Congessan David Schweikert, who represents parts of Scottsdale, Phoenix, and Cave Creek, has taken conspiracy-theory-laden GOP paranoia to a new level with his latest fundraising appeal.
Dated June 5, the letter warns:
Be on the lookout.
Groups called 'Resistance,' 'Stronger Together,' 'Indivisible,' 'We Are the People,' and 'We feel the Bern' are far left front groups determined to inflict the kind of violence that we have never seen before.
These groups believe that even Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are too moderate. They drive a radical social agenda and will stop no turn to 'clash with police,' 'incite violence,' 'light cars on fire,' 'incite mass arrests,' 'and use women, children, and families to mass confusion.'
This is a transparently ridiculous claim: Anyone who's ever spent any time around these groups knows that they're primarily made up of middle-aged and retired homeowners who are rightfully pissed off that their health insurance might get taken away.
"I’m 35 and I’m the youngest one," says Christy Love, one of the leaders of Indivisible AZ CD6, which is based in Schweikert's district and regularly protests outside his office. "I think the median age is about 70. We've been dubbed the cookie grandmas, and it’s actually quite accurate."
The tactics employed by these so-called "cookie grandmas" typically involve targeting their senators and members of Congress with repeated letters and phone calls, standing outside their offices and waving protest signs, and asking for opportunities to meet with their elected officials and discuss their concerns ... not exactly the kind of unprecedented violence that Schweikert's fundraising letter is claiming.
Schweikert does get one thing right, however: He's correct in noting that leftist activism has ramped up in response to Trump's election.
His claim that "every 24 hours, protests are being organized our community" is somewhat exaggerated, but not that far from the truth — there have been a lot of protests recently. Just, you know, not violent ones where cars get set on fire.
He also states that "the left is determined to disrupt and disorganize," which isn't entirely wrong — that's exactly what groups that follow the Indivisible model are designed to do. Those groups, it's worth noting, are copying the playbook used by Schweikert's own Tea Party and using those tactics to fight for liberal causes.
But Schweikert's next assertion, which claims that liberal activists are "investing big resources neighborhood-to-neighborhood across Maricopa County," couldn't be further from the truth.
“The only resources we have are homemade signs and GoFund Me accounts to help pay for costs associated with marches and rallies,” says Susan Hudson, a member of Stronger Together Arizona and Indivisble CD9. “I’ve had friends put the initial costs on their own credit cards and hope for reimbursement.”
Obviously, the fundraising letter is intended to appeal to the Breitbart and Fox News crowd, who seem to believe that the country is just one health care rally away from descending into total anarchy. (Remember when Arizona lawmakers tried to criminalize planning protests, citing the imaginary threat of paid agitators?)
However, even those news outlets haven't stooped to the level of accusing Indivisible groups of trying to incite mass violence.
In fact, Phoenix New Times did a search to see if any fake news sites had published stories that could possibly be the (fictitious) basis for the accusations in the congressman's fundraising appeal. We turned up nothing.
Yes, some anti-Trump protesters set a limo on fire on Inauguration Day. However, there's no evidence that those protesters had any connection to the groups referenced in Schweikert's letter.
In a letter sent to Schweikert in response, Stronger Together Arizona notes, "There have been ZERO acts of violence at any of our events and we do not in any way promote or condone violence of any kind."
This isn't the first time that Team Schweikert has dramatically overreacted when confronted by a group of concerned senior citizens and stay-at-home moms: Back in February, when a group of Indivisible CD6 members showed up at his office with cookies and asked if they could speak with the congressman, his staff responded by calling the cops.
In May, Schweikert's office staff again dispatched police officers to remove a group of retirees who had gathered outside his office, Christy Love of Indivisible AZ CD6 says. They'd been hoping to get a word in with Schweikert after he left a private meeting.
Representatives from Schweikert's office could not immediately be reached for comment to explain why this response was necessary.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
New Times also reached out to both Schweikert's Congressional staff and his re-election campaign to ask for evidence that these "far-left groups" (many of which contain moderates who've voted Republican in the past, for what it's worth) have incited violence. Our messages have not been returned.
You can view Schweikert's fundraising appeal in its entirety below: