Politics

Congressional Committee Demands Communications from Alt-Right AZ GOP Lawmaker

Arizona State Representative Mark Finchem
Arizona State Representative Mark Finchem Gage Skidmore/Flickr
The lawmaker who claims the certified 2020 presidential election was "rigged" now wants to run Arizona's elections.

Arizona State Representative Mark Finchem claims the state's election results from November 2020 unfairly favored the Democratic Party, in what has become a well-worn alt-right conspiracy theory and rallying cry.

But that's not stopping Finchem from eyeing yet another campaign bid seeking to become Arizona Secretary of State when voters go to the polls in November, two years later.

But before he can give his full attention to the statewide campaign bid, he must comply with a demand from the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack to turn over his personal communication documents.

Finchem, who falsely declared himself an elector for defeated President Donald Trump, posted on social media recently, “They paint me as a threat to democracy.”

He likened the political committee to a "kangaroo court," questioning its legal authority to issue any orders.

Since 2015, Finchem has represented District 11, comprised mostly of rural communities along Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Tucson.

He's convinced that the political establishment in Washington, D.C. has turned the magnifying glass upon him.

The House Select Committee is tasked with investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol while Congress was certifying the Electoral College results. Finchem peddled “unsubstantiated claims about the election," according to the committee's letter.

But it's unclear what exactly the committee is searching for. Nobody is willing to disclose such information.

The subpoena itself is sealed and only Finchem was sent a copy.

Phoenix New Times requested a copy from Finchem, but he did not respond by Friday afternoon.

The committee wants to sniff out communications between the four-term lawmaker and leaders from the "Stop the Steal" organization, an extremist group connected to QAnon conspirators and the neo-fascist Proud Boys.

The communication record would likely include such things as emails, social media messages, and texts between Finchem and his followers. In a parallel subpoena of Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward, the committee demanded personal phone logs.

Ward rebuffed the subpoena. She filed a lawsuit in federal court in an effort to block the committee's demand. Her case is still pending.

The reason for these court orders is because work-issued smartphone data for all public officials are already public records. Ordinarily, anyone can access them without a court order. Ward is not a public official in the eyes of the law.

But Finchem is.

If Finchem doesn't comply with the subpoena by March 1, he could be held in contempt of Congress and could face civil penalties. In theory, he could face jail time, if charged with contempt and convicted.

“We expect [Finchem] to cooperate as we work to tell the American people the full story about the violence of January 6 and its causes,” said committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat in a statement.

The Tucson Republican has other ideas.

“They’re trying to intimidate the people,” Finchem told an ultra-conservative blog on Thursday. “I think what this is, is an exercise in public political hit jobs."

Finchem didn’t respond to several questions from New Times and refused interviews with any traditional media outlets in metro Phoenix.

The Arizona lawmaker is expected to testify before the committee on March 15 in a deposition, after giving up his personal communication records.

But he isn't willing to do so without an attorney, he told his 27,000 followers on Gab, a social media platform that’s a favorite of conservatives.

He asked his followers to pay for the attorney on a Christian crowd-funding site.

The federal committee tapped Finchem, a career police officer and rancher who moved to Arizona from Detroit, as having “information about efforts to send false slates of electors to Washington." In October 2020, New Times revealed Finchem had worked with anti-government extremists.

He was listed as Arizona's top dog in the Coalition of Western States, an anti-government militia group spanning Washington, Idaho, Nevada, and Arizona.

In November 2020, he organized an event in a Phoenix hotel and spouted claims of voter fraud along with then-President Donald Trump’s legal team, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

He promised to deliver to then-Vice President Mike Pence evidence that would postpone the Electoral College certification.

The election was “rigged,” Finchem said at the time.

The American people had been “robbed” and the country was “under assault by foreign powers," he said.

Finchem was in the nation’s capital on January 6 last year, he admitted.

He falsely identified violent protesters at the Capitol as members of the left-wing domestic terrorist group Antifa and claimed they had been planted there by Democrats.

The average Republican demonstrator was peaceful and respectful, Finchem said.

He asserted that “police officers were actually directing people past the barricades,” despite five police officers dying and 138 more law enforcement members sustaining injuries in the wake of the clash with rioters.

Nearly a dozen Republicans tried to undermine the democratic election when they each signed a fraudulent document claiming to be Arizona electors.

Finchem, who is petitioning to decertify and dismiss all of Arizona’s electors, hasn’t yet shared any plans to push back on the January 6 Committee demand.

The “Arizona honey badger,” as he calls himself, riffing on the animal's reputation for having a mean streak and being fiercely independent, wants to position himself to have power over Arizona's elections.

As secretary of state, Finchem would oversee the administration of elections, a position that would be very valuable to those seeking undue influence over the results.

On February 7, the legislator introduced a resolution to decertify the 2020 election results in Maricopa, Pima, and Yuma Counties.

His campaign pitch to voters is clear: “DEMAND SECURE ELECTIONS NOW!”
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Elias Weiss is a staff writer at the Phoenix New Times. A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, he reported first for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and was editor of the Chatham Star-Tribune in Southern Virginia, where he covered politics and law. In 2020, the Virginia Press Association awarded him first place in the categories of Government Writing and Breaking News Writing for non-daily newspapers statewide.
Contact: Elias Weiss