Unsealed court filing shows U.S. Rep. Scott Perry contacted Pa. lawmakers before Jan. 6 attack

The document details a federal judge’s review of messages from Perry’s cellphone, which was seized by the FBI

By: - November 30, 2023 6:15 pm

House Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The records a federal court ordered turned over to a special prosecutor investigating efforts to overturn President Joe Biden’s election include conversations between U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (R-10th District) and Pennsylvania lawmakers, a court filing shows. The conversations were about purported fraud in the commonwealth’s 2020 election, according to the document, which was unsealed by the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia on Tuesday,

The document details a lower court’s decision on what records seized from Perry’s personal cell phone after the attempted Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection are shielded by an exception from disclosure for legislative speech and debate. 

Among more than 2,000 records to which U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell granted Special Prosecutor Jack Smith access are exchanges that Perry had with Pennsylvania state Reps. Mike Jones (R-York), Dawn Keefer (R-York) and Seth Grove (R-York), and state Sens. Cris Dush (R-Jefferson), Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York), and Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin).

Each was among the 64 Pennsylvania lawmakers who signed a letter to the commonwealth’s congressional delegation, urging them to reject electors appointed by then-Gov. Tom Wolf.

Subjects of the exchanges included plans for a legislative audit of the election, including how to preserve and evaluate voting machine data and plans for the state Senate to request Wolf and Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar to audit the election results, the unsealed opinion says.

GET THE MORNING HEADLINES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX

Perry also contacted the lawmakers to connect them with members of former President Donald Trump’s campaign and its attorney, about a whistleblower who served as an information technology analyst for the Pennsylvania Office of Administration, who would purportedly provide information about voter fraud, and a legislative hearing with representatives of Dominion Voting Systems, which supplied voting electronic voting machines for 14 Pennsylvania counties.

“Examples of communications Rep. Perry had with others, including on the Trump Campaign staff and Pennsylvania State legislators, show his efforts to encourage action by others to address what he perceived to be election fraud, without being directly related to what he would do as a Member as part of a legislative process,” Howell wrote in the opinion. 

The exchanges also discussed a resolution introduced in the Pennsylvania House on Nov. 30, 2020, declaring the state election results to be in dispute and a letter from members of the General Assembly to then-Vice President Mike Pence asking him to “weigh the validity of purported Electors and Electoral votes representing the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania” 

The court filing does not attribute specific exchanges to individual lawmakers. Spokespeople for Republican leaders in the House and Senate did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

The court filing also shows Perry contacted conservative attorney and Trump advisor Julie Strauss Levin about whistleblower protection for “someone in the Pennsylvania Department of State.” 

The investigation led to the Aug. 1 indictment against Trump, charging him with conspiring to defraud the United States, disenfranchise voters and attempting to obstruct an official proceeding in connection with the Jan. 6 attack.

Perry has not been charged.

The House Jan. 6 Committee subpoenaed Perry in 2022 citing his involvement in attempts to appoint former assistant attorney general Jeffrey Clark as acting attorney general, as part of a plan to keep Trump in office by telling officials in states where Biden won that they could send electors to Washington for Trump instead. Perry refused to testify but the committee found Perry had tried to help Trump overturn the election results. 

The unsealed court filing includes a text exchange between Perry and Clark in which Perry texted Clark that “POTUS seems very happy” with him. Clark responded, “I’m praying. This makes me quite nervous. And wonder if I’m worthy or ready.” 

Perry replied, “You are the man. I have confirmed it. God does what he does for a reason.”

The Circuit Court made the opinion and other documents in the case, which had been sealed, public on Tuesday in response to a request by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. The Washington Post reported the document may have been mistakenly made public because it was removed from the public docket after a few hours on Wednesday.

SUPPORT NEWS YOU TRUST.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Peter Hall
Peter Hall

Peter Hall has been a journalist in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for more than 20 years, most recently covering criminal justice and legal affairs for The Morning Call in Allentown. His career at local newspapers and legal business publications has taken him from school board meetings to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and many points of interest between. He earned a degree in journalism from Susquehanna University.

MORE FROM AUTHOR