Researcher told the Arizona Senate that claims of counterfeit 2020 ballots were 'utter rubbish'

A researcher the Arizona Senate hired to double-check an analysis of ballots by election conspiracy theorist Jovan Pulitzer said his claims that there were upwards of 12,000 counterfeit ballots were “utter rubbish.”

A trove of newly released documents related to the Arizona Senate’s partisan review of the 2020 presidential election shows that EchoMail CEO Shiva Ayyadurai was hired to review Pulitzer’s work. Pulitzer, an election conspiracy theorist known best for an “invention” dubbed “kinematic artifact detection,” has built a rabid following in the election fraud conspiracy world even though he has no background in election work.

“Per your request, I spent time reviewing the nonsense,” Ayyadurai wrote in an email to Senate President Karen Fann and Randy Pullen, one of Fann’s liaisons to the so-called “audit.” “It was painful to read this utter rubbish.”

Pulitzer was hired by the Florida-based firm Cyber Ninjas to work on the Senate’s partisan election review. Cyber Ninjas, which had no experience in analyzing elections and was run by a man who spread baseless claims of election fraud and tried to overturn the election, was empowered to hire whomever it wanted without Senate approval.

Ayyadurai slammed Pulitzer’s work, saying that Pulitzer should face criminal investigation for “fraud” and recommending that the Senate not publish the report.

“It is filled with blatant prevarications that demand either a full blown criminal investigation of fraud of the author of this rubbish or at minimum complete disassociation from him to ensure integrity of the election integrity efforts and to honor those who are truly doing the real work to identify real problems,” Ayyadurai said in his email to Fann and Pullen in February.

Ayyadurai charged the Senate $2,500 for the analysis. The Senate paid that money on top of the $150,000 it agreed to pay Cyber Ninjas.

In his report, Pulitzer alleged that ballots were printed in foreign countries, ballots were counterfeit and that bleed-through caused large-scale problems. All of those accusations have been thoroughly debunked by Maricopa County and independent fact-checkers.

Pulitzer’s company that contracted with Cyber Ninjas was created on the day he signed the contract, according to records from the Utah Corporation Commission.

In January, Pulitzer threatened possible legal action against the Senate, alleging that it had infringed on his intellectual copyrights by sharing ballot images with Ayyadurai.

“It is our firm belief the transfer of these images to outside or other parties will compromise our Intellectual Property and would surely make up ‘willful infringement’ and the damages would easily be over $3,000,000 (since we severely discounted our services being used in the Arizona audit),” Pulitzer said in his email to Fann and others.

Pulitzer further went on to say that, by hiring Ayyadurai to inspect his work, Fann and others were helping to “fuel Arizona’s citizens’ distrust” of the Senate’s election review.

“We further think with all the conspiracy theories, stories, rumors, and doubts cast on the handling of the 2020 Arizona Senate audit of the General Election by the Senate, that an event like this would further fuel Arizona’s citizens’ distrust of their Arizona Legislators,” Pulitzer said. “It is apparent Arizona citizens are on pins and needles waiting for action and this is a tinderbox ready to explode on lawmakers if confidence by the public continues to erode.”

Pulitzer in turn sought access to the materials that were given to Ayyadurai for his flawed evaluation of early ballot envelopes, and complained when they weren’t turned over to him.

“For months we have been asking for some number confirmations regarding ‘envelopes found with no signatures’ by Dr. Shiva,” Pulitzer said in a January email, referring to Ayyadurai’s findings.

Pulitzer accused the Senate of not turning over the materials because Pullen “hates (Pulitzer’s) guts and is not going to give (him) anything.”

“We do not think it would be appropriate to publish our report that we were denied access due to ‘Randy Pullen hating Jovan’ – we think that would enrage the public when all anyone wants is hard numbers,” Pulitzer said in his email to Fann.

Pulitzer has since publicly turned on the Arizona Senate. On his Twitter and Telegram channels, Pulitzer frequently creates hashtags and publishes photos of Republican senators with derogatory comments, often saying that they are against election integrity.

Lately, Pulitzer has been sharing a meme that includes himself, Fann and Kory Langhofer, the Senate’s attorney. In the meme, Pulitzer is saying there has been no “official debrief” of his report because Langhofer won’t let him give one. Pulitzer has also shared a similar photo of Attorney General Mark Brnovich, calling him a “traitor.”

In the email records, Pulitzer has requested a “debrief” multiple times with Jennifer Wright, an assistant to the attorney general who leads Brnovich’s Election Integrity Unit. Pulitzer has on several occasions sent her reports and “explainer” videos he created related to his work.

“Jennifer, we still need to do a debrief,” Pulitzer said in a March email to Wright. The email was copied to Fann, Flagstaff Republican Sen. Wendy Rogers and Sen. Sonny Borrelli.

Pulitzer originally planned to bill Cyber Ninjas $2.1 million for his work — a fee of $1 per ballot examined — before cutting the price by 90% and charging $210,000.

Ayyadurai claimed in an email that he was never paid his original fee of $50,000 by Cyber Ninjas. Ayyadurai later slammed the “audit” leaders as grifters in a report he issued earlier this year.


Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

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‘Audit’ records show Cyber Ninjas went deep into debt, despite pro-Trump donations

Newly released documents by the watchdog group American Oversight show that the Arizona Senate’s partisan review of the 2020 presidential election in Maricopa County went over its proposed budget and spent more money than it had available to it.

More than a thousand pages of records that were in the possession of Cyber Ninjas, the now-defunct Florida company the Senate hired to do the review, were released as part of an ongoing lawsuit. Until providing these records, Cyber Ninjas has refused to turn over documents, despite court orders to do so — and daily $50,000 fines that now total $4.3 million.

Some of the documents released Tuesday include contracts between Cyber Ninjas and its many subcontractors who worked alongside Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan. The documents offer insights into the scope of work and the amount of money offered to each subcontractor for their work on the so-called “audit.”

Previously, Cyber Ninjas had released some information about the groups who had funneled money into the “audit” effort, which amounted to approximately $5.7 million from pro-Donald Trump groups.

A document prepared by an unnamed independent accountant showed that those funds were not able to cover the operating costs of the audit which came in at approximately $8.8 million, the bulk of which was $5.2 million in payroll and labor. The report cited a loss of more than $2.1 million for Cyber Ninjas, though the accounting firm noted that Logan failed to submit balance sheets, statements of cash flows and other documents ordinarily included in financial statements.

As of Sept. 15, 2021, the accountant’s report also notes that Cyber Ninjas owed “audit” subcontractors more than $1.9 million.

In its original statement of work for the Arizona Senate, Cyber Ninjas stated it would complete the work for $150,000. However, the payments Cyber Ninjas promised its subcontractors would balloon that and costs would quickly go higher from there.

The documents also showed that conspiracy theorist Jovan Hutton Pulitzer originally planned to bill Cyber Ninjas $2.1 million for his work, but offered “deep discounting” to reduce his fee to $210,000. A line item in the operating expense report titled “research/artifacts” is listed as costing $210,000. Pulitzer is known for an “invention” dubbed “kinematic artifact detection.”

One subcontractor, EchoMail, run by Shiva Ayyadurai, claimed in an email that he was never paid. Ayyadurai, who was later hired by the Senate directly to conduct a flawed analysis of early ballot affidavit envelopes, slammed the “audit” leaders as grifters in a report he issued earlier this year.

Earlier this year Logan revealed that Cyber Ninjas had declared bankruptcy and that he’d be attempting to create a new organization with the same employees.


Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

Courts reject 'insurrectionist' ballot challenge to GOP congressmen Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar

The Arizona Supreme Court flatly rejected an attempt to disqualify Republican Congressmen Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar and State Rep. Mark Finchem from the 2022 ballot for their alleged roles in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

“The Candidates are not disqualified from appearing on the ballot for the 2022 primary election,” the court ruled Monday. The justices agreed with a lower court’s determination that the authority to disqualify candidates under the Fourteenth Amendment rests more in the hands of Congress than it does in the hands of the courts.

The decision comes from a trio of lawsuits that are part of a growing legal effort to use the Fourteenth Amendment to disqualify candidates because of their support of the Jan. 6 attack, claiming they are “insurrectionists” and thus unable to hold public office. The amendment was adopted during Reconstruction after the Civil War and was intended to bar Confederate leaders from being elected to positions of power.

Biggs and Gosar are seeking re-election, while Finchem is running for secretary of state.

Free Speech For People, which filed the lawsuits, said the Supreme Court ruling “gives a pass to political violence as a tool for disrupting and overturning free and fair elections.”

Free Speech For People, the group behind the suits, has made a similar challenge in the past: It sought to have North Carolina U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn barred from that state’s ballot on the grounds that he is disqualified by the Fourteenth Amendment. But the attempt has so far fallen flat after a federal judge appointed by former President Donald Trump ruled that the Amnesty Act of 1872 gave amnesty to all future insurrectionists.

In the lower court’s decision, the judge noted that Finchem, Gosar and Biggs have not been “charged with or convicted of any state or federal crime that relates to insurrection or rebellion.”

Arizona Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick did not participate in deciding the case; his wife, state Rep. Shawnna Bolick, is also running for secretary of state.

The Arizona Supreme Court denied a motion by Gosar requesting attorney fees in the case.


Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

Republican Paul Gosar spent nearly $8,000 of taxpayer money to attend events with far-right groups

Prescott Republican Congressman Paul Gosar spent more than $7,800 for travel, lodging and vehicle expenses while attending events with far-right groups and white nationalists, according to a review of the congressman’s finances by a nonpartisan watchdog group.

The Moonlight Foundation conducted a review of congressional travel that showed Gosar has spent more on travel than any other congressman in the past five years. An additional review of the data by CNN found he has spent nearly $1 million on travel since 2016 — including having taxpayers pay for his trip to speak at a white nationalist conference in Florida in 2021.

Gosar was the first sitting politician to attend the America First Political Action Conference, or AFPAC for short, that is organized by white nationalist Nick Fuentes who Gosar is now attempting to distance himself from.

Paul Gosar spoke to a white nationalist conference, and they chanted his name

Gosar spent nearly $3,500 to travel to Florida with his chief of staff Tom Van Flein to attend both the Conservative Political Action Conference and AFPAC. While there, the pair billed an additional $1,000 in hotel rooms. Gosar also charged the government an additional $1,000 for what appears to be a single day vehicle rental during that week.

In July 2018, Gosar came under scrutiny for having a lengthy dinner with Belgian official Filip DeWinter, a leader in the far-right Flemish Nationalist party that traces its roots back the Vlaams Blok, which sought to collaborate with the Nazis in WWII.

Gosar was speaking with DeWinter about an anti-Muslim activist who was jailed in the United Kingdom for breaking rules barring reporting on ongoing court cases. Initially, Gosar told a house ethics committee that a group named the Middle East Forum had paid for the trip. However, an analysis by CNN found he charged taxpayers $2,300 in commercial travel expenses.

A day after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump, Gosar charged $1,787 on commercial transportation, the Moonlight Foundation found.

A spokesman for Gosar’s office told CNN that the expenses were all within the realm of official activity and have been reviewed both “in-house” and by the House of Representatives. However, lawmaker spending is largely protected from public scrutiny, as expenses are filed under general categories such as “commercial transportation” or “travel.”

Gosar has far outspent other members of Arizona’s delegation. Republican Congressmen Andy Biggs spent only $69,000 in 2021 and David Schweikert spent just $47,000.


Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

Extremists tried to crash abortion rights rally – but got arrested instead

A group of far-right extremists with ties to white nationalists tried to counter-protest an abortion rights rally held at the Arizona Capitol Tuesday night, where they were vastly outnumbered and one was arrested for violently attacking a demonstrator.

Michael Merritt Graham, 34, was arrested by the Arizona Department of Public Safety and booked for suspicion of assault and disorderly conduct after state troopers witnessed him punch another person at the rally.

Graham, who was wearing a shirt with the slogan “Baby Lives Matter” from the disinformation website InfoWars, was carrying a .45 caliber Glock 36 pistol when he was arrested, according to a police report obtained by the Arizona Mirror. Graham was not the only counter-protester who was armed: The Mirror observed other counter-protesters openly carrying firearms. Graham had his handgun tucked into his waistband out of view, according to the police report.

Graham was among roughly 20 counter-protesters who showed up to the event where over one thousand protesters marched in support of abortion rights in the wake of a leaked U.S. Supreme Court opinion that would overturn the landmark court decision of Roe v. Wade and strip the right of women to seek an abortion that was established nearly 50 years ago.

Graham was joined by Ethan Schmidt, an anti-LGBTQ extremist and provocateur, known mostly for stunts challenging mask mandates and for “hunting” what he deems “LGBT pedophiles.” Hours before Graham was arrested, Schmidt walked straight into the crowd of protesters as he was recording video in an apparent attempt to spark a confrontation.

Near the end of the evening, Schmidt and Graham confronted protesters with bullhorns.

According to the police report, Graham got into a physical altercation with a protester. The incident began when Graham ripped the protester’s sign out of his hands and threw it to the ground. The victim then stepped in front of his girlfriend and grabbed Graham’s bullhorn before leaning down to pick up the sign.

Graham responded by hitting the man in his face, bloodying him.

Graham then started to leave the crowd and encountered Jace Robert Denis, 20, another protester. Troopers wrote that they saw Graham hit Denis, who described it as a “sucker punch.”

Denis began running after Graham “in an aggressive manner” and DPS arrested him, booking him for suspicion of disorderly conduct.

Denis told troopers that Graham had punched “another male” twice and “started walking towards a black female.” Denis ran towards Graham to get in between him and the woman yelling “don’t” before Graham threw the punch, Denis told troopers.

But DPS didn’t just put Graham and Denis in cuffs that night.

Schmidt was also detained by state troopers; he was later released without being charged.

Schmidt, who is currently awaiting sentencing on an extreme DUI in Chandler, was far from the only far-right extremist present among the counter-protesters.

In attendance were also members of the group American Populist Union, which is closely aligned with groypers, a group of white nationalists who strive for their ideas to become a part of the Republican mainstream and are largely followers of 23-year-old white nationalist Nick Fuentes.

And Kyle Clifton, a Fuentes acolyte with ties to APU, was also among the counter-protesters.

Clifton was behind an account on Instagram called “afu.arizona” which posted white nationalist messaging, touted the “great replacement” theory and antisemitic images.

Antisemitism was present among the counterprotesters with some spewing rants about “freemasonry” when debating with abortion rights activists. Many of the Freemason conspiracy theories are rooted in antisemitism and can be traced back to an antisemitic hoax from more than a century ago.

Clifton arrived with a group of Kari Lake campaign staff members who were part of the counter-protest, where they also handed out Kari Lake campaign signs. Among them was Matthew Martinez, Lake’s field manager, who was said to have been disciplined by the campaign for infiltrating leftist ASU groups.

“The Lake campaign did not organize the counter-protest,” Sam Stone, the policy director for Lake’s campaign, told the Mirror. “Everyone was kind of showing up at the same time.”

Stone said that no one associated with the campaign was aware of who Clifton was. He added that the counter-protest falls within the realm of “field activity,” and that many conservatives consider Lake to be the “candidate for them” when asked about the signs at the event.

DPS may also be getting a call from the Lake campaign, Stone said: One of the Lake staffers allegedly was spit on by an abortion rights activist.

“I tend to believe that you settle these things at the ballot box, but I tend to believe that fits the description of assault,” Stone said, adding that they may send the video they have to DPS.


Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

Republican Paul Gosar tweeted a meme used by neo-Nazis on Holocaust Remembrance Day

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, Republican Congressman Paul Gosar posted — and later deleted — a meme rooted in violent and racist online culture that was praised by neo-Nazis and white nationalists.

This story contains descriptions of videos and images of a racially charged nature, as do some of the links.

Gosar’s social media postings on Twitter and Gab featured a picture of the Prescott Republican with a red filter that is part of the meme movement known as “DarkMAGA,” an aesthetic that evokes a dystopian view of the world and pushes for former President Donald Trump and other conservatives to be more violent and hardlined with their rhetoric.

“Remember when our government sent planes to Afghanistan and brought over 100,000 Afghans in less than a week?” Gosar wrote. “We have in the range of up to 40 million illegal aliens in our country. They can be deported by planes, trains and buses. We could easily deport 6 million each year.”

Many of the people who quote tweeted Gosar’s original tweet included the hashtag #DarkMAGA and also pointed out and celebrated the 6 million number which is approximately the number of Jews killed during the Holocaust.

“6 million is possible in this story, unlike that other one,” one user wrote, quoting Gosar’s tweet. Others quote-tweeted Gosar’s post and used antisemitic language popular among neo-Nazis and white nationalists. On Gosar’s Gab post, similar comments were also seen.

“U want a Holocaust each year!!??” one Gab user wrote while posting an antisemitc picture.

Many who shared the tweet and commented on the Gab post expressed excitement over Gosar’s open embrace of the new meme culture.

“#DarkMAGA is catching on,” one user exclaimed.

Many others also saw the tweet as a call to action and violence.

“A 9mm round is $0.49,” one user on Gab wrote, while one Twitter user wrote “#DayOfThePlane,” a reference to the white supremacist book the Turner Diaries in which white supremacist rebels take over California and engage in mass lynchings. The book was an inspiration for Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

Rory McShane, a political consultant for Gosar’s campaign, said the number had nothing to do with the Holocaust. Rather, he said the number came from extrapolating the weekly number of Afghan refugees evacuated after U.S. troops withdrew from the country last year into a yearly total.

McShane said 115,000 people were evacuated a week. When multiplied by 52 weeks, that would equal 5.98 million people. It’s unclear where the 115,000 figure came from, as media reports from the time noted that the United States was able to evacuate approximately 123,000 refugees in the immediate two weeks after the withdrawal. McShane did not respond to follow-up questions about the numbers.

McShane said no one on Gosar’s senior staff was aware of the #DarkMAGA meme or movement prior to the Arizona Mirror asking about the social media posts. Shortly after speaking with the Mirror, a new version of the tweet without the photo or the 6 million number was posted and the previous posts were deleted.

The #DarkMAGA movement has roots in accelerationist neo-Nazi meme culture and many memes related to it often express a desire for violence against percieved enemies. In many cases, they are accompanied by neo-Nazi imagery.

“I did not know what DarkMAGA was until you brought it to my attention,” McShane told the Mirror. He said Gosar’s use of the imagery was not an endorsement of the views of others who use its style: “The red sepia tone on the picture had no implications.”

This isn’t the first time Gosar has posted, and then deleted, a meme with imagery that is popular in neo-Nazi online culture.

Gosar Grindset

Last year, Gosar tweeted out a meme titled “#GosarGrindset,” which begins with a cartoon image of a man looking dismayed as a number of headlines are displayed while the song “Little Dark Age” by MGMT plays.

Before the song crescendos, a muscular cartoon with Gosar’s head superimposed on it appears in a doorway and a montage of Gosar is played before another image of the congressman’s head on a muscular man is shown while a spinning “America First” logo is shown around his head.

The meme follows a format that is popular among online neo-Nazis and white nationalists who take the same song and superimpose it with images from Nazi Germany, as well as other imagery, the Mirror found.

A search for “Little Dark Age” on the popular video sharing site BitChute found a number of similar videos that were posted well before the Gosar video that all follow the same theme.

One video depicts the same images of the same cartoon man, also known as Doomer guy, looking at headlines about migration, including language that evokes the conspiracy theory of the “Great Replacement.”

That idea, popular among white supremacists, holds that white Americans are being replaced by immigrants, usually as part of an intentional plot. It has been seized upon by extremist groups such as the American Identity Movement and Generation Identity.

It has also inspired violence. Fears of immigrants undermining his vision of a white, Christian Europe motivated Anders Behring Breivik’s murderous rampage in 2011 at a Norwegian youth summer camp.

In the U.S., the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh in 2018 was the deadliest attack against the Jewish community in United States history. Just before it took place, the killer took to right-wing social media site Gab to say he believed that immigrants were being brought in to replace and “kill our people.”

The next year in New Zealand, a shooter killed 51 people and injured 40 after posting a 74-page manifesto titled “The Great Replacement.”

Again in 2019, in El Paso, Texas, a shooter who went on to kill 23 in a Walmart would cite the manifesto in one of his own, saying it was a response to the “hispanic invasion of Texas.”

The “Doomer guy” video goes on to show images of Germany during WWII and films depicting the ancient Romans, who have often been a target for Nazis of the past and Neo-Nazis for appropriation.


Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

Judge dismisses case to disqualify Gosar, Biggs and Finchem from ballot as 'insurrectionists'

A trio of lawsuits that sought to disqualify Republican Congressmen Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar and state Rep. Mark Finchem from the ballot for their alleged roles in the January 6 attack on the Capitol was dismissed Friday.

“This Court will follow the restrained and judicious lead of the federal courts,” Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Christopher Coury wrote. “Arizona’s election challenge framework is ill-suited for the detailed analysis of the complex constitutional, legal and factual issues presented in this case.”

The lawsuits are part of a growing legal effort to use the Fourteenth Amendment to disqualify candidates because of their support of the January 6 attack, claiming they are “insurrectionists” and thus unable to hold public office. The amendment was adopted during Reconstruction after the Civil War and was intended to bar Confederate leaders from being elected to positions of power.

Biggs and Gosar are seeking re-election, while Finchem is running for secretary of state.

Free Speech For People, the group behind the suits, has made a similar challenge in the past: It sought to have North Carolina U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn barred from that state’s ballot on the grounds that he is disqualified by the Fourteenth Amendment. But the attempt failed when a federal judge appointed by former President Donald Trump ruled that the Amnesty Act of 1872 gave amnesty to all future insurrectionists.

In his advisory opinion, Coury noted that Finchem, Gosar and Biggs have not been “charged with or convicted of any state or federal crime that relates to insurrection or rebellion.”

Both Biggs and Gosar argued that only Congress has the constitutional power to judge the qualifications of its members, an argument that Coury found persuasive.

“It would contradict the plain language of the United States Constitution for this Court to conduct any trial over the qualifications of a member of Congress,” Coury’s opinion said. “Moreover, a state judicial trial relating to the qualifications of Rep. Biggs and Rep. Gosar arguably implicates the doctrines of federalism and separation of powers between the branches of the government.”

Despite the court dismissing the case, Coury made it clear that it was not giving an opinion on the trio’s involvement in Jan. 6 or that they still may face legal repercussions.

“To be clear, it is a mistake to conclude that the Court is opining that the Candidates’ involvement in the events of January 6, 2021 never can be subject to any judicial review,” the judge wrote. “This decision should not be misconstrued in this way. Indeed, there may be a different time and type of case in which the Candidates’ involvement in the events of that day appropriately can and will be adjudicated in court.”

Free Speech For People told the Arizona Mirror it intends to appeal.

“This ruling is contrary to the law,” the organization said in a statement. “Arizona is not exempted from the mandate of Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. A candidate who has taken an oath of office and then engaged in insurrection has no place on a future Arizona ballot. We will be appealing this decision to the Arizona Supreme Court.”

Coury said the “ultimate trial” will be the “one decided by Arizona voters who will have the final voice about whether each Candidate should, or should not, serve in elective office.”


Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

GOP bill allowing teachers to be sued for 'usurping' parental rights clears Arizona Senate

A bill to allow parents to sue Arizona teachers for “usurping the fundamental right” of a parent in raising their children won approval from state Senate Republicans on Monday and is one vote away from Gov. Doug Ducey’s desk.

Supporters of the bill said it was necessary to subject teachers to lawsuits in order to bring transparency to schools, which they said have been asking “inappropriate questions” of students. The main impetus for the legislation were student surveys sent out by schools — often aimed at identifying students struggling with mental health during the pandemic — that made headlines in a number of states and locally.

House Bill 2161 by Rep. Steve Kaiser, R-Phoenix, began its legislative life as a more controversial bill that would have forced teachers to tell parents everything a student tells them — including outing them if a student confides in a teacher that they are LGBTQ.

The bill was eventually amended to remove that language. Kaiser insisted that the bill was never meant as “an attack” on the LGBTQ community, even though it specifically said teachers would have to disclose information about a student’s “purported gender identity” or a request to transition to a gender other than the “student’s biological sex.” It was also drafted by two historically anti-LGBTQ groups.

The bill in its current form prohibits a school, political subdivision or government from “usurping the fundamental right” of a parent in raising their children, allows a parent to bring a civil suit against any government entity or official that violates the Parents’ Bill of Rights in Arizona law, gives parents the rights to all written or electronic records from a school about their child — including a students counseling records — and requires schools to notify parents before a survey is conducted of students, among other changes.

“I am a hard ‘no’ on this bill,” Sen. Christine Marsh, a Phoenix Democrat and the 2016 Arizona Teacher of the Year, said when explaining her vote on the floor Monday afternoon. She added that the vague wording of “usurping the fundamental right” in the bill will likely lead to many parents filing lawsuits.

“Anything could potentially qualify for it so we might have a whole bunch of teachers going to court for this,” she said.

Those concerns were also echoed by her Democratic colleagues during committee hearings on the bill who feared that if passed, the bill could see librarians getting in trouble for recommending books that conflict with a parent’s worldview.

Kaiser, the bill’s sponsor, said in committee that the aim is to have parents involved with the child in that process.

The bill passed 16-12. Because it was amended in the Senate, it returns to the House of Representatives for a final vote, after which it would go to Ducey for final action.


Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

UPDATE: Paul Gosar promoted appearing at a white nationalist social gathering on Hitler’s birthday -- but his campaign says he isn’t

UPDATE: Three hours after this story was published, Congressman Paul Gosar’s campaign consultant told the Arizona Mirror that the congressman would not be attending the white nationalist group’s event on April 20. Instead, he said Gosar had a “farm tour” scheduled for that day. Rory McShane said that American Populist Union never contacted Gosar or his campaign. As noted below, Gosar’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment before the story was published.
McShane did not immediately respond to questions about why Gosar promoted his planned appearance at the American Populist Union event on his official Instagram account.

This story has been updated to reflect the latest developments, and its headline has been changed.

Prescott Republican Congressman Paul Gosar was listed as a “special guest” with the white nationalist American Populist Union at an event that will be on a date popular among white nationalists and Neo-Nazis: Hitler’s birthday.

The American Populist Social will be held in Tempe on April 20, a date revered by white supremacists and Neo-Nazis.

But Gosar’s campaign says he isn’t attending and it doesn’t know how he was listed as a guest of honor, even though Gosar promoted his scheduled appearance on social media.

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The American Populist Union is closely aligned with groypers, a group of white nationalists who strive for their ideas to become a part of the Republican mainstream and are largely followers of 23-year-old white nationalist Nick Fuentes. In 2021, Gosar was the first elected official to speak at Fuentes’ America First Political Action Conference in 2021. This year, the conference saw speeches by Gosar, Rogers and U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Earlier this month, Gosar said his March video message to attendees of AFPAC was the fault of a staffer who sent his video message to the wrong group. He distanced himself from Fuentes, telling Politico that the young Holocaust-denying racist “has a problem with his mouth.”

Fuentes shared the story on the encrypted messaging app Telegram with the message “April Fool’s!” and later said in a livestream that he and Gosar will continue to “collaborate behind the scenes.”

American Populist Union has connections to Fuentes ideologically and through its members. The group hobnobbed with Arizona politicians in December when it held an event across the street from Turning Point USA that attracted a slew of fringe activists and groypers.

The other featured guest at the event, John Doyle, has allied with and promoted groypers, and he organized a “Stop the Steal” rally in Michigan with Fuentes. Doyle, a YouTube personality who runs a show called “Heck off Commie,” regularly advocates far-right ideology. He has said that Martin Luther King was “not a hero” and has claimed that liberalism is linked to satanism.

Doyle has also posted highly misogynistic content, such as saying that women shouldn’t be allowed to vote, and he once called for “low IQ offenders” to be executed in response to a story about a Black man committing a violent crime. Doyle, along with other members of APU, were also in attendance at the first 76Fest which was dubbed “Hitler Youth, without the Hitler” by one of its organizers.

Arizona state Sen. Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert, is also listed as a featured guest, but he told the Arizona Mirror he is not attending.

“When they first contacted me, I thought it was a County Young Republican event,” Petersen said. “After I realized it was an organization I was unfamiliar with, I respectfully declined to speak.”

APU did not respond to a request for comment asking it chose April 20 — a Wednesday — for its event. The organization still lists Petersen as a “special guest” at the event.

Gosar’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

After this story was published, Gosar’s campaign consultant told the Arizona Mirror that the congressman would not be attending the white nationalist group’s event on April 20. Instead, he said Gosar had a “farm tour” scheduled for that day. Rory McShane said that American Populist Union never contacted Gosar, his staff or his campaign.

On April 2, Gosar promoted the American Populist Union event, and his appearance, in an Instagram story. McShane didn’t immediately respond to requests about what Gosar did that if he had no idea he was scheduled to attend it.

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Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

Feds want to know why QAnon's Ron Watkins failed to disclose 40% of his campaign's money

The man purported to be Q has run afoul of the Federal Elections Commission for failing to correctly report how much he raised and spent during his first quarter as a congressional candidate in a rural Arizona district.

The FEC sent a letter to conspiracy theorist Ron Watkins’ campaign this week asking for explanations after his campaign filed an amended campaign finance report that showed he initially failed to report nearly $21,000 — about 40% of what he says he has raised.

"Failure to adequately respond by the response date noted above could result in an audit or enforcement action,” the FEC wrote to Watkins, who also serves as the treasurer of his campaign. He has until Saturday to respond. The FEC also noted that Watkins’ amended disclosure also does not fully disclose the names, addresses and information of some prominent donors, details that are required by federal election law.

Several entries for people who donated amounts in the thousands of dollars have “info requested” listed under their occupation, which the FEC said was “not considered acceptable.”

“You must provide the missing information, or if you are unable to do so, you must demonstrate that ‘best efforts’ have been used to obtain the information,” the letter says.

In Watkins’ original campaign finance report filed at the end of last year, the man who is widely believed to have been behind QAnon’s master account reported having received $30,589. In the amended filing made on March 24, Watkins reported having $51,214.

Watkins also reported more expenditures and cash on hand in the amended report.

In the initial filing, Watkins reported having around $15,000 on hand after spending about $17,000 on operating expenses. The amended report shows the campaign really had twice as much cash, reporting $30,299 on hand after spending nearly $23,000.

Watkins also left out a $2,300 airfare expenditure and a “COVID Test” in his original filing report, both billed to Asiana Airlines.

Prior to coming to Arizona, Watkins was living in Japan for about a year. Before that, he had also lived in China and the Philippines, where the online image boards 8chan and 8kun were based.

“Ron Watkins isn’t new to putting out false information, but there are much greater consequences for lying to the FEC than to users on 4chan,” Campaign for Accountability Executive Director Michelle Kuppersmith said to the Arizona Mirror about the filing. “Ignorance is not a valid excuse for filing false or incomplete reports, and the FEC should consider all appropriate punitive actions if no better reason is offered.”

Watkins did not respond to a request for comment about the filings and the letter from the FEC.

Any response by Watkins to the commission will be public record and the commission will consider it before taking any action against Watkin’s committee. Watkins won’t be able to file for an extension on the letter submitted by the FEC.

Before QAnon, many came to associate Watkins with an online image board called 8chan, which was later renamed 8kun. Watkins didn’t create the site — its founder was Fredrick Brennan, who would later cut ties with the website — but he became its administrator after his father, Jim Watkins, purchased it.

The site has become a hotbed for hosting extremist and illicit content. It has hosted child porn, and white supremacist mass shooters have used it as a platform to spread their manifestos.

The Christchurch shooter in New Zealand said that he frequented the 4chan and 8chan message boards where far-right and white supremacist rhetoric was prevalent, and directly linked to other real-life hate crimes. The website also promoted antisemitism, at one point creating a cryptocurrency for users to boost their posts with a program they called “King of the Shekel.”

However, 8kun’s most active board by far is “Q Research.” As of March 30, the board had more than 1,700 unique users and over 16 million posts.

In launching his campaign, Watkins has begun to distance himself from QAnon, going so far as to claim he is not associated with the movement, however, he still was the headlining speaker at a QAnon conference in Las Vegas with other Arizona candidates.

Brennan, the former administrator of 8chan firmly believes that either Ron or Jim Watkins were the ones behind the QAnon posts, though both men have firmly denied being involved with the postings.

Bill to ban books with descriptions of sex from Arizona schools moves forward

A bill that would essentially ban the teaching of books like “The Color Purple,” “The Canterbury Tales” and “Atlas Shrugged” from Arizona schools because they contain frank descriptions of sex and sexuality moved forward in the Senate Tuesday.

The legislation bans schools from teaching or directing students to study any material that is “sexually explicit,” which the bill defines as “masturbation, sexual intercourse or physical contact with a person’s clothed or unclothed genitals, pubic area, buttocks or if such person is female, breast.” An earlier version of the bill also included homosexuality but the bill was later amended to remove the reference.

An amendment was also added to the bill by Rep. Michelle Udall, R-Mesa, that allowed for classical literature, early American literature and literature needed for college credit to still be allowed, but only with parental consent.

Rep. Jake Hoffman, R-Queen Creek, the sponsor of House Bill 2495, argued before the Senate Education Committee Tuesday that the bill was not about “sex ed” and was instead about keeping sexually explicit material out of the hands of children.

However, the bill has ties to a group who has been fighting against sex education in the state and Hoffman continued to cite examples from a book that caused a firestorm among conservative activists in 2019.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Hoffman once again showed images, which he previously presented in the House Education Committee, that he said he had to get “clearance” with the Arizona Department of Public Safety and legislative attorneys before printing. One image was a cartoon of a man and woman having sex, while others were cartoons of a boy masturbating.

They come from a 1994 book, “It’s Perfectly Normal,” that has been a frequent target of bans for its depictions of puberty, sex and masturbation. The book is aimed at teaching children 10 and older about sexual health, emotional health and relationships. It contains sections on puberty, pregnancy and sexual orientation, as well as full-color illustrations of naked people.

“There is some really great literature that I just listed, that kids are going to miss out on the opportunity to learn,” Sen. Christine Marsh, D-Phoenix said after listing classic books like “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The Kite Runner.”

Hoffman questioned if the books would be in the curriculum, stating that as a graduate of the Arizona school system he did not read many of the books Marsh had listed and if they would have time to read that many books in a school year.

When Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers, R-Mesa, criticized the book in 2019, he did not present proof that the book was in circulation at any Arizona schools. It’s so often the subject of attacks that the book’s author, Robie Harris, sits on the board of the National Coalition Against Censorship. And the Phoenix New Times reported in 2019 that there was no evidence the book was being used anywhere in the state.

Bowers pointed to the book when attacking comprehensive sex education. Other elected officials have called for the banning of the book, as well.

Geoff Esposito, of the Arizona Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, said that if the bill were to pass it would also be deemed unconstitutional because it imposes differing restrictions on books due to their content, with the legislature acting as a “censor.”

The bill passed along party lines and will head to the full Senate. It has already passed out of the full House, also along party lines.

The images Hoffman presented are the same as those used by the Christian advocacy group Family Watch International, which opposes homosexuality and sex education, and its affiliate, the Protect Arizona Children Coalition, to rally against comprehensive sex education. Both groups were present at the committee and the Protect Arizona Children Coalition spoke in favor of the bill.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated Family Watch International as a hate group due to its vehemently anti-LGBT views.


Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

White nationalism began to take a foothold in the mainstream in 2021 -- and Arizona helped

A newly released report by the Southern Poverty Law Center details extremism in 2021 — and how elected officials like U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar helped white nationalists and hate groups move their views into the mainstream.
The SPLC’s Year in Hate and Extremism report details the number of hate groups across the country, how extremist groups are operating across the country and what rhetoric they are spreading.

“We are seeing other signs that dangerous white supremacist ideas are getting a toehold in the mainstream,” Cassie Miller, a senior research analyst at the SPLC, told reporters in a briefing on the report.

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Miller mentioned how Fox News host Tucker Carlson promoted the “Great Replacement” theory. The idea, which is popular among white supremacists and has inspired real world violence, holds that white Americans are being replaced by immigrants and other minority groups. It has been seized upon by extremist groups like the American Identity Movement and Generation Identity.

The racist narrative has also been pushed by Arizona politicians, including Flagstaff Republican Wendy Rogers, who has become a hero to white nationalists and was censured by the state Senate this month after she spoke to a white nationalist conference in February.

Both Gosar and Rogers have cozied up to a group of white nationalists known as “groypers”, who strive for their ideas to become a part of the Republican mainstream. In 2021, Gosar was the first elected official to speak at the America First Political Action Conference. This year, the conference saw speeches by Gosar, Rogers and U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

The event, known as AFPAC and meant to be an alternative to the mainstream conservative CPAC conference, is hosted by white nationalist Nick Fuentes.

“Wow, what a group,” Gosar told the crowd in 2021 in Orlando, Fla., launching into a speech in which he railed against the “deep state,” talked about the importance of building an impenetrable wall along America’s southern border and how “cancel culture” is a greater concern than the climate crisis.

Gosar would later try to distance himself from Fuentes saying he denounces “white racism” but he has continued to be close to extremists including amplifying them on social media. On his Instagram account, Gosar has shared pictures of himself with a number of groypers.

Groypers are largely followers of Fuentes and use online harassment techniques as well as in-person trolling — but aimed at Republicans and other conservatives, with the goal of forcing them further to the right.

The SPLC report noted that the number of hate groups declined in recent years, but researchers noted that this could likely be due to this mainstreaming of extremist views. Essentially, they said, that means members of hate groups can function within existing structures without creating new organizations.

Arizona has a total of 42 antigovernment and hate groups the SPLC identified, including three Neo-Nazi groups and three white nationalist groups.

Last year, members of the Neo-Nazi Nationalist Socialist Movement rallied in Phoenix, and the group’s regional director is followed by Rogers on Twitter.

Gosar, whose use of social media got him in trouble, has a history of posting far-right memes on Twitter, some that he even swiftly deleted last year that had ties to Neo-Nazis.

Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has condemned Gosar and Greene for their attendance and Rogers has been censured.

However, Wednesday morning Gosar posted on alternative social media site Gab, who’s CEO also appeared at AFPAC, that “cancel culture has limitations” and he and Greene were unrepentant.

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Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

Trump-loving lawmaker refuses to condemn white nationalist leader after GOP state senator challenges her

A day after the Arizona Senate voted to censure Flagstaff Republican Wendy Rogers for comments she made at a white nationalist conference and a string of inflammatory social media posts, another one of her colleagues challenged her to condemn those she had praised in a fiery speech on the Senate floor.

“I contend that this is unbecoming rhetoric, it is inappropriate rhetoric,” Sen. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, said on the Senate floor Wednesday.

Townsend on Wednesday told senators that she wanted Rogers to condemn white nationalist Nick Fuentes, who’s conference, the America First Political Action Conference, Rogers had spoken at the week prior.

Rogers addressed the AFPAC crowd remotely, effusively praising Fuentes, who she said had been “de-platformed everywhere” because he says things that upset “the media and the far left.”

Fuentes, an advocate of turning America into a nation only for white Christians, is one of the leaders of the so-called “groypers” — along with the founder of American Identity Movement, a white nationalist group formerly known as Identity Ervopa — and Rogers is one of its emerging icons. The groyper movement is a collection of white nationalists who seek to normalize racism and make it a part of mainstream conservative political ideology.

He is an open racist, a Holocaust denier and has boasted about being antisemitic.

Townsend was absent for the censure vote on Tuesday because of a medical issue with her daughter. The Apache Junction Republican said that she would have likely voted in favor of the censure — unless Rogers chose to denounce Fuentes. She said she believed that Rogers did not hold the same antisemitic and hateful views but was supporting Fuentes for reasons of “free speech.”

“I’m hoping she doesn’t agree with them,” Townsend said. “Let the record show that, if the senator is willing to apologize for a misunderstanding and denounce this, then my vote would have been red in the name of free speech.”

Rogers did not denounce Fuentes on the floor of the Senate.

“I don’t agree with guilt by association,” Rogers said in response to Townsend’s comments. “I love my fellow man, I love all people from all groups.”

Rogers also claimed that the censure was her words being taken out of context and an issue of free speech.

“I reiterate, this is about free speech. And if one senator can put words in my mouth to cause a censure, then all of us would qualify for a censure at some point in the future,” Rogers said.

The day she appeared at AFPAC, Rogers shared a photoshopped illustration of herself, Fuentes and Gab CEO Andrew Torba behind a dead rhino emblazoned with both the CPAC logo (referring to the Conservative Political Action Conference letters, which AFPAC was created to counter) and a Star of David.

Rogers also posted a number of claims about George Soros and the Rothschilds, including one post claiming that they both control the banks, an antisemitic conspiracy theory which dates back to the mid-19th century. The same conspiracy theory was later amplified by Hitler’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, in 1940.

Rogers and Townsend have been close political allies who late last year found themselves drawn into the same legislative district, despite living hundreds of miles apart. Rather than face off in 2022, Townsend opted to declare her candidacy for a southern Arizona congressional district — that she doesn’t live in — and Rogers swiftly endorsed her.

In a text exchange with the Arizona Mirror, Townsend said she would not be reconsidering her campaign plans and intended to continue her run for Congress.

The censure has become a point of pride for Rogers, who shared artwork Wednesday afternoon by a groyper artist depicting Rogers smiling with a medal and the vote for her censure displayed behind her.

Shortly after the discussion on the Senate floor, Rogers sent out a fundraising email about the censure. Titled “We don’t like your mean tweets,” Rogers says in the email that the “uniparty” is attempting to silence her.

“It’s time to say enough is enough,” Townsend said in a separate Senate floor speech about the fundraising email. “I don’t appreciate getting emails in my email box accusing me of things that I am not guilty of so that somebody can fill their coffers and pay their nephew and buy somebody a new car.”

Rogers’ nephew, Spence Rogers, runs a Florida-based political consulting firm called Go Right Strategies. Rogers paid the company $408,000 in 2021.

The Arizona Republic reported Wednesday that Senate GOP leaders were mulling stripping Rogers of her committee assignments because of she was attacking her fellow senators to raise campaign money.

Before her floor speech Wednesday, Townsend used social media to denounce Fuentes, and called on Rogers to do the same. But her post elicited criticism from far-right users, who accused her of not supporting freedom of speech by exercising her right to speak out against Fuentes.

“I received ugly blowback from people on my side,” Townsend said. “Like being in a piranha tank — but I’m not afraid of the piranha tank anymore.”

Townsend herself is no stranger to controversy. In 2019, Townsend toured the border with the extremist group AZ Patriots whose leader walked around the Arizona State Capitol with a “kekistan” flag, a white nationalist symbol used to troll liberal events.

And last year, Townsend compared vaccine supporters to Nazis and sharing an image of needles in the shape of a swastika on social media. When the Anti-Defamation League sharply criticized her rhetoric, Townsend rebuked the 108-year-old Jewish organization. “Learn your history,” she retorted.

Jeremy Duda contributed to this report.


Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

Arizona Republican refuses to condemn white nationalist leader after GOP senator challenges her

A day after the Arizona Senate voted to censure Flagstaff Republican Wendy Rogers for comments she made at a white nationalist conference and a string of inflammatory social media posts, another one of her colleagues challenged her to condemn those she had praised in a fiery speech on the Senate floor.
“I contend that this is unbecoming rhetoric, it is inappropriate rhetoric,” Sen. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, said on the Senate floor Wednesday.

Townsend on Wednesday told senators that she wanted Rogers to condemn white nationalist Nick Fuentes, who’s conference, the America First Political Action Conference, Rogers had spoken at the week prior.

Rogers addressed the AFPAC crowd remotely, effusively praising Fuentes, who she said had been “de-platformed everywhere” because he says things that upset “the media and the far left.”

RELATED: 'Wendy Rogers, you're a joke!' Election worker shouts down pro-Trump lawmaker at Arizona hearing

Fuentes, an advocate of turning America into a nation only for white Christians, is one of the leaders of the so-called “groypers” — along with the founder of American Identity Movement, a white nationalist group formerly known as Identity Ervopa — and Rogers is one of its emerging icons. The groyper movement is a collection of white nationalists who seek to normalize racism and make it a part of mainstream conservative political ideology.

He is an open racist, a Holocaust denier and has boasted about being antisemitic.

Townsend was absent for the censure vote on Tuesday because of a medical issue with her daughter. The Apache Junction Republican said that she would have likely voted in favor of the censure — unless Rogers chose to denounce Fuentes. She said she believed that Rogers did not hold the same antisemitic and hateful views but was supporting Fuentes for reasons of “free speech.”

“I’m hoping she doesn’t agree with them,” Townsend said. “Let the record show that, if the senator is willing to apologize for a misunderstanding and denounce this, then my vote would have been red in the name of free speech.”

RELATED: Trump-endorsed AZ lawmaker says European Union is new 'Third Reich' after Ukraine defense

Rogers did not denounce Fuentes on the floor of the Senate.

“I don’t agree with guilt by association,” Rogers said in response to Townsend’s comments. “I love my fellow man, I love all people from all groups.”

Rogers also claimed that the censure was her words being taken out of context and an issue of free speech.

“I reiterate, this is about free speech. And if one senator can put words in my mouth to cause a censure, then all of us would qualify for a censure at some point in the future,” Rogers said.

The day she appeared at AFPAC, Rogers shared a photoshopped illustration of herself, Fuentes and Gab CEO Andrew Torba behind a dead rhino emblazoned with both the CPAC logo (referring to the Conservative Political Action Conference letters, which AFPAC was created to counter) and a Star of David.

Rogers also posted a number of claims about George Soros and the Rothschilds, including one post claiming that they both control the banks, an antisemitic conspiracy theory which dates back to the mid-19th century. The same conspiracy theory was later amplified by Hitler’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, in 1940.

Rogers and Townsend have been close political allies who late last year found themselves drawn into the same legislative district, despite living hundreds of miles apart. Rather than face off in 2022, Townsend opted to declare her candidacy for a southern Arizona congressional district — that she doesn’t live in — and Rogers swiftly endorsed her.

In a text exchange with the Arizona Mirror, Townsend said she would not be reconsidering her campaign plans and intended to continue her run for Congress.

The censure has become a point of pride for Rogers, who shared artwork Wednesday afternoon by a groyper artist depicting Rogers smiling with a medal and the vote for her censure displayed behind her.

RELATED: Pro-Trump Arizona lawmaker: 'I stand with Jesus, Robert E. Lee and the Cleveland Indians'

Shortly after the discussion on the Senate floor, Rogers sent out a fundraising email about the censure. Titled “We don’t like your mean tweets,” Rogers says in the email that the “uniparty” is attempting to silence her.

“It’s time to say enough is enough,” Townsend said in a separate Senate floor speech about the fundraising email. “I don’t appreciate getting emails in my email box accusing me of things that I am not guilty of so that somebody can fill their coffers and pay their nephew and buy somebody a new car.”

Rogers’ nephew, Spence Rogers, runs a Florida-based political consulting firm called Go Right Strategies. Rogers paid the company $408,000 in 2021.

The Arizona Republic reported Wednesday that Senate GOP leaders were mulling stripping Rogers of her committee assignments because of she was attacking her fellow senators to raise campaign money.

Before her floor speech Wednesday, Townsend used social media to denounce Fuentes, and called on Rogers to do the same. But her post elicited criticism from far-right users, who accused her of not supporting freedom of speech by exercising her right to speak out against Fuentes.

“I received ugly blowback from people on my side,” Townsend said. “Like being in a piranha tank — but I’m not afraid of the piranha tank anymore.”

Townsend herself is no stranger to controversy. In 2019, Townsend toured the border with the extremist group AZ Patriots whose leader walked around the Arizona State Capitol with a “kekistan” flag, a white nationalist symbol used to troll liberal events.

And last year, Townsend compared vaccine supporters to Nazis and sharing an image of needles in the shape of a swastika on social media. When the Anti-Defamation League sharply criticized her rhetoric, Townsend rebuked the 108-year-old Jewish organization. “Learn your history,” she retorted.

Jeremy Duda contributed to this report.

***UPDATED: This story has been updated to include additional information about potential further punishment of Rogers.

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Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

Arizona Republicans push bill to restrict who can film cops and when

The people who took video of police killing George Floyd and Eric Garner would have faced criminal charges in Arizona under legislation that won approval in the state House of Representatives with only Republican support.

A bill proposed by Fountain Hills Republican Rep. John Kavanagh, who spent decades as a police officer for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, would make it unlawful for someone to film police from up to 15 feet away while officers are engaged in “law enforcement activity.”

Constitutional experts and civil rights advocates say the proposed law would be blatantly unconstitutional.

“Courts have upheld that people have a constitutional right to videotape police activity, and now to say that it is illegal is just idiotic,” Dan Barr, an attorney who specializes in media and First Amendment cases, previously told the Arizona Mirror. “This would make the recording of the murder of George Floyd illegal.”

House Bill 2319 says that anyone who police order to stop filming but continues to do so would face a class 3 misdemeanor and up to 30 days in jail.

The bill passed out of the Arizona House of Representatives Wednesday on a 31-28 vote, with Republicans supporting it and Democratic lawmakers in opposition.

An amendment added by the House Appropriations Committee allows people to film their own interactions with police, as long as they are “not interfering with lawful police actions, including searching handcuffing or administering a field sobriety test.”

The amendment also allows passengers in a vehicle to film as long as they don’t interfere with “lawful police actions.”

The amendment also limits what couldn’t be filmed from closer than 15 feet: questioning a suspicious person, conducting an arrest, issuing a summons or “enforcing the law,” and “handling an emotionally disbturbed or disorderly person who is exhibiting abnormal behavior.”

Kavanagh said he initially got the idea to run the bill because he had seen stories of “groups” of people going around filming police. He said the legislation didn’t originate with any police union or advocacy group, though he later told ABC15 the idea came from a Tucson cop.

He has said the bill is not unconstitutional because it only limits when police can be filmed instead of banning it entirely.

“It distracts the cop against the person they are making enforcement against,” Kavanagh has said of people videotaping law enforcement. “If I ban videotaping, then it would be unconstitutional.”

Filming of police has played an integral role in helping journalists and researchers learn the breadth of how law enforcement use “cover charges” to justify the use of excessive force.

The term is often used by defense attorneys to describe the charges used by police to cover up bad behavior or explain away the use of excessive force. In Chicago, it was found that two out of every three times the Chicago Police Department used force since 2004, they arrested the person on one of these types of charges. And a 2021 ProPublica investigation found in Jefferson Parish, La., 73% of the time someone was arrested on a “cover charge” alone, they were Black.

The bill now heads to the Senate.


Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.