Losing Arizona: Is Rep. Brenda Barton an Insurrectionist?

Morgaine Ford-Workman/The Copper Courier

By Bree Burkitt

February 24, 2021

This is part of a series from The Copper Courier highlighting the Arizona legislators involved in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection or the events leading up to it. Read the rest here.

Rep. Brenda Barton was born in Safford, Arizona. She worked in municipal accounting and materials management for the city before running to represent District 6—which spans the northeastern portion of Maricopa County and into parts of Gila, Navajo, and Coconino counties—in Arizona’s House of Representatives in 2010. She was in office in 2018 when she was unable to run for re-election due to term limits. She then ran again in 2020, winning her seat. 

Contribution to the Insurrection

Barton signed a letter to then-Vice President Mike Pence asking him not to certify election results.

She also signed on to a letter to Congress asking them to accept the 11 “alternate” electoral votes for Trump or to have all of the state’s electoral votes “nullified completely” until a full forensic audit can be conducted.  

This legislative session, Barton is the sponsor of a bill that would require voters to present a photo ID to be placed on the permanent absentee voting list.

How You May Have Heard of Them

Denzel Boyd/The Copper Courier

Barton has been open about her participation in the anti-government, land-rights-focused Sagebrush rebellion during the mid-1990s. She’s also stated she was an elected official in the far-right advocacy group known as People for the West!, which promoted private property rights and opposed federal intervention in western lands. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the organization as a “fertile recruitment ground for the Patriot movement and efforts to organize militias.” The group disbanded in 2000.

Frustrated by the economic impact on her district during the 2013 government shutdown, Barton compared then-President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler in a Facebook post. She urged county sheriffs to revoke authority from the National Park Service “thugs” enforcing the federal shutdown on national park lands, including Grand Canyon National Park within her district, while invoking a German term associated with Adolf Hitler.

“Someone is paying the National Park Service thugs overtime for their efforts to carry out the order of De Fuhrer… where are our Constitutional Sheriffs who can revoke the Park Service Rangers authority to arrest??? Do we have any Sheriffs with a pair?” she wrote.

Throughout the years, Barton has been behind numerous bills that would hand federal lands over to the states, which would have serious repercussions for the environment and wildlife. She defended the bills, saying that Arizona needs the land for “funding for our schools and our counties, all things that are important to the state.” The Phoenix New Times reported that Barton told an Arizona Senate Committee on Rural Affairs and Environment that “the system we have in Arizona can only create so much money, and because the majority of our state is locked up in different ownership, it becomes difficult for us to realize money off those lands.” 

Barton is among the slew of Arizona Republicans that introduced a controversial bill in January that would force county prosecutors to file homicide charges against women who receive abortions and the doctor who performed the procedure. 

She is up for re-election in 2022.

Barton isn’t alone. See the others who played a role in the insurrection.




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