The Far-Right Arizona Revolution Screaming Up Out of Trump's Presidential Carcass

The Far-Right Arizona Revolution Screaming Up Out of Trump's Presidential Carcass
Tom Carlson

“Everything’s a blur,” said Katie Hobbs, Arizona’s Secretary of State. “I don’t even know what day it is.”

Since Election Day, every single avenue of communication to her office — every phone line, every social media account — has been inundated with attempts at contact from angry supporters of President Trump who believe the 2020 election was somehow rigged or stolen, Hobbs said in a recent interview with Phoenix New Times.

The top election official in the state, Hobbs said she couldn’t even classify the deluge as political pressure, given that her office has already done everything demanded of it to ensure the election was conducted fairly; there’s nothing to pressure her into. Rather, the Secretary of State says, the flood of fervor, vitriol, and threats of violence from these irate disbelievers amounts to pure harassment. She described Trump’s moves to delegitimize the election, and the vitriol and threats of violence that’s rising out of his loyal base, as being tantamount to an attempted coup.

“I think that the ultimate end goal for the President and his supporters — who are continuing to cry foul, and screaming for all of these things — they want to overturn the results of a free and fair election that was conducted according to the laws of the state of Arizona, and the other states of this country,” Hobbs said.

On November 30, Hobbs, a Democrat, joined three Republicans — Governor Doug Ducey, Attorney General Mark Brnovich, and Chief Justice Robert Brutinel — in signing off on the state’s 2020 official general election results, which had been certified by each of Arizona’s 15 counties. In the end, Joe Biden bested Donald Trump by just 10,457 votes — a narrow margin, but not nearly enough to trigger a recount in the state.

Hobbs, though, was not exhausted merely as a public servant. The harassment experienced at the offices of the Secretary of State had also found its way to her home, where she lives with her husband and two children. A week after the election, there was discussion on the right-wing social media platform Parler about “burning my house down, killing me and my family,” she said. Her residential address and her son’s phone number were subsequently published on Parler, on November 15.

Two days later, Hobbs’s husband, Pat Goodman, called while she was working late at the Arizona State Capitol. Protesters had gathered outside their home. They waved Trump 2020 flags and blared “God Bless the U.S.A.,” by Lee Greenwood, a staple of Trump rallies and an unofficial anthem of the MAGA movement. Over the music, protesters could be heard speaking in bizarre falsetto voices saying things like “Can Katie come out and play?” At another point, after protesters were confronted by a neighbor who asked them to lower the volume of their music because his infant child was sleeping, and to stay off his property, protesters began chanting “We demand an audit! We demand an audit!”

click to enlarge Katie Hobbs - AZ SOS OFFICE
Katie Hobbs
AZ SOS Office
Hobbs contacted the Arizona Department of Public Safety, and some of her neighbors called the Phoenix Police Department. By the time officers arrived, the protesters had disbanded, she says.

The next day, the harassment migrated to Phoenix Children’s Hospital, where Goodman works as a trauma therapist. According to Hobbs, the hospital received more than 200 phone calls that day related to various conspiracy theories about Goodman.

Hobbs said that much of the harassment against her husband tracked back to social media posts made by an individual named Douglas Harding. Harding has made a name for himself in right-wing social media circles through the course of the pandemic, posting pictures of unfounded pandemic claims (such as that public health guidance has been driven by false data or corrupt purposes) and election-related claims (it was somehow stolen) written in black marker on pages of a notepad. He calls these “notepad news.”

“There are several Facebook Lives where he’s just ranting, connecting all these dots, basically saying my husband is conducting Pizzagate in Arizona,” Hobbs said. “And that I stole the election, and that Doug Ducey is trying to curtail everybody’s civil liberties by telling us you can’t have people at your house for Thanksgiving, or whatever.”

At its inception, Pizzagate — a conspiracy theory positing that high-ranking Democrats were engaged in pedophilia and conducting a child sex ring in the basement of a Washington, D.C. pizza restaurant — was principally advanced by conspiracy theorists Alex Jones and Mike Cernovich. In 2016, a gunman who believed the theory eventually entered the actual restaurant and fired several shots before being arrested.

In the days following this year’s November 3 election, both Cernovich and Jones visited Arizona and took part in protests against the results of the election. Cernovich, in particular, has deep ties to some of the more militant factions of Arizona’s rising far-right movement, a group that has been hyper-invigorated in the state following a year that included a pandemic, civil strife, and Trumpian politics of division.

Cernovich and Jones were greeted warmly upon their arrival in Arizona, and not just by confused citizens. Congressman Paul Gosar used his social media accounts to promote Cernovich’s involvement in protests against Arizona election results, and even joined the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theorist in the streets outside Maricopa County elections offices. He also called 2020 the “most corrupt election in state history” following the certification of the vote by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

Kelli Ward, the chair of the Arizona Republican Party, appeared with Cernovich at campaign events during her unsuccessful 2018 U.S. Senate run. Throughout 2020, Ward has consistently promoted wild conspiracies. She alleged that ICU nurses from COVID wards who counter-protested April’s “Reopen Arizona” demonstrations were politically motivated impersonators, and her Twitter feed is currently an endless stream of false allegations concerning the 2020 election.

Ward has directed a great deal of ire toward Hobbs, who told New Times she is concerned that all the false allegations of mass voter fraud have served to encourage the harassment and threats of violence she and her family have experienced since the election.

New Times sought comment from Ward about that. Ward responded:

“Statement from the party: The Republican Party of Arizona condemns in the strongest possible terms any and all threats of violence.” She declined to further discuss the state of the Republican Party in Arizona with New Times.

click to enlarge Elexis and Daniel McCarthy with Trump. McCarthy continues to claim Trump lost in Arizona as a result of election fraud. - DEMANDDANIEL.COM
Elexis and Daniel McCarthy with Trump. McCarthy continues to claim Trump lost in Arizona as a result of election fraud.

By not participating in an attempted political coup fueled by baseless fever dreams,
Ducey and other elected Republicans in the state have alienated large swaths of the Trump base. A vacuum has been created, and it is being filled, in part, by a cosmetics salesman named Daniel McCarthy and a nascent group called the Patriot Party of Arizona.

McCarthy’s political rise began in 2019, when he announced his run for the U.S. Senate seat occupied by Republican Martha McSally. McSally had been appointed by Ducey in 2018 to fill the seat of longtime Senator John McCain.

In her short time in the Senate, McSally aligned herself with President Trump and enjoyed his backing. But in August 2019, following a series of racially motivated mass murders, including an August shooting in El Paso that killed 23 and left dozens injured, McSally voiced mild support for legislation that would designate such white nationalist attacks as acts of domestic terrorism. Specifically, she backed a proposal that would allow the government to confiscate weapons possessed by suspected domestic terrorists and the mentally ill.

It was this threat of potential “red flag” laws that spurred McCarthy to challenge McSally. In September 2019, he rolled out his “Demand Daniel” U.S. Senate campaign.

Throughout the campaign, McCarthy projected an image of success: the prosperous businessman behind a cosmetics business (his wife, Elexis, invented a product called Makeup Eraser) and a thriving real estate brokerage called DeLex Realty. According to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records, of the $607,745 in total receipts taken in by Demand Daniel, $511,648 were loans from McCarthy to his own campaign.

In the months following the onset of the pandemic, McCarthy and others on Arizona’s political far-right seized on the public health crisis and its economic fallout as a way of promoting their political brands.

The “Reopen Arizona” protests in April and May were widely promoted and organized through social media, chiefly through the social media accounts of right-wing Facebook group Great48! (which had 34,500 members at that time), the anti-immigrant hate group AZ Patriots (a group that was removed from Facebook following the November 3 election, ostensibly due to its rhetoric), the Demand Daniel campaign, and other right-wing activists associated with McCarthy.

New Times spoke with McCarthy in May, after Ducey issued executive orders closing “non-essential” business and imposing restrictions on some day-to-day activities.

“Since when do we allow for a governor to tell us what’s essential and not essential?” McCarthy said. “‘Essential’ is a code word for communism. ‘Essential businesses’ is a code word for communism.”

According to McCarthy, the specter of a pandemic was being used as a means of advancing a communist agenda.

“The idea that you’re gonna stop something that has a spread rate that’s already there, and to scare the public — and to jolt the public — into acceptance of a new normal, is one of the most dangerous things, if not the most dangerous thing, I have ever seen before,” McCarthy said. He went on to predict a looming takeover of the energy and healthcare sectors of the American economy by a communist “consolidation of power.”

Asked who he believes to be behind this conspiracy, McCarthy told New Times: “There are forces out there... You know, because you’re a part of it. I mean, the propaganda that you guys push on us. The propaganda that’s continuously perpetuated by this relentless media — all these things that are used to, like I said, jolt society closer and closer to this [communist] utopia.”

click to enlarge Trump supporters protesting election results at the Maricopa County Elections Department office on November 6. - COURTNEY PEDROZA / GETTY IMAGES
Trump supporters protesting election results at the Maricopa County Elections Department office on November 6.
Courtney Pedroza / Getty Images

McCarthy lost the August 2020 primary to McSally by a substantial margin, though he told New Times he believes the election was tampered with and stolen from him.

McSally would go on to be defeated by Democratic candidate Mark Kelly in the general election. For the first time since 1952, two Democrats now represent Arizona in the U.S. Senate.

Within the McCarthy campaign, though, were the seeds of an ugly political movement that is beginning to bloom.

On April 20, McCarthy and other right-wing activists led a large group of citizens — few of whom were wearing masks or observing social distancing recommendations — into the Arizona Capitol building to protest pandemic restrictions. As the crowd shouted slogans in the lobby, McCarthy, far-right Republican congressional candidate Josh Barnett, and a contingent of activists attempted to gain access to Ducey’s office.

These activists, according to social media posts, included future Patriot Party of Arizona Chairman Steve Daniels, a Demand Daniel campaign volunteer named Earline Medina, Demand Daniel campaign volunteer Karye Perez, and right-wing activist Marko Trickovic. FEC records indicate that Demand Daniel would go on to pay both Trickovic and Daniels for “communications” and “field services” work during the summer of 2020.

According to state records, Trickovic filed for the creation of a political standing committee, Arizonans for Liberty, on April 30. The following day, the Secretary of State’s office signed off on the committee and Trickovic, as chairman of Arizona’s for Liberty, filed an application to initiate a recall petition against the governor.

Trickovic cited Ducey’s “unconstitutional” COVID-19-related executive orders as grounds for the recall effort. The application listed activist and Demand Daniel campaign volunteer Karye Perez as treasurer of Arizonans for Liberty.

On May 8, Arizonans for Liberty was converted from a standing committee to a political action committee, or PAC. Asked in May by New Times how any money raised for the PAC would be spent, Trickovic said, “If I raise any money ever for the PAC, it will be utilized for the recall effort or any similar effort to hold public officials accountable to their constituents and the citizens of this state.”

Also in May, future Patriot Party of Arizona chairman Daniels issued a public warning to Arizona state lawmakers, vowing that Arizonans for Liberty would support opposition candidates in future races against “any incumbent that does not immediately take action to end these Tyrannical Executive Actions by Governor Ducey.”

Though the recall effort was ultimately unsuccessful, it’s reasonable to surmise that Ducey felt some pressure from these screeching gales of threats. In the days following the April 29 extension of the stay-at-home order, the governor modified, then essentially nullified, the restrictions. There have been no substantial pandemic-related restrictions since. More than 270,000 Americans have died of the novel coronavirus to date.

According to state records, on June 11, 2020, Trickovic and Perez transferred leadership of Arizonas for Liberty over to fellow Demand Daniel activist Earline Medina (as treasurer) and Kimberly Mooney (who could not be reached for comment). According to social media posts, Medina and Trickovic would continue to work with Daniels and McCarthy in the Patriot Party of Arizona, following the August primary election.

McCarthy told New Times there is no “formal” relationship between Arizonans for Liberty PAC and Patriot Party of Arizona PAC — even though Daniels gave “[email protected]” as the Patriot Party of Arizona’s contact email address on the group’s statement of organization.

The Demand Daniel campaign also had strong ties to College Republicans United, or CRU, an Arizona State University political club founded in 2018 by then-student Rick Thomas.

Though it sounds like a club for enthusiastic conservative undergraduates, CRU’s politics place it well to the right of traditional college Republican groups, and the club has caused its share of controversy through its choices of guest speakers — among them the anti-Islam activist Carl Goldberg, former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, alt-right social media celebrity Ashton Whitty and her then-boyfriend, white nationalist social media figure Tim “Baked Alaska” Gionet. The club hosted the latter pair in March 2019 and declared them both to be “honorary members” of CRU.

click to enlarge A “c r u starter kit” posted in a private CRU chat group in April. - SCREENSHOT
A “c r u starter kit” posted in a private CRU chat group in April.

More recently, in February of this year, CRU hosted white nationalist-supporting, anti-immigrant media figure Michelle Malkin. Malkin is a leading figure in the “America First” movement, led by white nationalist Nick Fuentes. She has also spearheaded an effort to support a rising network of anti-immigration “nationalist” college Republican clubs across the nation — CRU prominent among them. Records of communications that took place in May, obtained by New Times, between Malkin, Thomas and CRU, demonstrate an ongoing relationship centered around activism aimed at extending Trump’s pandemic-related ban on immigration into the United States.

And, in March, the club hosted Mike Cernovich. In addition to Pizzagate, Cernovich has said date rape does not exist and promoted the white nationalist trope of “white genocide.”

Thomas told New Times that CRU has a longstanding relationship with Cernovich, dating back to the group’s inception. Both Malkin and Cernovich played substantial roles in promoting protests in Phoenix against the November election results. In November, Thomas told New Times he and CRU had been working to promote these protest events.

Thomas graduated in the fall of 2019, he said in an interview. According to state records, he incorporated Republicans United, LLC, or RU, in September of that year. Thomas says he no longer holds a leadership position within CRU and is instead merely an “advisor” to the club. He describes CRU as an ASU alumni organization, though according to its own web page, CRU is an umbrella organization that seeks to advance “conservatism” in Arizona among “Millennials and Gen-Z,” through the expansion of CRU at ASU and related student chapters at Yavapai College and Northern Arizona University.

According to Federal Election Commission records, the Demand Daniel campaign paid more than $40,000 to Thomas for “field services” and “recruiting” between October 2019 and August 2020. “I’ve got connections to people, and I try to get them involved,” Thomas told New Times when asked to describe his role in the campaign.

Thomas wasn’t the only member of RU/CRU leadership to be hired by the McCarthy campaign. Records of CRU communications obtained by New Times indicate that CRU vice president Nina Sarappo was brought on by the campaign around April 1. FEC records show that she was paid about $3,300 as a member of McCarthy’s “administrative staff,” from May through August. CRU president and RU board member Julie Houtman joined the Demand Daniel campaign as well and earned more than $5,300 for her “admin services” from June through August.

Private CRU chat logs obtained by New Times are replete with posts that appear to, variously: denigrate American Indians; rail against the myth of white privilege; express outrage over mass migration into Europe and the United States; voice suspicions over the authenticity of then-recently-released video depicting the murder of Ahmaud Arbery; and support various fringe conspiracy theories, such as the belief that most “leftists” are pedophiles.

During the period of the Demand Daniel campaign and the “Reopen Arizona” protests, these chat logs demonstrate that other members of CRU were recruited by Thomas to work for McCarthy and promote the protests. One of those recruits was club member Stefan Aleksic.

Aleksic has repeatedly expressed deep admiration of white supremacists and various white nationalist themes relating to immigration and fears of demographic ethnic replacement, according to CRU communications obtained by New Times.

For example, on April 16, in conversation with CRU members (including Thomas) pursuant to a question from CRU president Houtman on advice for “boomers” seeking to “recruit more young people,” Aleksic stated:
“I’d say talk about more pressing issues that face the conservative movement. This is one reason why I gravitated towards people like Jared Taylor, for instance, and why he’s one of my biggest influences. He’s very different from all mainstream conservatives because he’s not afraid to discuss very controversial issues that are the more imminent threat than socialism — in this case, demographics, which the mainstream right won’t discuss.”

Jared Taylor is a prominent white nationalist and founder of the racist propaganda organ American Renaissance.

Aleksic also suggested in a separate chat that CRU should invite “Lana from Red Ice” to come speak to the group. Red Ice is a white nationalist media company based in Sweden that has been demonetized and subsequently banned by YouTube over hate-speech rules that prohibit “promoting or glorifying Nazi ideology.” It is owned by the propagandist Henrik Palmgren; Lana Lokteff is his wife.

This is not the first time Thomas and CRU members have been shown in a light that appears to be sympathetic to white nationalism. In March 2019, Thomas and CRU drew wide condemnation after New Times published an article detailing social media chat logs that had been leaked by former CRU members.

click to enlarge Milk, a tiki torch, a Dodge Challenger, and CRU founder Rick Thomas. What does it all mean? - PROVIDED
Milk, a tiki torch, a Dodge Challenger, and CRU founder Rick Thomas. What does it all mean?
The leaked materials contained a photograph of a grinning Thomas standing in front of a Dodge Challenger, holding a jug of milk in one hand and a tiki torch in the other. Milk has become a meme signifying white supremacy, due to the erroneous notion in white supremacist circles that only white people can digest lactose beyond infancy. Tiki torches, of course, are loosely associated with white supremacy after the August 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, where neo-Nazis brandished them and marched through the night, chanting: “You will not replace us, Jews will not replace us!” The car Thomas posed with in the picture seems to have dark significance as well: It is the same model of Dodge Challenger that white supremacist James Alex Fields, Jr. drove into a crowd of peaceful counter protestors in Charlottesville, killing Heather Heyer and wounding several others.

Asked by New Times to explain the symbolism of the photograph, Thomas declined.

Asked by New Times what his thoughts on white nationalism are, Thomas stated that there is nothing wrong with “liking” “your heritage and your culture.” He said that, though people should not be excluded based on race, the demographic makeup and Western culture of the United States needs to be protected through tight immigration restrictions.

McCarthy, when asked for his thoughts on white nationalism, got twitchy. “What is a white nationalist?” he demanded.

Presented with a standard definition of the ideology — a belief in a nation based on Caucasian ethnicity — McCarthy said, “Oh, I see! So, is our president a white nationalist? … Do you think it’s a good idea for Martha McSally to define white nationalism at the federal level? Martha has said — in her words — that she thinks she would like the white nationalistst, ah, to be a domestic terrorism.”

He continued: “So, by definition, a white nationalist to you, and according to the dictionary-definition that you’re defining, is something completely different than what most people believe white nationalist is.”

New Times: How would you define “white nationalist”?

“I don’t think it’s a term that is deserving of a definition. I think you’re categorizing something that is so, so ridiculous.”

New Times: Why do you believe “white nationalism” to be beyond definition?

“What is, what is, what is... brown nationalism? What is black nationalism? What is nationalism? Is nationalism a bad thing? [...] You’re trying to take nationalism and make it a bad thing! Nationalism’s not a bad thing! Since when is nationalism a bad thing?”

Asked by New Times to describe what he would do if he found white nationalists in the employ of his campaign, McCarthy responded [via email, after first hanging up on New Times]:

“We love nationalism of all colors.”

click to enlarge Trickovic, Medina, Gentile, Daniels, and McCarthy at a livestreamed December 1 Patriot Party meeting. - FACEBOOK LIVE SCREENSHOT
Trickovic, Medina, Gentile, Daniels, and McCarthy at a livestreamed December 1 Patriot Party meeting.
Facebook Live Screenshot

In April, Thomas approached CRU members, seeking help with a project McCarthy had asked him to execute: organizing a group that would “form a golden slate of endorsed constitutional conservatives.”

“You can call this a political action committee, caucus, or a proto party against the gop [sic] even... But the committee needs to be formed and our job is to do research on every person running for office, vet them, and get them to join the slate,” wrote Thomas.

Along with the message, Thomas shared a document entitled “TradCon info” with the group, “TradCon” being a shortened version of one of the names the group was considering for the proto party at the time, “Traditional Conservatives.”

The document listed McCarthy, Maricopa County Sheriff candidate Jerry Sheridan, state House of Representatives candidate Randy Miller, and Arizona State Senate candidate Hop Nguyen as the group’s “founders.” (Miller and Nguyen did not respond to requests for comment.) Rick Thomas headed the list of “committee” activists, alongside Marko Trickovic, Steve Daniels, Earline Medina, and Karye Perez.

Both McCarthy and Thomas, speaking with New Times in May, denied any knowledge of the group, or that anything had ever become of the idea. In interviews with New Times in November, though, they acknowledged that the group was an early iteration of what would become the Patriot Party of Arizona.

Six weeks after McCarthy was defeated by McSally in the Republican primary, the Patriot Party of Arizona political action committee was organized, with Steve Daniels listed as its chairman.

In a statement to New Times, Daniels said the organization has been working since November 3 to gain the signatures required for it to become a fully recognized political party in the state of Arizona. Daniels said he was unable to provide a tally of signatures gathered to date but said that “based on the overwhelming response by disenfranchised voters, of varied political affiliations, we have had very little issue gathering signatures, and expect to meet our goal within the allotted time frame.”

A political party must submit a minimum of 31,686 signatures to the Arizona Secretary of State for validation. The deadline for signature submission depends on the date of the election the party hopes to participate in. 
click to enlarge The Patriot Party considers Arizona Republican Chair Kelli Ward, Governor Doug Ducey, and former Senator Martha McSally “RINOs,” or  Republicans in Name Only. - PHOTO: GAGE SKIDMORE. DESIGN: PATRIOT PARTY OF ARIZONA
The Patriot Party considers Arizona Republican Chair Kelli Ward, Governor Doug Ducey, and former Senator Martha McSally “RINOs,” or Republicans in Name Only.
Photo: Gage Skidmore. Design: Patriot Party of Arizona

The Patriot Party of Arizona is already raising cash. Green Valley resident Patrick Pettyjohn donated $20,000 on September 30, one week after the PAC’s creation. Though Pettyjohn could not be reached for comment, Patriot Party of Arizona Treasurer Tanya Anderson told New Times that Pettyjohn “is just a gentleman who sees the need for constitutional conservatism to be brought back to Arizona.”

“They believe in Daniel [McCarthy],” said Anderson, who added that she had first met Pettyjohn at a meeting of the Demand Daniel for U.S. Senate campaign. “They believe Daniel is fighting for our state.”

Anderson is the mother-in-law of Daniel McCarthy; she also jointly managed his campaign, according to the campaign’s spokesperson, Ross Trumble. Notably, the campaign also employed Shawn Dow, who had served as manager of Kelli Ward’s failed 2018 senate campaign. (Dow played down his role in the McCarthy campaign to New Times, saying that he was “just a vendor.”)

When New Times reached McCarthy, in November, to ask about his involvement with the Patriot Party of Arizona, he said he is “not really, necessarily, the leader of that organization.” He said he hopes the party can “consolidate” a broader far-right “patriot” movement in the state.

Both McCarthy and Thomas say they view the Patriot Party of Arizona as a potential tool for applying pressure on the Arizona Republican Party and “ejecting” elements within it they don’t like. On November 30, while taking part in protests against the certification of Arizona’s election results, Thomas has said he would throw the weight of CRU behind the Patriot Party of Arizona general election challengers to Republican candidates that do not meet his right-wing vision.

McCarthy, for his part, says he wishes the Arizona Republican party were cleansed of “fake Republicans” like Ducey and even Ward. He envisions circumstances where a future candidate, possibly himself, might run under the Patriot Party banner if an unreformed Arizona GOP “creates unfair conditions against a constitutional conservative candidate.”

McCarthy, his fledgling party and affiliated activists are not entirely on the outside looking in, either. According to Maricopa County Elections Division Records, McCarthy is a current GOP precinct committeeman, as are Trickovic, Medina, Miller, Nguyen, Perez, Thomas, Houtman, Sarappo, and (according to Thomas) about ten other CRU members. Per Arizona law, precinct committeemen aid their party in voter registration, assist voters of their party on Election Day, and may perform other functions called for through the bylaws of their party. In short, they are now better-positioned to exert pressure on the Arizona Republican Party.

And currently, it is election-related politics (and paranoia) that is energizing their movement.

The early election protests in Arizona were largely fueled and promoted through the social media accounts of Cernovich, Malkin, Rep. Gosar, and Trickovic.

click to enlarge Marko Trickovic, right-wing realtor and the genius behind “Sharpiegate.” - FACEBOOK
Marko Trickovic, right-wing realtor and the genius behind “Sharpiegate.”
It was Trickovic — previously of Arizonans for Liberty, the Ducey recall effort, and the Demand Daniel campaign — who was the primary source of Facebook posts made on the evening of November 3 that falsely claimed Republican votes were being invalidated due to the use of Sharpie markers at Maricopa County polling places.

This became the baseless “Sharpiegate” election conspiracy echoed through right-wing media, and parroted by those closest to President Trump.

On November 4, Douglas Harding — the right-wing activist Hobbs says is at the root of much of the harassment aimed at her and her husband — posted to social media a video in which he laid out his case for a “mass exodus” of “patriots” from the GOP to the Patriot Party of Arizona.

He addressed his comments to the Arizona Republican Party, saying, “Not only did you fail at that one job, to get the one person [McSally] elected that we really need in the state, you can’t even control the election. It’s because the other side doesn’t fear you. The other side doesn’t think that you know how to play dirty. The other side isn’t scared of what you will do when they try to run you over. I’ll be honest: You guys are weak. I’m not the first person to say it. There’s a new party that’s starting with 100,000 people already, because you blew the primaries. You backed one person and lost. You got tromp — you got stomped, actually. That is all I need to know.”

Asked about Harding’s relationship to the Patriot Party, Daniels, the PAC’s chair, stated that Harding has no “formal role/relationship with the Party at this time,” though he declined to comment further on harassment or threatening statements made by Harding or others associated with the Patriot Party toward public officials. McCarthy, for his part, grudgingly admitted to New Times that he “knows” Harding, though he declined to comment further.

During a December 1 meeting of the Patriot Party of Arizona, livestreamed on Facebook, Daniels stated plainly that the election was a “coup” and that members needed to contact state lawmakers and tell them to de-certify the election results or appoint pro-Trump electoral college electors. “Because if you don’t, you’re guilty of treason. And you know what the penalty for treason is, and the people will hold you accountable.” (The maximum penalty for treason under federal law is death.)

Treason has also lately been on the mind of McCarthy, who since the election has been promoting “Stop the Steal” rallies like the November 7 one held at the Arizona State Capitol where he called the election a “CIA-level attack on your country” perpetrated by communists.

“It’s time now that you have to understand that we have to fight. No more games. Listen: The Republican Party, folks, has failed you. The Republican Party is fake. The media is fake. They own both parties. They own the media, they own everything. They own your technology! It’s a uni-party system,” bellowed McCarthy.

He went on to declare that President-Elect Joe Biden had committed treason and would never be recognized in Arizona.

Someone in the crowd shouted, “Executions!”

McCarthy continued: “This is not a game any more. Hey, I’m not kidding you. Remember what I said: When you’re done with this event, you need to go home, look at yourself in the mirror and say, ‘What are you willing to do to make sure your children do not live in communism?’ What are you willing to do? I can tell you right now, I’m willing to do anything. Give me liberty or give me death — mark my words!”

Asked two weeks later by New Times what he meant by those last few sentences — whether he was calling for revolutionary bloodshed — McCarthy’s mood darkened.

“I was quoting history, man, I was quoting history,” said McCarthy, alluding to the American Revolution.
Pressed, he said: “Well, I think that the challenge with answering your question — which is a loaded question — is answering it in such a way that matches what the circumstances are. We don’t know right now. All we know is, potentially, very large crimes were committed. If those crimes were committed by a foreign country — or if those crimes were committed by people inside of our country, Americans — those are things we have to discover. Once we know those things, then our actions would have to meet the crime.”

McCarthy’s former campaign strategist, Stacy Gentile, was more direct about his political desires. In late November, he posted a photo to the Patriot Party of Arizona’s social media pages depicting a number of people hanging from a gallows. The implication was clear: A death sentence ought to be levied against “treasonous” officeholders associated with the 2020 election.

Alerted to the post, Hobbs called it “deeply troubling.”

“I am asking elected officials and other leaders to help tamp down this dangerous rhetoric,” Hobbs said.

But the rhetoric only continues to escalate. At the December 1 Patriot Party meeting, strategies in “psychological warfare” were discussed. The value of “fear” was an underlying theme of the conversation. At one point, Daniels held forth on his strategy for intimidating state lawmakers into either decertifying the election or appointing pro-Trump electors.

“I’ll sit there and tell them, ‘You’re going to do this,’” Daniels told the group. “I say, ‘Look, I’ve got people calling me all day, saying, ‘We need Steve to go show up at their house and drag them out.’ I tell them to stand down. I say, ‘We can’t do that at this point. But, at a certain point, I can’t tell people to stand down; they’re not going to listen to me.’ And then you see the look on their face: It’s fear.”

Daniels continued: “And they’re sittin’ there, saying, ‘Well, you come after my family…’ And I say, ‘I’m not coming after anybody’s family. I’m telling you what other people are telling me.’ Because they are. People are calling me. We literally have people saying ‘When are we just gonna go show up?’ And I’m not gonna condone that. But I also am not gonna tell people not to do it, because that’s their choice.’

“And I tell these representatives that. They get very uncomfortable.”
KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Beau Hodai