Mark Brnovich Keeps Peddling Vaccine Distrust

Attorney General Mark Brnovich
Attorney General Mark Brnovich Gage Skidmore
Arizona attorney general Mark Brnovich has had a lot to say about vaccines lately.

Brnovich, who is also running for U.S. Senate, raised eyebrows in September when, in an audio recording of a private meeting obtained by AZFamily, he wondered “what’s the point?” of the Covid-19 vaccine at all.

In the past few weeks, though, he’s begun casting doubt on the vaccines far more openly. In one recent appearance on Turning Point founder Charlie Kirk's podcast, Brnovich went on a long tangent claiming that the vaccine isn’t effective and the data behind it is flawed. Then he compared the Biden administration to Stalin.

Public health experts are frustrated.

"It's misinformation and the impact can be potentially deadly," said Dr. Shad Marvasti, a physician and the director of the public health program at the University of Arizona.

Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association, called Brnovich's statements a political ploy. The rhetoric, he noted, has given Brnovich a platform within conservative media — at a time when he's struggling to keep up with his competitors' fundraising in the Senate race.

“He’s intentionally saying provocative things to get himself on Fox News,” Humble said. “He doesn’t really care whether it's true or not. Or whether his words discourage people to get vaccinated or not.”

On Friday, Brnovich announced he's leading an 11-state coalition that's filing a series of lawsuits against federal vaccine mandates. The newest petition, now pending review in federal court, opposes the Biden administration’s OSHA guidance, which requires that businesses with over 100 workers require vaccination or weekly testing by January 4.

In other lawsuits Brnovich has filed, he's conjured more unorthodox arguments against vaccines, including one in which he attempts to turn it into an immigration issue. That one, filed in federal court last month, argues that the government is illegally discriminating against U.S. citizens by mandating vaccines for federal contractors, but not for undocumented immigrants. "This is discrimination in favor of unauthorized aliens," the suit reads.

That same lawsuit also insinuated that vaccines were not appropriately vetted for safety, due to a “significantly accelerated” development process.

On Kirk's podcast, Brnovich doubled down on those claims. “We're told that the vaccine's 90 percent effective, then we're told it's 40 percent effective,” he said. “We're now told every three months that, oh, there's a new variant. There's this new booster.”

“That demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of what science is,” Humble said. He added that the vaccine’s development had taken “no shortcuts at all other than making the vaccine available under emergency use authorization.”

In the past, Brnovich has denied that he thinks that vaccines are unsafe (although he has refused to say whether or not he himself is vaccinated). A spokesperson for Brnovich did not reply to New Times’ request for comment on his latest statements.
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Katya Schwenk is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. She previously reported for VTDigger and the Indypendent.
Contact: Katya Schwenk