TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Republican Arizona state lawmaker Mark Finchem (R-Dist 11) has come under fire for his role in the assault on the US Capitol in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021.
Finchem posted several tweets and retweeted others showing he was at the event although he denies he participated in the breech of the Capitol.
But some Democratic lawmakers say his support for the protest which turned violent is enough to question his ability to serve.
“Anytime you have a member take an oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution who takes action against that oath, that is extremely serious,” said Reginald Bolding, Jr., the Arizona House Minority Leader. “So no options are off the table.”
Andres Cano, who represents District 3 in the House said lawmakers will likely decide what action they will take “on Wednesday or Thursday.”
He said there are likely three options. Expulsion, censure or investigation as to whether he had a role in planning or participating in the protest.
“I think the one thing that is certain right now is that this will not go unresponded to, this will be addressed,” said Senate Minority Whip, Victoria Steele. “This is a very serious situation.”
Finchem released a statement defending his decision to attend the protest and says he did nothing wrong.
STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Representative Mark Finchem (R-11) today released the following statement:
“Regarding my presence in Washington, D.C. from January 5 to 8, I flew to Washington, D.C. to deliver an evidence book and letter to Vice President Pence showing key evidence of fraud in the Arizona Presidential Election, and asking him to consider postponing the award of electors until such time as due process in the court had concluded or a forensic audit had been done on the Maricopa County ballot images and election processing equipment. Both matters are the subject of Arizona Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenas.
“I was scheduled to visit with Congressmen from Arizona, and I was invited to speak at a permitted event scheduled for January 6th to be held on the steps of the Capitol. The event was planned to begin at 1:00 pm, coinciding with the joint session to hear objections from the states in controversy involving the Electoral College Electors. However, the President’s speech at the ellipse went long, so I was late to the Capitol grounds. I walked at the rear of the crowd that made its way down Pennsylvania Avenue.
“Several legislators from the states that congressmen that planned to object were also a part of the event schedule. Arriving at the Capitol grounds at about 1:45 pm EST, I made my way to the speakers’ area at about 1:55 pm EST, went to the speakers’ collection area on the Supreme Court side of the Capitol. On arrival, I was told by the event organizer that the speaking engagement was cancelled. I stayed there for about 20 minutes, took a few photos and left the area.
“I did not learn of the Capitol penetration until shortly before 5:00 pm EST when I was about to record a podcast interview. I was told that individuals believed to be Antifa had breached an area of the Capitol building that was out of my view, around the corner from where I was located. I have since been told by investigators, that through the use of facial recognition software, the Antifa link was confirmed.
“Media reports that I was ‘leading the march’ or somehow ‘leading an assault on the Capitol’ are wildly fictitious and a slanderous fabrication. The closest I ever came to the Capitol building was about 500 yards away. The fact that I was late to the venue by over an hour destroys the hyperbolic assertion that I was in any way a leader of the event.
“From where I was positioned, I saw a crowd of people standing on the Capitol steps, looking away from the building, out over the plaza. It appeared they were more interested in a photo op than anything else. They did not appear hostile, nor did they appear disrespectful, quite the opposite. Police officers were actually directing people past the barricades. The doors of the Capitol that were breached were on the other side of the building.
“It is of course tragic that individuals positively identified as Antifa infiltrators, entered the building by force, and that an Air Force veteran was shot and killed by a Capitol security officer. I have been outspoken against violence for years. To connect my presence to speak in the company of other elected officials at a properly permitted public event at the Capitol event with ‘leading an insurrection,’ or that walking with the crowd to the Capitol can be construed as anything other than an exercise of my First Amendment right to free speech it is utterly absurd.”
But despite the statement, in which he continues to blame Antifa despite evidence to the contrary, shows he’s still displaying actions counter to his oath according to the lawmakers.
“We have been inundated with phone calls and emails from constituents demanding there be accountability,” said Senate Majority Leader Rebecca Rios. “Clearly it was the most un-American behavior you could ever display.”
Many lawmakers say their preferred option is to take his seat away.
“All options are on the table,” said Steele. “And I would say that includes expulsion.”
Steele, who serves in the Senate, said she will support the final decision of the House members.
“When a state legislator participates in any way in an insurrection of the federal government, a violent overthrow of the government, that person needs to be held accountable,” Steele said.