A former Trump campaign staffer who was subpoenaed by the Department of Justice as part of its investigation into the plot to overturn the 2020 election, is currently serving on the House committee overseeing U.S. elections.
The House Administration Committee’s employment roster shows Thomas Lane is earning a $155,000 salary in his role as elections counsel. His LinkedIn page confirms his employment began a few months ago.
Lane worked at the Republican National Committee in addition to assisting the Trump campaign’s efforts in Arizona and New Mexico in 2020. After the election, the FBI subpoenaed him for his records at his Virginia home as part of efforts to understand the former president’s plot to send fake electors to Washington, The Washington Post and others reported.
Lane also appeared to have attended a meeting where 11 Arizona Republicans falsely declared themselves presidential electors. In a video of that meeting, which was posted by the Arizona Republican Party, a man wearing a Trump campaign jacket with the name “Lane” on it is seen passing out papers for people to sign “certifying themselves Arizona’s ‘duly elected and qualified electors.’”
POLITICO also obtained a video from September of 2021 — during which time Lane was working as an RNC “election integrity” official in Virginia — in which he fanned conspiracy theories about the election. Lane was speaking to a gathering of conservative grassroots organizers about the RNC’s statewide plan to deploy poll workers and watchers in the upcoming gubernatorial election.
It’s important that “we learn from mistakes, we learn from any fraud, stealing,” said Lane.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that last year was stolen. ‘Stolen’ means different things to different people. On one end, it can mean the Chinese, the Russians, uh, hacked machines, or there was an influx of ballots, or fake ballots, whatever,” Lane said in the video given to POLITICO from the group Documented, a non-partisan investigative watchdog that says it believes “democracy itself is under attack.”
“On the other end is, ‘Hey, Covid was a thing, Democrats took complete advantage of it, within the laws, and outside the laws.’ And there’s everything in between,” said Lane.
Lane was among a number of people from the 2020 Trump campaign who both received subpoenas from law enforcement and complied with those requests. The committee declined to comment about the incident or his work in the House. Lane, who does not appear to have faced any charges, did not respond to an email seeking comment.
Lane was a young aide on the Trump campaign at the time, fresh out of graduating from law school. But his career path from there through the House Administration Committee underscores how individuals connected to Donald Trump’s unsuccessful scheme remain well within the corridors of power, including on matters of election conduct.
The House Administration Committee is often considered a sleepy backwater that runs the logistics of the House, including doling out parking and office spaces. But it also has broad jurisdiction over elections — from campaign finance law to voting rights and election administration. Its chair, Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI), did not vote to block certification of the 2020 election but it’s been holding numerous hearings recently about the 2022 election, some that include individuals who deny the legitimacy of the 2020 election.
Last week, it held a hearing featuring a number of individuals who participated in a recent Washington conference hosted by conservative groups pushing for voting restrictions. Among those who testified were Hans Von Spakovsky, the Heritage Foundation’s elections lawyer who has a long history of advocating for voting restrictions and insists the U.S. system is rife with voter fraud.
Lane’s role would typically include helping to plan hearings, recommend witnesses and draft questions and helping to draft legislation, according to a person familiar with the committee’s operations.
In a potential sign of Lane’s influence over the committee’s work, last month Lynn Taylor of the Virginia Institute for Public Policy testified before the election subcommittee on the issue of “election observer access.” Taylor worked closely in 2021 with Lane, whom she introduced at the September event, and Cleta Mitchell, an attorney who advised Trump in the 2020 election. Mitchell spread false election claims and participated in the former president’s infamous call with Georgia election officials where Trump urged them to “find” votes. Mitchell resigned from her law firm following criticism of her involvement in the call.
After the 2020 election, Mitchell created a network of activist groups to recruit and coach poll watchers and workers in multiple battleground states. Mitchell’s broader “Election Integrity Network” is now collaborating directly with Taylor, according to Lindsey Zea, a research analyst for the VIPP who spoke during a Feb. 21 Zoom meeting of activists obtained by POLITICO.
Mitchell has also spoken openly about having a working relationship with the House Administration Committee. At a meeting last week for the Election Assistance Commission, a federal agency that serves as a clearinghouse for election information and upon whose advisory board she serves, Mitchell praised the committee’s staff.
“They’ve been wonderful about working with and helping to educate volunteers and citizen activists on weekly calls,” Mitchell said of the staffers. Mitchell did not respond to a request for comment.
During those weekly meetings, which often occur over Zoom and include conservative activists, Mitchell has encouraged attendees to become familiar with local elections clerks as she pushes a menu of reforms that would reduce ballot access among certain groups, including university students.
In an April 13 call run by an allied group, Michigan Fair Elections, Mitchell said “we are at a turning point in our republic.” According to the call, which was obtained by POLITICO, Mitchell went on to say that U.S. “electoral systems” need to change or Republicans will “lose the presidential election” again in 2024. A lawyer on a separate April 6 call run by the same group spoke about plans to sue public universities in Michigan that help register students to vote.
Mitchell has served as a member of the EAC’s advisory board since late 2021, when she was appointed as one of the two representatives of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, an independent federal commission created in the 1950s. Her position there has been the subject of controversy given the key role she played in Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Though the board does not have a policy-making role and meets irregularly, it can make recommendations on voluntary guidelines to the EAC. The EAC certifies voting systems and advises local election offices on compliance with federal election regulations.
Earlier this month, the progressive think tank Center for American Progress issued a report highlighting the “failure” to hold Trump and his allies “fully accountable” for their “scheme to destabilize the democratic system for political purposes.”
As a RNC official, Lane collaborated with Mitchell in Virginia’s off-year gubernatorial election in 2021, which Mitchell considered a test pilot fornationwide “election integrity” coalitions. And in a January 2023 letter to RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, Mitchell and other members of her coalition complained that Lane and some other “election integrity” officials had not retained their positions after the 2022 midterms. The letter referred to Lane as an “outstanding leader.”
“We were distressed, to say the least, to learn that all the state (election integrity directors) and the entire field staff were to be terminated,” the letter read. “Preventing cheating in our nation’s elections is a priority to voters,” it continued.
Shortly thereafter, Lane took up the job with the House Administration Committee, according to his LinkedIn page.
“I have already had the opportunity to meet with Secretaries of State and county election officials from across the country,” Lane said on his LinkedIn in announcing his new role. He said he is “ecstatic” to be in the position.