In December 2020, as former President Donald Trump was spreading baseless theories that the election was stolen from him, Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows received a text from a Louisianan who has been making allegations about election fraud for almost three decades.
It was former Louisiana state Rep. Woody Jenkins, a Baton Rouge Republican and publisher of small newspapers in the capital region who last held elected office in 2000. Jenkins implored Meadows to get Trump electors in swing states to their respective capitols to cast their votes for Trump, regardless of what the ballot box tallies showed.
Jenkins recommended that the “Trump electors from AR [sic] MI GA PA WI NV all meet next Monday at their state capitols[,] [c]all themselves to order, elect officers, and cast their votes for the President. . . . Then they certify their votes and transmit that certificate to Washington.”
Meadows replied: “We are.”
That exchange was detailed in the final report released by the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, which investigated the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol that occurred weeks after Jenkins’ message.
The report attributed the message to Meadows only to a “former state legislator in Louisiana.” Jenkins confirmed last week that it was him.
In an interview, Jenkins said the White House asked him after the 2020 election to investigate election fraud in Michigan. He declined to say who from the White House recruited him for the role, or why they chose him.
Jenkins served as Louisiana campaign chair for Trump in 2016 and was an at-large Trump elector for the electoral college in 2020. He serves as chair of the East Baton Rouge Parish Republican Party – which attracted some attention when it voted to censure U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Baton Rouge Republican, for voting to impeach Trump over the events of Jan. 6.
Jenkins said his ties to the White House began with John Fleming, a former congressman whom Trump tapped for a role in the Commerce Department.
“I was never really close to the White House,” he said. “I had a good friend who was working there, Dr. John Fleming. I just didn’t really have close ties to the White House, but I did have indirect ties.”
Fleming says he can’t remember if he linked Jenkins up with Meadows specifically, but he acknowledged a friendship with Jenkins. Fleming added that he didn’t have any role in Trump’s re-election bid.
Legal challenges and independent probes into the 2020 election found no evidence of widespread fraud or irregularities. But Jenkins says he remains convinced there was “massive fraud.”
Jenkins is perhaps best known for his unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate in 1996. He lost the race to Democrat Mary Landrieu by a razor-thin margin, and has spent the years since making claims that fraud cost him the election. He took his claims to the U.S. Senate, where a committee chaired by a Republican looked into the claims and concluded a major investigation was not justified.
Jenkins said he began the exchange with Meadows by…