Committee Chair Kills GOP Lawmaker's Ethics Complaint Against 42 Democrats

The Arizona State Capitol.
The Arizona State Capitol. Gage Skidmore
An ethics complaint filed by Republican state Representative Mark Finchem earlier this week against 42 Democratic lawmakers for wrongfully accusing him of "fomenting" the deadly January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol has been stopped in its tracks.

The chair of the House Ethics Committee, state Representative Beck Nutt, a Republican from Clifton, wrote in a February 19 letter to the committee's members that the panel won't be acting on his ethics complaint. She cited the fact that she similarly decided not to act on 82 ethics complaints that had been previously filed against Finchem for his alleged involvement in the events of January 6.

"The ethics committee is not an arena for waging political contests. That is true whether the subjects of a complaint are individual Republicans (as before) or nearly the entire Democratic caucus (here)," she wrote. "The ethics committee is not a court of law. So, while I express no view on the legal merits of Representative Finchem's claims, I also conclude that the ethics committee should take no action on the complaint at this time."

Finchem said he had "no comment, on advice of legal counsel."

Nutt's decision not to investigate Finchem's complaint is the latest development in an ongoing war between Arizona Democrats and Finchem over his activities on January 6.

Finchem was in Washington D.C. when the attack on the Capitol occurred, and Arizona Democrats have asked the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate him and other Republican elected officials. House Democrats have also called for Finchem to be expelled.

In response, on February 16, Finchem filed an ethics complaint against 28 current and former members of the state House of Representatives and 14 members of the Senate, alleging that Democrats have "conspired, maliciously, and in bad faith" to have him "punished" for exercising his "First Amendment right to peaceably assemble and contest the legitimacy of the election."

"They have gone so far as to demand that the acting Attorney General of the United States and the Director of the FBI open a criminal investigation into my actions, all while knowing full well that I am innocent of that charge," Finchem's complaint reads. "They must be sanctioned accordingly."

On the same day that he filed his ethics complaint, Finchem also released text messages to Phoenix New Times that showed him coordinating social media posts, strategy, and his appearance at the January 6 rally in Washington D.C. that precipitated the riot with Ali Alexander, a prominent "Stop the Steal" activist. While Finchem didn't state why he made the records public, the messages don't illustrate that he was directly involved in orchestrating the violence at the Capitol.

Previously, Finchem had refused to release his personal phone records to the media.

(Updated after publication with Finchem's no-comment comment.)

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Josh Kelety was a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. Previously, he worked as a reporter for the Inlander and Seattle Weekly.
Contact: Josh Kelety