insurrectionist update

Here’s where they’ve ended up, and what role they’ll take in shaping Arizona in 2023.

Two years ago, we published a series shining a light on 18 members of the Arizona Legislature who played a role in the movement to overthrow US democracy.

These elected officials helped shape the culture and heightened the tensions that led to the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, which led to five deaths, hundreds of arrests, and the second impeachment of former President Donald Trump.

Since then, these legislators introduced hundreds of bills that sought to limit access to voting, restrict the voice of the people, and even take away Arizonan’s ability to choose the US President.

Ran for Arizona Secretary of State and Lost: Mark Finchem, Shawnna Bolick

Finchem publicly advocated for the overturning of the US election and was one of the few Arizona lawmakers actually in Washington, DC, on the day of the Jan. 6 insurrection. 

He repeatedly argued that the US Constitution gives lawmakers the power to determine who gets the state’s electoral votes.

After the legislature ignored the efforts of Finchem and others to call a hearing on the election, Finchem organized an unofficial November daylong hearing at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Phoenix where Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis continuously made unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud in Arizona’s election.

Finchem is the only known Arizona state legislator present at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Bolick 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.”

Bolick was the sponsor of a bill that would have given the state legislature the authority over the selection of presidential electors and to revoke the elector’s certification any time before the Presidential inauguration—essentially giving the state lawmaker the power to override election results. 

The bill was criticized for being an overreach of power, with then-Secretary of State Katie Hobbs calling the proposal “breathtaking.”

Did Not Seek Reelection: Brenda Barton

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.  

Ran for US Congress and Lost: Walt Blackman

Blackman signed on to a letter to Congress asking them to accept 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.”

Following the 2020 election, Blackman sent an email to constituents suggesting that the Arizona Legislature might step in to change the state’s 11 Electoral College votes to then-President Donald Trump despite Joe Biden’s win. 

“Under the U.S. Constitution, our Arizona court system has no authority to make any determinations about the manner the Presidential election shall be conducted. I will work with my legislative colleagues to ensure a fair and true outcome to this very contentious election and I stand ready to reconvene the House and Senate to do the people’s work,” Blackman wrote, repeating unsubstantiated claims about the election results.

Following the insurrection, Blackman and other legislators faced calls to ban them from the House and Senate.

In the 2021 legislative session, Black is the sponsor of a bill that would require voters to present a photo ID to be placed on the permanent absentee voting list. 

Resigned From Legislature, Now Sells Real Estate: Bret Roberts

Roberts was a fixture at a November daylong hearing at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Phoenix as Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani, and Jenna Ellis continuously made unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud in Arizona’s election.

He repeatedly called the results of the election into question on social media. 

Roberts signed on to a letter to Congress asking lawmakers to accept 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.”In the weeks since, Roberts signed onto a number of bills that could impact voting in Arizona, including one bill that aims to prohibit same-day voter registration and another that would make automatic voter registration illegal.

In 2021, Roberts resigned from the Legislature, without giving a reason for his departure. He has since moved to South Carolina, where he works in real estate.

Lost Reelection in 2020, Won in 2022: Anthony Kern

Similar to Trump, Kern lost his election in 2020. This left him unable to join fellow Republicans in the legislature in their efforts to overturn the election results, and subsequently introduce legislation to limit the power of voters in elections.

He was, however, filmed at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, and has repeatedly called for Trump to be reinstated as US President.

Kern won his election bid in 2022, and will be a member of the Arizona Legislature again beginning January 2023.

Lost Reelection to State Legislature in 2022

Four legislators highlighted in our “Losing Arizona” series ran for reelection and lost. John Fillmore, Judy Burges, Kelly Townsend, and Nancy Barto all failed to win over voters in 2022, and will not serve in the Arizona Legislature for the next two years.

Won Reelection to State Legislature in 2022

Half of the legislators highlighted in our series ran for reelection and won. These legislators are:

David Cook, Globe
Jake Hoffman, Queen Creek
Kevin Payne, Peoria
Leo Biasiucci, Lake Havasu City
Travis Grantham, Gilbert
Wendy Rogers, Flagstaff
David Gowan, Sierra Vista
Sonny Borrelli, Lake Havasu City
Warren Petersen, Gilbert

All nine legislators signed on to a letter to Congress asking lawmakers to accept 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.”

Many of the above-named backed bills that would make voting harder for Arizonans, including one that would make it a felony to send an absentee ballot to anyone not on the Permanent Early Voting List. Some even supported proposal to end early voting in Arizona altogether.

Previous reporting by The Copper Courier Editor Bree Burkitt contributed to this story.

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