The Journal Gazette
Sunday, January 03, 2021 9:20 am

Former Fort Wayne mayor weighs in on objection to presidential certification

DAVE GONG | The Journal Gazette

A former Fort Wayne mayor has added his name to a letter condemning a Missouri senator's plan to object when Congress convenes this week to certify President-Elect Joe Biden's 2020 Electoral College win.

"The election has been decided. To ignore the constitutional, legal and previously approved legislative procedures in place for deciding and contesting elections damages our system of government. I just added my signature to this letter," Former Mayor Paul Helmke, a Republican, said in a tweet late Saturday.

The letter Helmke's tweet referenced strongly criticizes GOP Sen. Josh Hawley for planning "to object to counting the votes of certain states won by President-Elect Biden." The letter was signed by dozens of students, alumni and educators of Yale Law School, where Helmke received his law degree in 1973.

Helmke served as mayor of Fort Wayne from 1988 to 2000. He is now a professor of practice at Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental Affairs and is director of the university's Civic Leaders Center.

Hawley, who is a 2006 alumnus of Yale Law School, has said he plans to object to the certification. He is not the only Republican lawmaker who plans to object on Wednesday. Indiana Sen. Mike Braun also plans to do so, as do others.

In all, a group of 11 sitting and incoming Republican senators have said they will object on Wednesday.

The letter contends Hawley's objection "will be as futile as it will be corrosive" and criticizes the senator's "frequent disparaging of so-called 'coastal elites,'" while holding degrees from Stanford University and Yale Law School. The letter also notes that Hawley clerked for the U.S. Supreme Court and held a position at the prestigious Washington D.C. corporate law firm Hogan and Hartson, where he worked from 2008 to 2011.

"Yet while Sen. Hawley's effort is obviously doomed to failure, it is still a bare-faced assault on our democracy and a contemptible gesture toward a coup d'etat by President Donald J. Trump and his supporters," the letter states. "Whether meant to advance the senator's own personal ambitions, or to further erode and ultimately destroy the now fragile underpinnings of our two-century-old republic, the filing of outlandish objections to lawful Biden-Harris slates would be a grave abuse of power."

A joint session of congress will meet Wednesday to certify the 2020 presidential election. The letter in its entirety can be found online at

Sign up for our daily headlines newsletter

Top headlines are sent daily