Above Image: From Politico, ‘Down the rabbit hole’: Arizona GOP goes full fringe.

The Arizona Mirror reports, A dozen Arizona GOP lawmakers follow at least 1 far-right Facebook group:

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More than 1 in 5 Republican state lawmakers across the country have joined at least one far-right Facebook group, according to a new report. In Arizona, 12 have done so — about 25% of the state’s GOP legislators.

Together the lawmakers sponsored 963 bills during the most recent legislative sessions, said the group that wrote the report, which describes the far-right efforts as anti-human rights.

The Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, a think tank that defends democracy and human rights, identified 875 lawmakers who have joined at least one of 789 Facebook groups, including white nationalist groups, groups tied to QAnon, groups that spout conspiracy theories about COVID-19, and others that promote former president Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” that voter fraud cost him the 2020 election.

The institute’s report, titled Breaching the Mainstream, lists all of the legislators identified as being part of far-right Facebook groups and detailed their legislative impact.

Chapter Four of the report describes:

The legislators described in this report have been members of 789 different far-right Facebook groups. As discussed in detail in the Categories section, these groups fall into thirteen distinct far-right categories and fourteen subcategories, ranging from militia and sovereign citizen groups, antisemitic conspiracy groups, militant COVID Denial groups, Stop the Steal groups, and more.

These 789 groups were joined 2,115 times by the 875 legislators identified in this report, an average of 2.4 groups per legislator. Some legislators are members of as many as 24 different groups. Many of these far-right groups are “private” groups, meaning that non-members can’t see the content or group members. Absent the work of the IREHR researchers, much of this information would remain hidden.

Of the 2,115 far-right groups joined, state legislators used their personal Facebook accounts to join 2,069 groups, campaign accounts to join 36 groups, and “official” accounts to join ten groups.

The groups described in this report, on the whole, exhibit two broad ideological features that define much of the modern anti-democratic far-right in the United States: they are animated by a Middle American nationalism and far-right political ideologies and goals.

Middle American Nationalism is a set of ideas descended from Middle American Radicalism (MAR), first described by sociologist Donald L. Warren in his 1976 book “The Radical Center.” It focused on a distinct constituency Warren found in the George Wallace campaigns. Warren defined this MAR ideology as individuals who viewed themselves squeezed from two directions: one, economic and political elites whose influence and access to wealth favors give them an advantage; two, people of color and poor people.

In addition to finding evidence of the MAR constituency as a part of the George Wallace voter base, Warren tracked its involvement in Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan’s 1992 campaigns.

In “Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream,” IREHR founder Leonard Zeskind explored the transformation from Middle American Radicalism to the emergence of Middle American Nationalism.

Today variations on the Middle American Nationalist ideology can be seen in organizations and movements ranging from the Tea Party, to far-right militias, to racist groups like the Proud Boys, to white nationalists.

Note: The report includes a link to reporting from Pro Publica on 48 Republican state and local officials who are members of the domestic terrorist organization The Oath Keepers. Oath Keepers in the State House: How a Militia Movement Took Root in the Republican Mainstream:

Among the current officeholders on the list is Arizona state Rep. Mark Finchem, who was already publicly identified with the Oath Keepers. Finchem was outside the Capitol on Jan. 6 but has said he did not enter the building or engage in violence, and he has disputed the characterization of the Oath Keepers as an anti-government group. He is currently running to be Arizona’s top elections official, and he won former President Donald Trump’s endorsement in September.

Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers announced her membership a few years ago. She responded to Trump’s 2020 loss by encouraging people to buy ammo and recently demanded to “decertify” the election based on the GOP’s “audit” of Maricopa County ballots, even though the partisan review confirmed President Joe Biden’s win.

“We knew we had a problem on our hands, but we hadn’t been able to quantify the depths of it,” said Devin Burghart, president and executive director of the institute. “This was a first attempt on our part to wrap our heads around it, and it was pretty striking in terms of the various pipelines that have opened up to pump disinformation and far-right ideas into legislatures.”

One of the state legislators profiled by IREHR [in Chapter Three] was Arizona state Sen. Kelly Townsend, a Republican from Apache Junction who was a tea party leader before being elected to the legislature in 2012. Townsend, the researchers wrote, has “moved from anti-abortion and Tea Party politics to far-right paramilitary militia groups and efforts to rewrite the U.S. Constitution in the far-right’s image.”

Townsend has been a vocal advocate of the baseless allegations that the 2020 election was rigged against Trump, and has promoted drastic new restrictions on voting. And she has faced criticism last year from the Anti-Defamation League for comparing COVID-19 vaccine advocates to Nazis and tweeting an image of a swastika made from syringes.

Chapter Two of the IREHR report begins with a feature on Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers:

On May 4, 2022, Arizona State Senator Wendy Rogers traveled nearly 900 miles to fire up a crowd of activists in Meridian, Idaho. State legislators rarely travel cross-country to speak at rallies, but Rogers is part of a nationwide election denial effort to overturn the 2020 election. “They stole the election,” she declared.

She told the crowd about alleged voter fraud in her home state and Idaho. She demanded, “We can never give up. This is our country, and we’re going to take it back! And we will not move on to 2022 until we find the truth about 2020.”

Rogers was not alone in pushing election denial themes. Idaho State Rep. Dorothy Moon followed with announcements of the showing of election conspiracy documentaries across the state. Rep. Moon called Rogers her “new best friend” and said, “We are sisters, sisters of the West.” (Moon is a member of six different far-right groups documented in this report, including COVID Denial and militia groups).

On top of Sen. Rogers’ “Stop the Steal” election-denial efforts, she gained recent national notoriety for embracing white nationalist figures online and speaking at the recent white nationalist AFPAC III conference in Orlando, Florida. Like Sen. Rogers, Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin also spoke to the Florida white nationalist gathering and was the featured speaker of the Idaho event.

[L]ike Sen. Rogers and Lt. Gov. McGeachin, other speakers or special guests at that white nationalist conference found their way onto the Idaho stage, including Michelle Malkin and Stew Peters.

[At] the end of the rally, Lt. Gov. McGeachin returned to the stage to support Todd Engel, previously sentenced to 14 years in prison for his role in the 2014 Cliven Bundy Bunkerville standoff.

The Meridian rally was a perfect real-world reflection of the symbiotic relationship between far-right activists and a shocking number of state legislators. Sen. Rogers and Rep. Moon are just two of the 875 legislators identified by the IREHR research team who joined far-right Facebook groups.

Note: This loon Lt. Gov. McGeachin just got crushed in her bid to unseat Idaho’s Republican Governor Brad Little. Idaho Gov. Brad Little wins GOP gubernatorial primary. In an eight candidate primary, Little won 52.8% of the vote to McGeachin’s 32.2%. This insurrectionist McGeachin will probably wind up with a gig on Fox News after her term ends.

The Arizona Mirror continues:

The legislators who have joined far-right groups made up 21.74% of all Republican legislators and 0.09% of all Democratic state legislators in the 2021 and 2022 legislative sessions, according to the report.

More than 75% of the legislators in far-right Facebook groups identify as male, while 24.45% identify as female. Nationally, 31.2% of all legislative seats are currently held by women.

While the legislators in far-right groups come from all 50 states, some states are represented more than others. The representation is highest in New Hampshire (62), followed by Pennsylvania (40), Minnesota (39), Missouri (36), Arkansas (34), Montana (34), Maine (34), Georgia (32), Washington (30) and Maryland (27), according to the report.

The state lawmakers are also spread out in all regions of the country. Currently, 221 of them represent districts in the Midwest, 191 in the Northeast, 264 in the South and 200 in the West.

“It’s a nationwide phenomenon,” Burghart said. “Far too often, people think of this activity as being relegated to the deep South or the Pacific Northwest, but there are legislators in all 50 states who have joined these different far-right Facebook groups.”

Many of the legislators identified have been at the forefront of pushing anti-democracy and anti-human rights bills, according to the report.

The lawmakers identified have supported far-right legislation including “Don’t say gay” proposals and bills targeting the teaching of critical race theory in schools. They’ve proposed bills attacking women’s reproductive rights, immigrants and the LGBTQIA community, the report noted.

“There was a very high level of support and sponsorship of bills coming from this cluster of legislators that we’d identified,” Burghart said.

The Arizona Mirror for some reason did not include this link to Appendix A of the report with a searchable data base of the state and local officials and their connections to right-wing Facebook groups. Here is the Arizona list:

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Note: Sen. Wendy Rogers and Rep. Mark Finchem are self-described members of the Oath Keepers and other far-right organizations.

See: Payson Roundup, Senate candidate claims membership in controversial militia: “State Senate candidate Wendy Rogers makes no apologies about being a “charter member” of Oath Keepers, a militia-like organization that claims 25,000 members and remains at the forefront of a growing militia movement in the U.S.”

See: Phoenix New Times, From Charlottesville to Oath Keepers, Rep. Mark Finchem Is a Fringe Lawmaker: “During his first campaign for the House of Representatives in 2014, Finchem told a local news outlet in a candidate Q&A that he is “an Oath Keeper committed to the exercise of limited, constitutional governance.””

See: Phoenix New Times, Rep. Mark Finchem Worked With Anti-Government Extremists, Emails Show: State Representative Mark Finchem served as “Arizona Coordinator” for the Coalition of Western States (COWS), a group that supported the infamous armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in 2016.

See: The Arizona Mirror, Mark Finchem was much closer to the Jan. 6 insurrection than he claimed: “Newly discovered footage taken during the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot shows Arizona GOP legislator Mark Finchem was much closer to the day’s violence than he has previously claimed.”

Reps. Mark Finchem and Leo Biasiucci, and Sens. Wendy Rogers and Sonny Borrelli all spoke at a QAnon convention in Las Vegas last October. Az GOP legislators spoke at QAnon convention full of conspiracies and hate.

“Q” himself is running for Congress in Arizona. Ron Watkins, QAnon Figurehead, Will Be on the Ballot in Arizona.

I have said many times before that the “Party of Lincoln” is long since dead, it’s dead carcass has been hollowed out by the fringe group parasites that invaded the host over the years. The Republican Party now represents the greatest national security threat to the survival of American democracy.

“The analogy would be in the same way that fire purifies the forest, it needs to be burned to the ground and fundamentally repudiated,” warns Steve Schmidt, a Republican-turned-independent political strategist.

If you truly believe in American democracy, every one of the Republicans listed above, and more, needs to be defeated and repudiated in this year’s elections.




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