Jenna Ellis, the Colorado attorney who tried to challenge Donald Trump's 2020 election loss as a member of the former president's legal team, has been formally censured by the state's courts for repeatedly making false statements, including claiming that the election was stolen from Trump.
As part of the disciplinary action, Ellis agreed that she made numerous "misrepresentations" in appearances on national television shows and on Twitter in the months following Trump's loss to Democrat Joe Biden
Presiding Disciplinary Judge Bryon M. Large approved the reprimand on Wednesday by agreeing with a stipulation reached between Ellis and the state Office of Attorney Regulatory Counsel, which recommended a public censure.
In his opinion, Large said Ellis' repeated false claims "undermined the American public’s confidence in the presidential election, violating her duty of candor to the public." He noted that Ellis agreed she had a "selfish motive" and "engaged in a pattern of misconduct," adding that her lack of prior disciplinary action mitigated the transgression.
He observed that there had never been a disciplinary case in Colorado featuring misconduct resembling what Ellis did.
The agreement listed 10 occasions when Ellis misrepresented the facts, including on MSNBC, Fox News, Fox Business and Newsmax.
Among the false statements was one made during an appearance on Nov. 20, 2020, on former White House press secretary Sean Spicer's Spicer & Co. show. Referring to five battleground states where the Trump campaign alleged election malfeasance — Nevada, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Georgia — Ellis said, "[W]e know that the election was stolen from President Trump and we can prove that."
A day later, she tweeted that Trump's legal team "will present testimonial and other evidence IN COURT to show that this election was STOLEN!"
On Nov. 23, 2020, Ellis falsely asserted during an appearance on MSNBC's The Ari Melber Show, “The election was stolen and Trump won by a landslide.”
In late December 2020, Ellis tweeted that she'd discussed her claim that "the overwhelming evidence proving this was stolen" with Denver-based radio host Dan Caplis.
Ellis acknowledged in the agreement released on Wednesday that she violated a professional rule that prohibits attorneys from making "reckless, knowing, or intentional misrepresentations." Large wrote in his opinion that she did so "with a mental state that was 'at least reckless,'" describing a legal standard for assessing disciplinary options.
A longtime luminary in Colorado's conservative political circles, Ellis shot to national prominence as part of the team of Trump's lawyers and legal advisors who attempted to overturn the results of the 2020 election, including by filing dozens of failed lawsuits alleging election fraud.
Ellis taught classes for several years at Lakewood-based Colorado Christian University and is currently a fellow in constitutional law and policy at the school's Centennial Institute.
In July 2021, Ellis declared she was no longer a Republican after arguing on social media with Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel over whether the GOP had enthusiastically enough supported Trump's claims of a stolen election.
The nonpartisan group that filed an ethics complaint against Ellis last year, initiating the disciplinary action, applauded the outcome.
“Jenna Ellis repeatedly went on television and on Twitter to promote the reckless lie that the 2020 election was stolen," said Aaron Scherzer, senior counsel at the States United Democracy Center, in a statement. "As counsel to former President Trump and the Trump campaign, she abused her law license as part of an attempt to overturn the will of the American people — a plot that ultimately led to a violent insurrection."
He added: "Her lies did lasting damage, and her name will forever be linked to this assault on our democracy."
Scherzer called the public censure "an important step forward for accountability" and urged courts in other states to take similar action against other attorneys involved in the attempt to reverse the election results.
"The public censure in this matter reinforces that even if engaged in political speech, there is a line attorneys cannot cross, particularly when they are speaking in a representative capacity," the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel, which investigates complaints against Colorado lawyers, said in a statement.
The statement added that the office isn't currently pursuing any other charges against Ellis.
Neither Ellis nor the attorney who represented her in the disciplinary proceeding responded to requests for comment.
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