Outraged conservatives have been calling and threatening the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office in response to a three-year-old tweet from Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, leading the office to contact the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center and redirect all callers to an automated answering system.
But Hobbs said she won’t apologize for the tweet, which was critical of President Donald Trump’s refusal to denounce neo-Nazi supporters.
In 2017, when Hobbs was Democratic leader of the Arizona Senate, she tweeted about Trump’s comments following the deadly white supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., after which a neo-Nazi fatally struck a protester with his vehicle.
Trump refused to condemn neo-Nazis and other white supremacist groups for several days, instead saying there were “very fine people on both sides” of the protest. He eventually did condemn the actions of Nazis at Charlottesville.
— Katie Hobbs (@katiehobbs) August 15, 2017
“@realDonaldTrump has made it abundantly clear he’s more interested in pandering to his neo-nazi base than being @POTUS for all Americans,” Hobbs said in the tweet which has now garnered over 775 retweets and over 3,000 quote tweets.
The tweet was resurfaced this week by right-wing social media personalities, who have used it to discredit Arizona’s election of Joe Biden for president. Many have wrongly claimed that Hobbs is responsible for counting the state’s votes; in fact, election officials in all 15 counties do that.
“Arizona Secretary of State. Bias much?” wrote Ian Miles Cheong in a tweet with over 1,500 retweets. Cheong is a member of the alt-right who actually framed the wrong person for the murder of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville and is no stranger to disinformation.
Some Arizona elected officials have even shared it, as well. Legislators like Rep. Travis Grantham, R-Gilbert, and Sen.-elect Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, have cited the tweet as justification for an audit and recount of every Arizona ballot. The Arizona Republican Party has shared a photo on its Facebook page, calling Hobbs “Crazy Katie.”
Hobbs said she stands by her 2017 sentiment that Trump displayed lack of leadership in the wake of what happened in Charlottesville.
“My tweet was not directed at all conservatives, it was not directed at all the president’s supporters,” Hobbs told Arizona Mirror, dismissing the outrage over “a three-year-old tweet.”
“I’m not questioning people’s concerns of perception of bias,” Hobbs said, adding that she knows she is unlikely to sway those who have likely made up their minds about her. “I took an oath to uphold the laws and the Constitution of Arizona and the United States of America and my personal views have not interfered with my job for the state of Arizona.”
Hobbs said that her office has received an influx of “abusive” calls, including threats that have been reported to the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center.
“As chief elections officer, I have restrained myself many, many times,” Hobbs said about giving her opinion on national politics, noting that previous Arizona secretaries of state have been directly involved in national politics.
Former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett made national headlines in 2012 when he requested additional information to confirm President Barack Obama was born in the United States, drawing criticism for giving credence to the racist birtherism conspiracy theory.