AP Photo/Steve Helber, File FILE - Rep. Mark Finchem, of Arizona, gestures as he speaks during an election rally in Richmond, Va., on Oct. 13, 2021. In the year since the Jan. 6 riot, Donald Trump-aligned Republicans have worked to clear the path for next time. In battleground states and beyond, Republicans are systematically taking hold of the once overlooked machinery of elections, weakening or replacing the checks in place to prevent partisan meddling with results.
AP Photo/Steve Helber, File

Would you allow an arsonist to run the fire department? Most people probably wouldn’t, but Mark Finchem is hoping that you would. 

Finchem, a state representative from Oro Valley who has embraced former President Donald Trump’s conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, appeared at a rally held by Trump in Florence on Saturday, where he asked attendees to elect him as Arizona’s next secretary of state—a role that would allow him to oversee Arizona’s elections.

But in his proposal, Finchem advocated for the state legislature to take away Arizona voters’ ability to decide who represents them entirely, and instead allow for elected officials to choose who will fill elected positions in government. 

Finchem even went so far as to espouse a debunked theory that the legislature could decertify the 2020 election results and deliver Arizona’s electoral votes to Trump.

“I look forward to the day when we set aside an irredeemably flawed election—that’s the election of 2020,” Finchem said. “It is time for us, the Arizona Legislature, to move those counties who are irredeemably compromised into the decertified section.”

In reality, Trump lost Arizona in 2020—even the Republican-backed audit said so. That reality has not stopped Finchem from sowing distrust in Arizona’s election system. If you think that’s the only controversial thing about Finchem, you’d be mistaken:

  • Finchem is a member of multiple extremist groups, including The Oath Keepers, a group whose founder called former Sen. John McCain a traitor who “should be hung by the neck until dead.” That founder, Stewart Rhodes, was arrested this week on charges of seditious conspiracy for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the US Capitol.
  • Finchem, it’s worth nothing, was also present at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, though he says he did not go inside the building.
  • Fiinchem denied any far-right involvement in the deadly 2017 Neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia and instead claimed it was a “Deep State PsyOp” to help Democrats. 
  • He has embraced QAnon and spread deranged conspiracy theories about elected officials being involved in pedophile networks.

Finchem is the only known Arizona state legislator present at the Capitol on Jan. 6, and his business entity received $6,000 from Trump for assisting in efforts to overturn Arizona’s election results. 

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