Wendy Rogers Wants to Put 1.3 Million Americans Out of Work

State Senator Wendy Rogers (left) speaks with supporters outside the Arizona State Capitol building on the opening day of the 55th Legislature in Phoenix in January.
State Senator Wendy Rogers (left) speaks with supporters outside the Arizona State Capitol building on the opening day of the 55th Legislature in Phoenix in January. Gage Skidmore

After vowing to create jobs, Arizona state senator Wendy Rogers said she intends to put more than 1 million Americans out of work.

Federal employees, specifically. And Arizona has a lot of ‘em.

Rogers promised it would be a “fed boy summer” in the wake of a racist mass shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, in May. Political observers said Rogers was employing the debunked trope that the attack was a false-flag operation, kindling her apathy toward the federal government.

Attention all fed boys: Enjoy your summer while you still can.

The first-term Republican from Flagstaff made her stance on fed boys crystal clear in a tweet on Monday. And yes, "fed boy" indeed means the federal government, her attorney Tim LaSota confirmed in a June 17 report from the Arizona Senate Ethics Committee.

“When we take back the Federal Government we need to abolish 70% of the agencies and employees,” Rogers tweeted.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management reports there almost 1.9 million Americans and 38,000 Arizonans working for Uncle Sam. If Rogers got her way, based on simple and proportional math, she would put nearly 1.3 million gainfully employed Americans out of work, including around 27,000 from her home state.

And it's hard to see how Rogers could cut the workforce so deeply without downsizing the military, which accounts for 677,000 jobs, or around 35 percent of the federal workforce. That's a radical departure from typical GOP priorities.

Rogers, a U.S. Air Force veteran, did not respond to questions from Phoenix New Times about which agencies or jobs she would nix first.

“It’s an intentional misunderstanding of what government does and how it does it,” Chuck Coughlin, a Phoenix-based Republican political analyst, told New Times on Tuesday.

“Most of the federal government’s expenditures are on the military and national defense,” Coughlin said. “I don't understand that — the backbone of Arizona’s economy is the federal military bases that exist here. Those bases are the basis for the growth of this state.”

The Luke Air Force Base near Glendale, the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground, and seven other federal military facilities contribute over $11 billion to Arizona's economy and provide more than 75,000 jobs, according to the Southern Arizona Defense Alliance.

That has attracted half a million veterans to the state, Coughlin asserted, a number corroborated in a 2020 analysis.

“There would be dramatic cuts to essential services,” he said, if Rogers got her way.

“It is a complete empty rhetoric that I’m sure will appeal to people who know very little about government,” Coughlin said. “Apparently, Wendy doesn’t know much about government herself.”

The Donald Trump-endorsed state lawmaker has been a vocal proponent of returning more governmental power to the states. Even after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said last month that a federal abortion ban was on the table, Rogers retorted, “Mitch McConnell needs to go.”

Rogers sponsored her own total abortion ban for Arizona last year, which failed.

Still, she’s hell-bent against federal government overreach, something she sees all around her, like in the Buffalo shooting.

In a June 8 letter to Chris Kleminich, the Senate attorney, Rogers said the “fed boy summer” comment referred to her summertime qualms "due to the Federal Government's inaction and failure to enforce our laws both at the border and regarding individuals with prior convictions."

That perceived governmental incompetence "could lead to riots and looting like we saw in the summer of 2020,” she said in the letter.

The answer to that problem, should it exist, is not slashing federal personnel back to 547,000, the lowest numbers since before World War II, Republicans and Democrats in Arizona agree.

“The impact would be devastating to our entire state if we obliterated 70 percent of our federal government,” Martín Quezada, a Democratic state senator from Maryvale, told New Times on Tuesday. “You can’t wave a magic wand and eliminate those agencies and positions without ruining our entire country.”

Unemployment aside, the most devastating ramification would be losing the necessary services that those federal agencies provide, Quezada said.

“It shows how far from reality the world she’s living in is,” he said.

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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