speaker of the Pennsylvania House Bryan Cutler, (R., Lancaster) and Jake Corman, (R., Centre), who was then-president pro tempore of the Senate.
That began, the indictment states, on Nov. 21, 2020, when Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff, obtained phone numbers for Cutler and Corman from U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, (R., Pa.), another key Trump ally who has drawn law enforcement scrutiny for his assisting the president in undermining the election results
Cutler testified during the Jan. 6 congressional committee hearings last year that he received near-daily phone calls from Giuliani urging him to reject the state’s vote totals and have the General Assembly appoint Trump electors to represent the state in the Electoral College vote.
That pressure, according to the indictment, culminated in a Dec. 3, 2020, White House meeting in which Trump summoned Cutler and urged him to call a special legislative session to investigate the possibility of election irregularities in Pennsylvania.
Cutler and Corman ultimately refused, issuing a statement that the General Assembly lacked the authority to overturn the popular vote.
Staff writer Andrew Seidman contributed to this article.