Editor’s Note: This story was updated on September 11, 2023, at 2:55 p.m. to add special grand jury’s recommendation that in addition to racketeering charges, Ligon also be formally charged with “false statements and writings, concealment of facts and fraudulent documents” related to legislative hearings he chaired in December 2020 aimed at proving that year’s presidential elections were a sham.

On Jan. 2, 2021, then state Sen. William T. Ligon, Jr., of Brunswick was a lame duck. Having decided not to seek reelection, it was just days before his successor would take her oath of office and replace him as the representative of the Golden Isles in the legislature’s upper chamber. But that fact hadn’t stopped Ligon from using his position as an influential member of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee to wage a two-month crusade in support of Donald Trump’s debunked belief that the elections in Georgia had been rigged against him and only him.

Former state Sen. William T. Ligon, Jr.

On that day, a handful of Georgia Republicans sent a formal letter under Ligon’s formal letterhead to Vice President Mike Pence imploring him to do what Trump had asked — not certify Georgia election results. That desperate manuever — Joe Biden’s swearing-in was less than three weeks away — forms part of the underlying conspiracy charges brought against the former president and 18 others in the Fulton County prosecution.

A key person missing from that list of criminal defendants is the 62-year-old Ligon himself — despite the recommendations of the special grand jury in Fulton County.

By a vote of 20-1, the grand jury voted to indict Ligon, a lawyer, on charges of racketeering in connection with the “national effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election.”

By a vote of 19-0, with two abstentions, the panel also recommended that the 62-year-old Ligon be indicted for “false statements and writings, concealment of facts and fraudulent documents” related to legislative hearings he chaired in December 2020 aimed at proving that year’s presidential elections were a sham.

It’s unclear why Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis did not pursue charges against Ligon. Her office is thought to have offered immunity to people who had been targets of the investigation in exchange for testimony against others who she alleges participated in the conspiracy to overturn the 2020 elections.

Ligon, who founded the Ligon Firm in Brunswick, did not respond to requests for comment. 

At least one other Coastal Georgian whom the grand jury voted to indict but who was not charged is C.B. Yadav, a businessman in Camden County who was a member of the fake elector list. Brad Carver, also a fake elector whom the grand jury voted to indict, is among the top recipients of taxpayer funding from the doomed Camden Spaceport project.

Ligon is a household name in Glynn County, where he was born and where he practiced law before serving for 10 years as a state senator. His legislative record reflects a penchant for legal technicalities and minutiae, through sponsoring bills that appended and amended wording in existing law, and for conservative, pro-business values, such as removing surcharges billed to companies involved in toxic coal ash dumping and storage.

He gained statewide and national prominence in the weeks after the 2020 elections as a vociferous supporter of the debunked arguments that the vote in Georgia was invalid due both technical means and human criminal behavior.

Ligon built on his position as head of a study group on election law organized under the Judiciary Committee to win appointment as chairman of a special subcommittee to look into election “improprieties” in Georgia, after the Trump campaign had tried unsuccessfully to litigate the issue in Georgia courts and in U.S. federal court. (Read more about the Trump campaign’s original lawsuit filed in Georgia, which was in Chatham County.) 

Ligon convened the panel on Dec. 3, presiding over seven hours of testimony, during which Republican poll watchers from multiple Georgia counties invited to testify aired their allegations of vote tampering. Among those who gave testimony was Tony Burrison of Savannah, whose criticisms of the Chatham County vote had already been dismissed by Superior Court Judge James Bass.

Rudy Guiliani talks with Georgia State Sens. Jen Jordan (D-Atlanta) and Elena Parent (D-Atlanta) during a break in a Georgia State Senate hearing Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Credit: Stephen Fowler / GPB News

His committee star witnesses, Rudy Guliani, John Eastman, were both indicted on multiple counts of conspiracy and racketeering charges by the Fulton County District Attorney.

Ligon released a report summarizing the outlandish claims, a document never formally accepted by the Judiciary Committee, but nevertheless touted as an official record of threats and fraud by the Trump wing of the Republican Party. Those who agreed to “adopt” the report included Sen. Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia) and  Bill Heath (R- Bremen).

Ligon then became a member of the Georgia Republican Party’s “election confidence” task force that made sweeping recommendations to crack down on voting rights based on the outlandish claims memorialized in his study. 

Ligon joined Sen. Burt Jones and others in efforts to call a special session of the legislature to override the 2020 election results, something that Gov. Brian Kemp and former Lt. Gov Geoff Duncan as well as the Senate Republican Caucus said would be illegal. Jones was among the targets of the Fulton County grand jury proceedings, until a judge ordered that his investigation be handled separately.

When none of those tactics worked, Ligon signed the Jan. 2 letter to Vice President Mike Pence urging him to not certify the election results when Congress convened on Jan. 6, 2021. The violent uprising against those proceedings by Trump supporters have led to multiple convictions of seditious conspiracy and form the backbone of ongoing federal charges against the former president.

Ligon remains a lawyer in good standing, according to the Georgia Bar Association. 

Margaret Coker is editor-in-chief of The Current GA. She started her two-decade career in journalism at Cox Newspapers before going to work at The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. In that time...