This story was updated at 4:15 p.m. on April 8, 2019 with comments from Steve Weichert.
Arizona's esteemed Congressman Paul Gosar — defender of Islamophobia and conspiracy theories, black sheep of the Gosar family, and eloquent dentist — last week added two more feathers to his well-plumed cap.
On Thursday, investigative news site Sludge reported that Gosar apparently somehow forgot to mention in travel reports to the U.S. House of Representatives that he met with far-right nationalist European politicians during a dinner in London last July.
Gosar's travel report described his dining companions as "members of the U.K. parliament." But Sludge reported that no British MPs attended the dinner.
Rather, Gosar joined nationalist, anti-immigrant politicians, ex-politicians, and activists from Sweden, Belgium, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and France. Steven Bannon, the former Trump adviser and ex-chairman of Breitbart News notorious for his alt-right views, hosted the event.
The discrepancies between Gosar's filed travel reports and his actual activities emerged because of The Brink, a new documentary about Bannon that covered the dinner. Based on scheduling and other information, it was unlikely that Gosar somehow managed to attend both the scheduled dinner with MPs and the dinner hosted by Bannon, according to Sludge.
Filing unintentionally false travel reports can lead to a reprimand from the House Ethics Committee, Sludge reported. Deliberately lying about them, however, is a different matter. Doing so is illegal and can result in fines of up to $11,000, a five-year prison sentence, or both.
On that same trip to London, Gosar spoke at a rally in support of anti-Muslim activist Tommy Robinson, blaming a "scourge" of Pakistani and Bangladeshi men for sex trafficking and child abuse in the country.
The revelations about Gosar's London trip came the day after Gosar took to Twitter to call Steve Weichert, a former candidate for Arizona State Senate, a "little bitch."
Steve is ignorant of history and a liar. He says “We need more bipartisanship - in the State Capitol and in Washington - if we’re going to solve the very real challenges we face” then calls me a “pig.” What a little bitch.— Paul Gosar (@DrPaulGosar) April 4, 2019
That tweet came several days after Weichert tweeted calling Gosar a "pig" and "unworthy of the office he now holds" for introducing a resolution to dub the birthday of labor and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez "National Border Control Day." For a time, Chavez was ardently opposed to illegal immigration.
Later, Gosar tweeted again to call Weichert a "porn loving whiny bitch." He subsequently deleted that tweet — after Weichert had already captured it.
Weichert said Gosar’s call to dub Chavez’s birthday National Border Control Day infuriated him and prompted his tweet.
“It’s really just, kind of, dog-whistle politics,” Weichert said. “It’s really co-opting a day meant to honor a civil rights leader...to put out his own message which has racial overtones.”
He added, “I think elected leaders should also aspire to be moral leaders.” Weichert, who ran unsuccessfully last year for State Senate in LD17, said he felt “embarrassed” after calling Gosar a pig.
“I don’t usually devolve into that kind of ad hominem attacks,” he said. “I responded emotionally.”
So, here’s what I woke up to this morning - yet another personal attack from our elected US Rep, @RepGosar. I’m not sure whether to be flattered for the individual attention or horrified. (He’s now thought better of this tweet and deleted it. Thankfully, I capture every mention.) pic.twitter.com/JOVUrFKJ0v— Steve Weichert (@SteveWeichert) April 4, 2019
Gosar has served in Congress since 2011. He currently represents Arizona's fourth congressional district, which includes Prescott and parts of Phoenix. His office did not return a request seeking comment for this story.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.