Arizona Senate has censured Wendy Rogers with 24-3 vote

Arizona's Family Political Editor Dennis Welch tried to speak with Wendy Rogers Monday, but she...
Arizona's Family Political Editor Dennis Welch tried to speak with Wendy Rogers Monday, but she declined.(Arizona's Family)
Published: Mar. 1, 2022 at 1:28 PM MST|Updated: Mar. 1, 2022 at 3:11 PM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – The Arizona Senate voted 24-3 Tuesday to censure Republican Wendy Rogers over a speech during which she said her political opponents should hang. The three votes against censuring Rogers were from Republicans. Three senators -- two Republicans and a Democrat -- did not vote.

Voted against censureDid not vote
Nancy Barto (R, LD 15)David Gowan (R, LD 14)
Warren Petersen (R, LD 12)Victoria Steele (D, LD 9, Minority Whip)
Wendy Rogers (R, LD 6)Kelly Townsend (R, LD 16)

When given a chance to explain her vote, Rogers cited freedom of speech. “Freedom of speech is one of the most precious rights we have under heaven,” she said. “This censure is nothing more than an attempt to limit my speech.” She said represents hundreds of thousands of people, the “majority” of whom “are with me and want me to be their voice.”

“You are really censuring them,” she continued before taking a swipe at Senate leaders. “I do not apologize. And I will not back down. And I am sorely disappointed in the leadership of this body for colluding with the Democrats to attempt to destroy my reputation.”

Senate President Karen Fann, also a Republican, shot down Rogers’ freedom of speech argument right before voting closed. “This is not about freedom of speech,” she said. “God knows, everybody has that right, and we should protect that right to its fullest. But that does not give you leeway to threaten people or say whatever you want and then claim it’s under freedom of speech. We, as elected officials, are held to a higher standard,” Fann also said the decision has nothing to do with party politics. “This is not a Democrat or Republican thing. ... It pains us to have to do this.”

Arizona Senate President Karen Fann explains her vote to censure Wendy Rogers

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey released a statement in response to the Senate’s vote, but never included or mentioned Roger’s by name:

“Anti-Semitic and hateful language has no place in Arizona. I have categorically condemned it in the past and condemn it now. I strongly believe our public policy debates should be about creating opportunity for all and making our state a better place, not denigrating and insulting any individual or group. I believe the vote taken today by the Arizona Senate sends a clear message: rhetoric like this is unacceptable. These are incredibly divided times, but picking a side in the fight to protect western democracy is an easy call. It’s Putin versus freedom. I will always side with freedom. I believe any statement supporting Russia’s actions in Ukraine is not only ill-advised, but wrong and dangerous.”

Why the censure?

There were rumblings of a censure ahead of Tuesday afternoon’s vote “We’re talking about that,” Rep. Rick Gray, the second-highest-ranking Republican in the state Senate, told Arizona’s Family Monday. “We’re discussing that.”

Rogers is no stranger to controversy, but this is the first time she’s facing punishment by her own party. At issue is a speech to the America First Political Action Conference last week. “If we try some of these high-level criminals, convict them, and use a newly built set of gallows, it’ll make an example … [unintelligible under applause], …. They have yet to be justly punished for the crimes they have committed.”

She also praised the AFPAC founder Nick Fuentes, saying she respects him because he “is the most persecuted man in America.” The Anti-Defamation League calls him a white supremacist leader. AFPAC is an annual gathering of white nationalists and those whose political ideologies fall on the far right of the spectrum. Congressman Paul Gosar spoke at last year’s event.

“I think she certainly associated herself with white nationalists,” Sen. Paul Boyer, also a Republican and not shy about calling out his colleagues, told Arizona’s Family. “She speaks their language. She appeals to them.” Boyer does not share her position. “They are disgusting,” he said. “They have no place in politics, in civil society – they’re ridiculous.”

AZ state senator says political opponents should hang

The Arizona Senate is slated to vote on censuring Republican Wendy Rogers over a speech during which she said her political opponents should hang.

On her Twitter profile, Rogers describes herself as “Conservative America First Pro-Trump Republican in #LD.” In posts over the past few days, Rogers accuses people of gaslighting her and vowed to fight back. “I will personally destroy the career of any Republican who partakes in the gaslighting of me simply because of the color of my skin or opinion about a war I don’t want to send our kids to die in.”

Sen. Wendy Rogers in hot seat after controversial comments

Senator Wendy Rogers is in the hot seat after speaking to a right-wing conference with ties to white nationalists

Final vote -- 24 ayes, 3 nays, 3 not voting

With a 24-3 vote, the Arizona Senate has censured Wendy Rogers. Three senators did not vote.
With a 24-3 vote, the Arizona Senate has censured Wendy Rogers. Three senators did not vote.(ACTV)

What does a censure mean? What happens to the person censured?

“Less severe than expulsion, a censure (sometimes referred to as condemnation or denouncement) does not remove a senator from office,” explains Senate.gov. “It is a formal statement of disapproval, however, that can have a powerful psychological effect on a member and his/her relationships in the Senate.”