Ron Watkins files an ethics complaint against Wendy Rogers, alleging she put his life in danger

By: - June 13, 2022 4:26 pm

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Ron Watkins, the man purported to be an architect of the QAnon conspiracy theory, filed an ethics complaint against Republican state Sen. Wendy Rogers for a post she made about him on social media.

Watkins’ complaint stems from a February post by Rogers on Telegram, an encrypted messaging app favored by conservatives, in which she asked the “Groyper army” to “hit” Watkins. 

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Rogers was asking her fans and allies in the “groyper army” to go after the QAnon conspiracy theorist turned Congressional candidate because he had alleged Rogers, a Flagstaff Republican who has built her political brand on spreading lies about the 2020 election, was involved in some sort of “backroom deal” that was preventing some equipment from being examined for alleged election fraud. There is no evidence of such a backroom deal.

The self-styled online “army” that Rogers sought to rally to her aid is a collection of white nationalists who favor online trolling tactics. Their goals broadly include normalizing their extreme and racist views by aligning them with Christianity and so-called “traditional” values. 

“I wish to submit a formal ethics complaint and ask that you commence an ethics investigation into Senator Wendy Rogers to determine whether she is fit for service to the people of Arizona due to a pattern of behavior that is unbecoming of a Senator,” Watkins wrote in an email to Ethics Committee Chairwoman Sine Kerr that was also sent to the other 29 senators. “I have been included in her online attacks and will list the details here, along with a history of actions that call into question her ability to faithfully execute her duties in a way that brings honor to the State of Arizona.” 

Watkins initially filed the complaint as an email, not as a signed and notarized letter as required by the rules of the Senate Ethics Committee. He has since submitted a complaint that follows those guidelines, he told the Arizona Mirror.

Watkins’ complaint alleges that, in trying to mobilize the “groyper army,” Rogers put his life in danger because of his Asian-American heritage and because “someone in this group would interpret this post to mean a ‘hit’ on my life.”

The complaint also mentions Rogers’ other ethics complaints that have been brought against her including her comments about the Buffalo shooting, a former staffer she allegedly mistreated, her censure and her antisemitic social media posts

Although he said in the complaint that he was fearful of the groypers, Watkins has repeatedly associated with prominent Arizona groypers. For instance, Kyle Clifton, who has promoted white nationalist Nick Fuentes as well as used the Neo-Nazi term “blood and soil” in Instagram posts, has posed alongside Watkins for photos. 

Clifton, along with anti-LGBTQ activist Ethan Schmidt, both joined Watkins to file a frivolous lawsuit against Gov. Doug Ducey for his “failure to protect the border.” They were joined by a woman who believes AIDS is a hoax and the Earth is flat

Watkins was also interviewed by groyper Greyson Arnold, who has used his social media pages to post memes lauding Nazis as the “pure race” and lament the American victory in World War II. He also called Adolf Hitler a “complicated historical figure,” and was present at the U.S. Capitol insurrection on January 6.

Watkins has boosted the Telegram accounts of both Arnold and Clifton. Before all three were banned from Twitter, he also boosted their Twitter accounts. 

Before QAnon, many came to associate Watkins with an online image board called 8chan, which was later renamed 8kun. Watkins didn’t create the site — its founder was Fredrick Brennan, who would later cut ties with the website — but he became its administrator after his father, Jim Watkins, purchased it.

The site has become a hotbed for hosting extremist and illicit content. It has hosted child porn, and white supremacist mass shooters have used it as a platform to spread their manifestos.  

The Christchurch shooter in New Zealand said that he frequented the 4chan and 8chan message boards where far-right and white supremacist rhetoric was prevalent, and directly linked to other real-life hate crimes. The website also promoted antisemitism, at one point creating a cryptocurrency for users to boost their posts with a program they called “King of the Shekel.” 

Watkins did not respond to questions about his interactions with Arizona groypers. Rogers did not respond to a request for comment about the complaint by Watkins. 

Six days prior to Watkins filing his complaint, Rogers and Rep. Mark Finchem both endorsed Watkins’ opponent, Eli Crane, in the primary election. 

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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joins the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. Jerod has also won awards for his documentary films which have covered issues such as religious tolerance and surveillance technology used by police. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.

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