GOP Rep. Mike Kelly has a meltdown over Ron Johnson's accusation on false electors

Johnson appeared to blame the scheme on Kelly, even while claiming that the entire affair is a "non-story"

By Jon Skolnik

Staff Writer

Published July 1, 2022 12:42PM (EDT)

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) speaks at a news conference with Republican senators to discuss the origins of COVID-19 on June 10, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) speaks at a news conference with Republican senators to discuss the origins of COVID-19 on June 10, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., recently alleged that a bogus slate of pro-Trump electors, which one of his aide's tried to have former Vice President Mike Pence install during the 2020 election certification ceremony, was given to him by Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Penn. But Kelly is again adamantly denying his fellow Republican's claims. 

"I have never had a conversation with Sen. Johnson," Kelly said in a Thursday interview with New Castle News. 

Johnson's allegation came during a radio interview last month on the "The Vicki McKenna Show," according to audio captured by Democratic Super PAC American Bridge. In the interview, Johnson attacked the January 6 select committee for revealing text messages between Johnson Chief of Staff Sean Riley and one of Pence's legislative aides, who Riley asked to hand off a slate of partisan electors to the former vice president. 

"We found out now this [slate] came from Pennsylvania Congressman Mike Kelly's office," Johnson claimed

RELATED: "I can see your screen": Ron Johnson busted after saying he's on the phone to avoid Jan. 6 questions

Johnson also referenced a Just the News report alleging that Donald Trump had enlisted the help of Kelly's office to gin up a cohort of new electors who would be willing to overturn President Biden's win. According to the report, Kelly asked for help from Wisconsin lawyer James Troupit, then a Trump campaign counsel. Troupit was also one of the leading attorneys in a legal challenge against Trump's loss in the Badger State, as Politico noted.

"Need to get a document on Wisconsin electors to you the VP immediately," Troupis reportedly texted Johnson at 11:36 a.m. on January 6. "Is there a staff person I can talk to immediately. Thanks, Jim T."

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Shortly thereafter, Riley reportedly texted the Pence aide, "Johnson needs to hand something to VPOTUS." Pence's aide refused the offering, the texts indicate.

Johnson, for his part, has called the entire affair a "non-story." 

"My office's entire involvement in this thing lasted 70 minutes. My involvement was probably seconds, maybe a minute or two," he said, according to Politico.

Still, his latest denial passes the buck over to Kelly, who up until this point was not directly implicated in Trump's failed scheme to replace the 2020 election's duly-appointed cohort of electors.  

RELATED: Ron Johnson "must resign": Wisconsin senator implicated in fake elector scheme

Kelly's press secretary, Matt Knoedler, first denied Johnson's claims.

"Senator Johnson's statements about Representative Kelly are patently false," Knoedler told Insider. "Mr. Kelly has not spoken to Sen. Johnson for the better part of a decade, and he has no knowledge of the claims Mr. Johnson is making related to the 2020 election.

Then this week, Kelly spoke for himself. 

"I think that there have been several variations of what the senator said," Kelly noted in reference to Johnson. "But I've had no conversation with him at all." 

By Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik was a former staff writer at Salon.

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Brief Elections 2020 Fake Electors Gop Civil War Jan. 6 Mike Kelly Republicans Ron Johnson Trump's Big Lie