No criminal charges over Maine secretary of state's Trump ballot ruling | Fact check

The claim: Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows convicted of treason, sentenced to death

A May 20 Real Raw News article claims Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows faces serious legal trouble for a decision she made against former President Donald Trump.

“The U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps convicted and sentenced to death Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows on Wednesday for intentionally misconstruing Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution to stop President Trump’s name from appearing on the state’s primary ballot last December,” the article begins.

The article was shared more than 100 times on Facebook according to CrowdTangle, a social media analytics tool.

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Our rating: False

There is no credible evidence Bellows was ever charged with a crime, much less convicted of one and sentenced. She appeared in public after the date of her supposed arrest. Real Raw News frequently publishes false claims about the arrests of high-profile figures.

Bellows targeted with swatting call for ballot decision, but arrest claim is baseless

In December 2023, Maine voters challenged Trump’s nomination petition, saying he engaged in insurrection against the U.S. for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

After a hearing, Bellows decided that Trump was ineligible to appear on the ballot due to Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which bars people from holding several public offices if they took an oath to support the Constitution and later “shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same.”

Bellows became the second secretary of state to remove Trump, following Jena Griswold of Colorado. However, she reversed that move in March after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Colorado’s objection.

But claims that she was arrested for her initial decision are baseless. Bellows has been seen in public after May 15, the date of her supposed arrest.

She appeared in a livestreamed interview May 17 with The Maine Monitor, a nonpartisan publication affiliated with the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting. The nearly hour-long interview covered the election process in the state.

Emily Cook, a spokesperson for the Secretary of State's office, told USA TODAY the Real Raw News story is "just fiction."

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While Bellows hasn’t been arrested, she did face backlash for her initial decision. On Dec. 29, 2023, her home was swatted – an illegal practice that involves making a phony call for help to cause a large number of police officers to respond to the home.

Bellows wrote about the situation in an Instagram post the following day and noted that her address had also been publicized online.

Real Raw News is a serial spreader of misinformation that often publishes fabricated stories about "white hats" trying to undermine "the deep state" by arresting government officials. USA TODAY has previously debunked numerous other claims about the arrests of high-profile figures stemming from Real Raw News.

USA TODAY reached out to Real Raw News but did not immediately receive a response.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: JAG didn't arrest Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows | Fact check