Last week, the Arizona Senate approved the Senate Ethics Committee investigating Sen. Wendy Rogers (R-Flagstaff), a white Christian Natonalist and QAnon cult member who has a disturbing history of outlandish and racist comments on social media, for her most recent posting. The Senate Ethics Committee is where investigations go to die. The whole point of this is to bury taking any disciplinary action against Sen. Wendy Rogers.
Arizona lawmaker Wendy Rogers, a Republican who has promoted the same Great Replacement conspiracy theory that was allegedly the motive for today's racist massacre in Buffalo, just posted this on the alt social media site Gab. pic.twitter.com/zyAEfaaGoe
— Nick Martin (@nickmartin) May 15, 2022
GOP legislators rejected an attempt by Senate Democrats to immediately expel Rogers for her most recent signaling to white Christian Nationalists on social media after a self-identified white supremacist was responsible for the worst mass shooting in the U.S. this year in Buffalo, New York last Sunday. Republicans alternative argued “due process!” or “let the voters decide” to resist expulsion of Rogers.
Note: Wendy Rogers was censured by her Senate colleagues earlier this year for threatening them. Senate votes to censure Wendy Rogers for threatening her colleagues. “The censure, which has no practical effect, was for comments calling for people she perceived as enemies to be hanged from gallows, and for social media postings Rogers made threatening to “personally destroy” fellow Republicans who sought to punish her.”
As their spirit animal Sarah Palin would say, Senate Republicans were guilty of “more of this vanilla milquetoast namby-pamby wussy-pussy stuff” when “the censure resolution was silent on her embrace of white nationalists and a string of antisemitic and racist things she had posted online in recent days.”
Apparenlty that racist shit is perfectly OK with her GQP Senate colleagues. That’s the real reason why they did not expel Rogers for her latest offense last week. Her defense would have been that all of her GQP colleagues are guilty of doing the same thing to varying degrees.
The Arizona Mirror reported, Wendy Rogers will face an investigation after claiming the Buffalo mass shooting was done by the ‘feds,’ not a heavily armed racist (excerpt):
The Senate voted 24-3 to approve an investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee. Democrats voted for the investigation, though some lamented that the committee has a habit of sweeping issues under the rug.
Sen. Martin Quezada said the Ethics Committee rarely takes investigations past the initial stages, and no members of the chamber are ever held accountable.
That sentiment was shared by Sen. Victoria Steele, who is one of two Democrats on the ethics panel. She swatted aside GOP claims that Rogers needed “due process,” noting that Rogers was previously censured and has already faced one ethics investigation, but has not improved her behavior.
How many chances does she get? One warning is enough.
“What happened over this weekend was not doing better. What happened over this weekend was an embarrassment to all of the good people who serve in this Senate – who have ever served in this body,” Steele said. “Spewing hate and furthering racist comments is not what we should be here for. My fear with this vote to move to the Ethics Committee is that it’s been my experience nothing happens — and this will be no different.”
Steele added that this vote is “too little too late,” but it was her only option at this point and she worries that everything will be prolonged to after the election where Rogers could likely win and be back in the chamber for a second term unscathed.
In a separate motion, Democrats sought to expel Rogers. Had it succeeded, it would have been only the fifth expulsion in state history; but with three senators absent, it was doomed to fail, and subsequently did on an 11-15 vote.
[W]hile Monday’s vote to investigate Rogers had overwhelming support, many Republicans who voted to launch the investigation said they didn’t know what Rogers had posted online or what it meant. Similar reasoning was used to justify voting against immediately expelling her.
On Monday the Arizona Senate voted to initiate a Senate Ethics investigation into @WendyRogersAZ for her "fed boy summer" post. Some of her colleagues stated they didn't know what it meant. Over on Telegram, her followers seemed to have gotten the message, a 🧵 CW hate speech
— Jerod MacDonald-Evoy (@JerodMacEvoy) May 18, 2022
“It’s obnoxious,” Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita said of the motion to expel. “The voters can make a choice, the election is not far away.”
Note: It was Michelle Ugenti-Rita when she was in the House who brought the ethics complaint that led to Rep. Don Shooter being expelled. Arizona House expels Rep. Don Shooter, citing ‘dishonorable’ pattern of workplace harassment.
In the defamation lawsuit and counter-lawsuit between Ugenti-Rita and former Rep. Don Shooter which followed, a deposition of a female lobbyist by Independent investigators hired by the House, which was not included in the report that damned Shooter, became public and put Michelle Ugenti-Rita in a different light. Lobbyist: Ugenti-Rita sexually harassed her before Shooter expulsion: “The woman describes a pattern of harassment by Ugenti-Rita and her now-husband, former adviser to the governor Brian Townsend, over the summer of 2016 that led the lobbyist to believe the political power couple was trying to recruit her for a threesome.”
Sounds to me like Ugenti-Rita is still bitter about the whole affair.
Sen. J.D. Mesnard said he was unaware of the controversy that had occurred involving Rogers and had arrived on the floor not knowing why it had started late, only to learn that they’d be voting to expel a member.
“This would be one of the most historic moments in the Senate’s history if we did this,” Mesnard said.
Recent examples of expulsions or resignations came as the result of monthslong ethics investigations – both of which happened in the state House of Representatives.
Republican Rep. Don Shooter was expelled in 2018 after many women – including fellow lawmakers [Michelle Ugenti-Rita] – came forward accusing him of sexual harassment. And Republican David Stringer resigned in 2019 after it was revealed he had sex with young boys decades earlier while living in Maryland.
The only votes against the ethics investigation came from Rogers, Sen. Kelly Townsend and Sen. Warren Petersen. Townsend is running against Rogers in the Republican primary for District 7 after the pair were drawn into the same district during redistricting last year.
Petersen, on the other hand, said he was voting no for a lack of information on the entire situation. He was also one of three votes against Rogers’ censure in March –joining Rogers and Sen. Nancy Barto.
So this is where things stand. The Senate Ethics Committee knows that its job is to bury this investigation and to take no disciplinary action.
Not so fast.
In a rare editorial opinion, the Arizona Republic rejects Sen Michelle Ugenti-Rita’s “vanilla milquetoast namby-pamby wussy-pussy stuff” of “leave it to the voters,” and says Arizona Senate cannot leave Wendy Rogers’ fate to voters. Investigate and expel her:
It’s an unseemly duty for the Arizona Senate to investigate Sen. Wendy Rogers, R-Flagstaff, with the possible consequence of expelling her from office.
Such tasks should be approached with great deference to voters who chose her as their representative. We are nearing state elections that would make it the easiest of things to leave it to their verdict in the fall.
But Rogers is accused of disgracing the Senate and the state of Arizona with behavior that appears to have crossed a bright red line into misconduct.
Only hours after a white gunman fired upon mostly Black shoppers at a grocery store in Buffalo N.Y., killing 10 and wounding three, Rogers posted on the social media site Telegram, “Fed boy summer has started in Buffalo.”
Rogers implied the feds killed those people
The message seemed pretty clear: Rogers was accusing the federal government of running a false flag operation in Buffalo. Whether she meant it or not, her words implied that federal law officers had either falsely staged the event or killed those people in the grocery store.
Normally, you would give benefit of the doubt to a state leader who could have stumbled on her words. But Rogers has a history of mouthing conspiracy theories coiled tight with unalloyed bigotry.
In March, a large majority of her colleagues from both parties voted to censure her following her appearance at a white nationalist conference in Florida helmed by known Holocaust-denier Nick Fuentes. There she railed against those who would sell out America.
“If we try some of these high-level criminals, convict them, and use a newly built set of gallows, it’ll make an example for these traitors who have betrayed our country,” Rogers said. “They have yet to be justly punished for the crimes they have committed.”
She has previously made anti-Semitic posts
Later on social media, she attacked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, whose country was then under Russian invasion, calling him a “globalist puppet” for George Soros, the philanthropist and businessman. Both Zelenskyy and Soros are Jewish.
“I stand with the Christian [Nationalists] worldwide not the global bankers [code for international Jewish conspiracy] who are shoving godlessness and degeneracy in our face,” Rogers posted on Twitter. That remark is a common anti-Semitic trope, and if there were any doubt that’s how Rogers swings she also shared a picture on social media of herself next to a dead rhino branded with a Star of David.
The Senate is right to investigate Rogers, to give her due process. But if the facts hold up, and in this case they are simple and highly compelling, then she is unfit for office and to represent her district and the state of Arizona.
Senate must act on this despicable conduct
Those were real people who were gunned down in Buffalo, our fellow countrymen and women who left behind loved ones stricken with grief. To exploit their tragedy to push her crude conspiracies is so bereft of decency it can’t be tolerated.
The Arizona Senate needs to defend itself, to defend the institution from Rogers’ fevered mind. Her words echo the ravings of far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who tortured the grieving parents of Sandy Hook Elementary School by claiming that shooting was a false flag – that it never happened. Those parents sued Jones for defamation.
If Rogers cannot credibly defend her conduct, the Senate has to act and will need a super-majority. This can’t be left to voters. The state of Arizona through its elected representatives needs to say no to the vile conduct in its midst.
If the Arizona Senate is to enjoy any future respect, it has to stop Wendy Rogers right now. It has to prove to all Americans and especially our Jewish and African American brothers and sisters that Arizona will not give ground to such poisoned ideas.
While The Republic is absolutely correct, the editors are ignoring the GQP elephant in the room. Virtually every Republican running for office in Arizona (and elsewhere) is running on the “great replacement theory” – it is the core element of their anti-immigrant hysteria “white fright” 2022 midterm election strategy. They are all campaigning on the “brown hordes crossing the border” who will replace legacy white Christian Americans, and become “compliant” Democratic voters. White Christian Republicans will never be able to win another election. “You will be replaced.” This is amplified on Fox News 24 hours a day. This is white Christian Nationalism – fascism – call it by its proper name.
As Paul Waldman explains, After Buffalo massacre, Republicans double down on ‘great replacement’:
If someone used an idea you had been espousing as justification for a horrific act of mass murder, how would you react? That’s the question many conservatives faced in the wake of the massacre in a Buffalo supermarket, when we learned that the accused killer wrote a manifesto echoing the “great replacement theory” that has become so prominent in conservative circles of late.
They might have reacted in any number of ways: Reconsidering the implications of their rhetoric, toning things down, perhaps actively dissuading those who might see in that rhetoric as a rationale for violence.
Instead, many on the right are doing the opposite: They’re doubling down on the great replacement. As a result of the horror in Buffalo, this rancid idea might become even more central to Republican ideology.
The idea has roots that go back a long way, but in its contemporary form, the theory holds that Democrats, sometimes in cooperation with a conspiracy of powerful Jews, are scheming to import huge numbers of non-White immigrants to overwhelm “legacy Americans,” as Fox News host Tucker Carlson puts it. These immigrants will be granted citizenship to vote out Republicans and turn the United States into a dystopian nightmare in which White people will be hounded and oppressed.
The underlying presumptions are that every immigrant is a threat to White people, and that the growing diversification of America is both terrifying and the product of a conspiracy to oppress Whites and destroy the country.
Some form of great replacement theory has apparently inspired numerous mass shootings. The man who killed 11 people in 2018 in a Pittsburgh synagogue did so because he believed Jews were responsible for importing non-White immigrants. The man who killed 23 people at an El Paso Walmart in 2019 wanted to kill immigrants from Mexico.
What distinguishes the current moment is that talk of “replacement” is not just for torch-bearing neo-Nazis chanting “Jews will not replace us” anymore. It’s now deep in the heart of the Republican Party and the conservative movement, promoted by TV hosts and high-ranking GOP officeholders and candidates.
Here’s some of what we’ve heard in the past few days:
- Carlson, who has touted ideas echoing the great replacement on no fewer than 400 episodes of his show, said bizarrely that “we’re still not sure exactly what it is.” He then echoed it again, insisting that Democrats want to import non-natives to “change the electorate.”
- Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick went on Fox News to say that Democrats want to “bring in millions of people into this country illegally” to turn them into “voters so they can control the country.”
- At this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (held in Budapest as a tribute to Hungarian dictator Viktor Orban), CPAC chair Matt Schlapp told reporters that overturning Roe v. Wade would help tip the balance against immigrants. “If you’re worried about this quote-unquote replacement,” he said, we should “start with allowing our own people to live.”
- Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters recorded a video in which he said, “The Democrats want to bring in millions of people and grant them amnesty,” and then anticipated that this would get him labeled a “white supremacist.”
- Some Republicans who have promoted versions of the great replacement, such as Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance, have chosen to focus on their own alleged oppression. “Accusations of racism are often about silencing dissent. You’re not a racist for wanting an immigration system that protects our citizens,” Vance tweeted.
- Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) insisted that the United States is the victim of an “invasion” from the south, comparing it with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as though Mexican farmworkers were bombing U.S. cities and killing Americans by the thousands.
We’ve seen versions of this exchange many times before: There’s an act of right-wing domestic terrorism; it turns out that the terrorist was motivated by ideas heard commonly from conservative media figures and Republican politicians; Democrats say “You helped this happen”; and Republicans reply “How dare you say that, we’re the real victims here.”
But if this time feels a little different, it might be because few if any members in the Republican Party are saying “Maybe we ought to turn down the volume a bit.” There is no self-reflection, and no one in a position of influence is willing to discourage fellow Republicans from continuing to inject this noxious poison into the national bloodstream.
All we hear from the right is more anger, more venom and a ratcheting up of the rhetoric. Which means that the result of the Buffalo massacre will be a Republican Party more, not less, committed to the great replacement idea.
And if you point that out? They’ll become even more convinced that it’s what they should believe.
Here’s proof of Waldman’s last point:
Thank you for your endorsement, such a great honor! https://t.co/Xr3GE7Wgwk
— Wendy Rogers (@WendyRogersAZ) May 20, 2022