Arizona’s legislative leadership are hearing calls that seven of their Republican colleagues be banned from the House and Senate. The incoming legislators in question back “Stop The Steal.” They are Republican Representatives Mark Finchem, David Cook, and Walt Blackman along with Republican Senators Wendy Rogers, Kelly Townsend, Sonny Borrelli, and David Livingston.
The “Stop The Steal” movement claims that President Donald Trump won Arizona and the nation in the November 3 election. Both claims are completely false and have been rejected in at least 60 federal and local court actions nationwide, including several in Arizona. Wednesday, the false beliefs and a call for action by President Trump, caused his supporters to riot and temporarily seize the U.S. Capitol Building. As they stormed the halls, Congress's joint session certifying the electoral vote was forced into hiding. The vote was finally certified at 4 a.m Thursday.
"We have substantial evidence that this election was a fraud in six states," Representative-Elect Mark Finchem, (R-LD 11) told to ABC15 Arizona, while walking the streets of Washington DC the morning of the riot. "If there’s violence, it will be at the hands of Antifa."
Finchem, who represents Oro Valley, traveled to Washington to take part in the protests. He posted pictures on Twitter from outside the Capitol with one reading, "What happens when the People feel they have been ignored, and Congress refuses to acknowledge rampant fraud," showing a picture of the protest.
Newly elected Arizona state Senator Wendy Rogers echoed the statement, also on Twitter.
"I condemn the radical Antifa mobs for attacking the Capitol and I condemn the Democrats for wanting to defund the very police who protected them," tweeted Rogers on Wednesday.
Blaming Antifa is a factually incorrect talking point from far-right Republican Party members. In September, FBI Director Christopher Wray said although Antifa is real, it is viewed more as an ideology and not a group.
Rogers also blamed the U.S. Congress for the death of protester Ashli Babbit, who was shot and killed by Capitol Police after she broke windows and tried to enter the halls.
Congress caused the killing of a peaceful unarmed Air Force veteran today because of their ignoring of the requests from the people. She was shot her in the neck & is now deceased. All they had to do was allow for an audit of the machines and votes. This could have been avoided.— Wendy Rogers (@WendyRogersAZ) January 7, 2021
Finchem and Rogers are two of seven elected legislators targeted by a progressive legislative policy group as unfit and dangerous to serve in the Arizona Legislature. Progress Arizona called on House Speaker Rusty Bowers and Senate President Karen Fann to remove the following State Legislators before being sworn in Monday:
- Senator-elect Kelly Townsend representing East Mesa and Gold Canyon
- Senator-elect Sonny Borrelli representing Lake Havasu And Kingman
- Senator-elect David Livingston from Surprise and Sun City
- Representative David Cook of the San Tan and Globe Areas
- Representative-elect Walt Blackman Representing Flagstaff
"We’re calling to expel them based on their behavior that they exhibited and the catastrophes that occurred yesterday at the U.S. Capitol," said Jenny Guzman with Progress Arizona. "At the very least they should hold them accountable by reprimanding them from their chairmanship positions."
Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers and House Majority Leader Ben Toma released this statement Wednesday, condemning the violence at the U.S. Capitol but would not comment on the call to remove the seven legislators:
“In America, we respect and honor the fundamental right to expression and protest so long as it is done so peacefully. However, the behavior that occurred today at the U.S. Capitol Building was anything but. It was a despicable and dangerous assault on the very heart of representative government that cannot be tolerated or excused in a civil society.
“We should all revisit the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln whose words of hope resonate still, in this and many other contexts: ‘We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.’”
Longtime Arizona Legislator and State Senate Minority Leader Rebecca Rios said it is highly unlikely that Arizona’s Majority Leaders will take any action.
"It’s embarrassing, and quite honestly, it’s disturbing," said Rios about her colleagues inciting protest. "They are part of the problem. They have directly incited this uprising, this attempted coup, on our democracy.
"If we are truly concerned about the behaviors of elected individuals here in Arizona, then they need to be held accountable at a minimum. The issue should be addressed by the full body, I have no belief that that will actually happen," said Rios.