Bowers testimony shows democracy is under threat, group says

KOLD News 6-6:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 7:15 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - An Arizona group called Project Defend Democracy says the testimony of Arizona lawmaker Rusty Bowers before the January 6th Select Committee shows that democracy in America is in danger.

“If people are watching, they can’t help but understand how close we were to this attack on our democracy succeeding,” said Rick Unkelsbay, a former prosecutor with the Pima County Attorney’s office.

Bowers testified that he was pressured by former President Donald Trump and his campaign staff to overthrow the 2020 election results by appointing a fake set of Arizona electors.

Bowers refused to do so saying he was standing up for the constitutional principals he was sworn to uphold adding “I do not want to be a winner by cheating.”

Project Defend Democracy says Bowers was the only thing in Arizona protecting democratic principals.

“Here was a man who is a staunch Republican but in the face of enormous pressure from the President of the United States he stood his ground,” Unkelsbay said. “He did his job, his testimony was so impactful, his testimony was so powerful.”

It was doing that job which earned Bowers a great deal of respect nationwide with many people calling him a hero. But he also said he would vote for Trump if he ran again which earned him the ire of many who earlier praised him.

The project says Bowers has no choice.

“If you want to win a Republican primary anywhere in the country, you need to fall in line with Trump’s talking points and if you don’t you’re going to lose,” said Aaron Marquez, a spokesman for Vets Forward. “But in order for him to win his primary, he has to say that.”

That fealty to party is one of the concerns for democracy advocates say and is a threat.

Dan Barr, a civil attorney in Phoenix says five Republicans running for Attorney General are all election deniers and “that’s stunning.” It’s also a threat to democratic principals.

“So what we see is really how fragile democracy is,” Barr said. “That in the end it was dependent on people like Rusty Bowers.”

Bowers implicated others in Arizona who were involved in the fake electors ruse but so far none has been investigated which Unkelsbay believes should be done here.

“There is no reason Arizona, the Attorney General’s office couldn’t empanel a special grand jury to investigate allegations, the testimony of Rusty Bowers to see if there was a conspiracy to thwart the electoral process,” Unkelsbay said.

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