A Republican lawyer who was an adviser to former President Donald Trump during his unsuccessful campaign to overturn November 2020’s election results is now a central figure in the party’s efforts to change voting laws across the US.
Cleta Mitchell, 70, a veteran GOP attorney who was previously on the board of the National Rifle Association, was one of several advisers on a January phone call in which Mr Trump asked Georgia election officials to “find” enough votes to declare him the winner of the state.
The call came after Mr Trump became the first Republican to lose Georgia in close to 30 years, after Joe Biden was named winner of the state.
The Associated Press reported on Saturday that Ms Mitchell is now leading efforts to create tighter state voting laws, while fighting Democratic attempts to expand ballot access at a federal level.
Ms Mitchell, who confirmed she is in contact with Mr Trump regularly, said in an interview with the AP that “people are actually interested in getting involved and we have to harness all this energy”.
She added: “There are a lot of groups that have projects on election integrity that never did before.”
Mr Trump has made repeated false claims of widespread voter fraud in last year’s election, seemingly prompting more than 250 new voting restriction proposals in 2021, mostly by Republican officials.
On Thursday Georgia’s GOP governor Brian Kemp signed into law a widely condemned measure requiring voters to present ID to vote by mail.
The law also bans food or water being provided to people waiting in line to vote, with Mr Biden describing the legislation on Friday as “Jim Crow in the 21st Century”.
In response to the new law, the AP reported that Democratic officials have accelerated efforts to push for a federal election overhaul bill, which would allow anyone to vote by mail and register citizens to vote automatically.
However, Ms Mitchell, alongside many Republicans, argue that the bill encroaches on state control over elections and could give Democrats an unfair advantage.
“The left is trying to dismantle 100 years of advancement in election administration,” Ms Mitchell said, adding that the parties’ two different approaches mean “we’re watching two different movies right now.”
As part of her efforts to change voting laws, Ms Mitchell is leading a $10m (£7.2m) initiative that is pushing for new restrictions on voting, and is a senior legal fellow at a conservative organisation in opposition to the Democratic proposals.
Ms Mitchell resigned from her position at law firm Foley & Lardner on 6 January after she assisted Mr Trump in the phone call to Georgia’s election chief pressuring him to overturn his election defeat.
Despite leaving her long-term job, Ms Mitchell said that the move was a blessing, telling the AP that “one of the great advantages of resigning from my law firm is that I can devote all my time to something I love”.