Lawyer who pushed voter fraud claims under investigation

·5 min read

ATLANTA — State election officials are investigating whether one of the most outspoken proponents of the claim that the presidential election was stolen through widespread voter fraud had moved to another state before voting in Georgia last fall.

The Georgia secretary of state’s office opened a probe Tuesday into where attorney Lin Wood has been living, according to its investigative case sheet. Wood was listed as living in Fulton County and voted early in person in Georgia in the November presidential election, according to records on the agency’s website .

The secretary of state’s office opened the investigation after learning from a television reporter that Wood may have been living in South Carolina when he voted in the November general election, according to a senior official with the secretary of state’s office. The official asked The Associated Press not to be named because of security concerns after the secretary and his staff received threats over the handling of the election.

Wood announced the move himself on social media Monday, without mentioning its exact timing at first.

“BREAKING NEWS! I have changed my legal residence from the State of Georgia to the State of South Carolina!” he posted on Telegram. “South Carolina has welcomed me. Georgia has falsely accused me and shunned me. I am thrilled about my change in residency.”

WSB-TV first reported on the investigation. The station said Wood had emailed one of its reporters, saying he had been “domiciled in South Carolina for several months after purchasing property in the state in April.” The reporter provided a screenshot of the email to the AP.

Wood denied this in a text exchange with the AP on Wednesday, saying the suggestion that he told the station or its reporter that he had been “domiciled” in South Carolina last year “is not accurate.”

“While I spent time in South Carolina in 2020, I considered myself domiciled in Georgia and a resident of Georgia at all times in 2020,” Wood wrote. He said he voted in person in Georgia on Oct. 21 for the general election but did not vote in the Senate runoffs in January.

Wood also blasted the investigation in another post on Telegram on Tuesday, calling Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger “a loser."

"I only yesterday announced my change of residency to South Carolina EFFECTIVE yesterday, February 1!" he wrote. “Until yesterday, I have been a resident of Georgia since 1955. Ha! The enemy's attacks are getting weaker and weaker.”

Georgia law says a person's residence shall be considered “that place in which such person’s habitation is fixed, without any present intention of removing therefrom.” It also says that if a person moves to another state “with the intention of making it such person’s residence, such person shall be considered to have lost such person’s residence in this state.”

Wood also is being scrutinized by the State Bar of Georgia, which said it “is proceeding with an inquiry” into Wood. The state bar rule cited as a basis for the investigation says that if its disciplinary board finds that a lawyer may be “impaired or incapacitated to practice law” as result of mental illness, cognitive impairment or substance abuse, the board may make a confidential referral to an appropriate medical or mental health professional for evaluation.

Wood said on Telegram that he's “of sound mind,” hasn't violated any rule of professional conduct, and will fight the state bar in court if necessary.

Wood has long been known for his representation of high profile clients — including Richard Jewell, who was wrongly accused in the 1996 Olympic bombing in Atlanta — particularly in defamation cases.

Wood has insisted Donald Trump actually won the election but it was rigged for him to lose. He filed legal challenges on his own and with attorney Sidney Powell, who kept fighting for Trump even after she was removed from his legal team. Wood and Powell were criticized by Republican leaders after they encouraged Georgia voters not to cast ballots in the U.S. Senate runoffs. Wood and Powell claimed the runoffs would be rigged and questioned the loyalty of Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler to Trump before their losses tipped the Senate into Democratic control.

State and federal officials have repeatedly said there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud, in Georgia or any other state, and dozens of lawsuits making such allegations were rejected by the courts.

Over the past year, an LLC linked to Wood has purchased three plantations totalling more than $16 million in South Carolina’s Beaufort County, a coastal area south of Charleston popular with retirees, known for its low-lying marshlands.

According to The Island Packet of Hilton Head, Wood acknowledged forming The Tomotley Crew LLC, through which he purchased more than 2,000 acres in the area, including Tomotley Plantation. The $7.9 million property of more than 1,000 acres includes a 14-acre lake and half-mile entry ways lined with live oak trees that were planted in 1820.

“Let’s just say between the Lowcountry and Georgia, I just found the Lowcountry in South Carolina a lot more appealing in terms of residence,” Wood told the paper in a story that ran Wednesday, noting he would continue to practice law out of his Atlanta office.

Wood told the paper he intends to preserve the land and is mulling projects including building a chapel, puppy rescue facility and children’s camp.

“I want to try to do good things for other people,” Wood said. “And I hope everybody will find that I’m a good neighbour , and a good citizen of South Carolina.”

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Associated Press writer Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina, contributed to this report.

Kate Brumback, The Associated Press