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Posts Misleadingly Link Town Clerk’s Case to 2020 Presidential Election

Este artículo estará disponible en español en El Tiempo Latino.

Quick Take

A Michigan town clerk pleaded no contest in 2023 to a charge of misconduct in office. Social media posts misleadingly highlight her case to push the false narrative that the 2020 presidential election was “rigged.” The clerk’s case was related to her local primary race, not the presidential election.

Full Story

Kathy Funk, who was up for reelection as a town clerk in Michigan, in 2020, took a plea deal in a case accusing her of hampering the recount in her primary.

Funk was the clerk in the Township of Flint — which is next to, but separate from, the City of Flint, which garnered national attention in 2015 for its lead water crisis. She had won the Democratic primary for that August 2020 race by 79 votes.

Prosecutors accused her of breaking the seal on a canister of election ballots so that they couldn’t be recounted.

In January 2023, Funk pleaded no contest to one count of misconduct in office, which means that she accepted the punishment but didn’t admit guilt. The punishment, in this case, was two years of probation and six months of house arrest. Prosecutors dropped a charge of ballot tampering.

Funk’s primary election in August 2020 was not related to the general election in November or the Michigan presidential primary, which was held on March 10, 2020.

But the Epoch Times, a conservative publication with a history of spreading misinformation, has posted a video on social media suggesting that this case — which received news coverage when it was resolved a year ago — is new. The video also vaguely refers to Funk’s crime “during the 2020 election cycle,” leaving some viewers to wrongly conclude her actions affected the 2020 presidential election.

A shorter, promotional video for the full five-minute video doesn’t identify Funk — who had left her job as clerk in 2021 to become the elections supervisor for Genesee County. She was placed on administrative leave from her county job when criminal charges were filed against her, and she was terminated in late 2022.

The promotional video uses vague language, saying only, “A woman who was both a county election official as well as a former township clerk, she was convicted of tampering with ballots during the 2020 election cycle.”

It goes on to say, “Specifically during a recount process, this woman, using her official access, spoiled a batch of ballots in order to make them ineligible to be recounted.”

Posts on social media sharing links to the video falsely suggested that Funk’s behavior impacted the 2020 presidential election, a claim that contributes to the ongoing false narrative that the election was “stolen” from former President Donald Trump, who is a primary proponent of this falsehood.

One post on Facebook, for example, said, “TRUMP WAS RIGHT Election Official busted for rigging the 2020 election!!” The page that shared the post is run by a Minnesota-based marketing company called Making Web, which runs conservative digital properties — including a website called Trending Politics that has published false claims we’ve written about before and a website that sells pro-Trump merchandise, such as a flag with the slogan, “make votes count again.”

Another Facebook post said, “RIGGED FROM THE START Election Official busted for rigging the 2020 election!!”

Both of those posts linked to the Epoch Times’ video hosted on the outlet’s website, which requires users to sign in to watch.

The title of the video says only, “Former Election Official Convicted for Ballot Tampering.” The full video gives more details, including Funk’s name and the fact that her case involved only her own primary election. But the comments on the Epoch Times’ video and the social media posts indicate that the details were lost on users, many of whom expressed anger at the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

President Joe Biden won that election with 306 electoral votes, compared with 232 for Trump, according to the Federal Election Commission. Biden also won the popular vote, 51% to 47%.

But the false narrative that the election was stolen has persisted, and claims like the ones made in social media posts about Funk contribute to its longevity.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.


State of Michigan v. Kathy Funk. Docket. Accessed 22 May 2024.

Genesee County, Michigan. Primary Election, Tuesday, August 4, 2020. Official results. 18 Aug 2020.

Michigan Department of Attorney General. Press release. “AG Nessel Charges Former Flint Township Clerk with Ballot Tampering.” 11 Mar 2022.

Michigan Department of Attorney General. Press release. “Former Flint Twp. Clerk Funk Sentenced for Misconduct in Office.” 25 Apr 2023.

Norris, Pippa. Lecturer in Comparative Politics, Harvard University. “Electoral Integrity in the 2020 U.S. Elections.” The Electoral Integrity Project. 1 Dec 2020.

Federal Election Commission. “Federal Elections 2020.” Oct. 2022.