LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Las Vegas businessman is facing criminal charges of voting twice in the November 2020 election, including with his dead wife’s ballot, Nevada state Attorney General Aaron Ford announced Thursday.
Donald “Kirk” Hartle, 55, faces two felony charges in a criminal complaint filed Oct. 6 and made public Thursday, three days after Hartle’s initial appearance in Las Vegas Justice Court, according to court records. He is due again in court Nov. 18.
“Mr. Hartle looks forward to responding to the allegations,” his attorney, David Chesnoff, said Thursday.
Hartle is the only person currently being prosecuted on allegations of voter fraud in Nevada, said John Sadler, spokesman for the attorney general.
The November election saw now-President Joe Biden, a Democrat, defeat Republican President Donald Trump. Biden won in Nevada by 33,596 of 1.4 million votes cast, or about 2.4%.
State and federal courts in Nevada and other states rejected dozens of election challenges by Republicans and Trump’s presidential campaign, including claims of widespread voter fraud.
Sadler didn’t immediately respond to a question about the timing of Thursday's announcement, which included quotes from Ford calling voter fraud “rare,” saying “it undercuts trust in our election system” and vowing that it “will not be tolerated by my office.”
Ford, a Democrat, used the same words in July, when a 53-year-old Nevada man was sentenced to up to two years of probation for his guilty plea to one felony charge of voting twice — in Benton, Arkansas, and in Las Vegas — in the 2016 presidential election.
At least five other people have been convicted in Nevada since 2011 of registration fraud during voter recruitment, and one woman pleaded guilty to trying to vote twice in 2012.
“I want to stress that our office will pursue any credible allegations of voter fraud and will work to bring any offenders to justice,” Ford said Thursday.
A conviction on the two charges — voting more than once and voting using the name of another person — could get Hartle up to eight years in prison, the statement said.
Hartle is an executive at Ahern Rentals Inc., a company that was fined $3,000 for violations of COVID-19 mask and crowd-size restrictions while hosting a Trump campaign event in September 2020. The rally drew thousands of people to a sprawling indoor facility in suburban Henderson.
Company owner Donald Ahern also owns a Las Vegas hotel at which a national group espousing fringe QAnon conspiracy theories planned a gathering this weekend billed as a “Great Awakening Weekend.” The event promised speakers featured on Fox TV, News Max, The Victory Channel, One America Network and other sites favored by Trump.
Hartle’s wife, Rosemarie Hartle, died in 2017 at age 52 from breast cancer, he told KLAS-TV, the CBS affiliate in Las Vegas, last November.
The Nevada state Republican Party featured Hartle’s account on social media as a “concrete” case of voter fraud.
Records showed a ballot for Rosemarie Hartle was issued in October and later received by the county, but Hartle told KLAS it never came to his house. The TV station found Rosemarie Hartle listed as an active voter and reported that officials said the signature on her ballot matched Clark County voter records.
Kirk Hartle expressed disbelief to KLAS, but he added the account “lent some credence to what you’ve been hearing in the media about these possibilities and now it makes me wonder how pervasive is this?”
Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a Republican, said in April that reviews of election fraud allegations delivered to her office by the state GOP in March found some were already under investigation and most were baseless or inaccurately interpreted.
Ken Ritter, The Associated Press