Anthony Kern, R-Glendale, at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Screenshot via YouTube.
An Arizona GOP legislator who was among the rioting crowds at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, is facing a campaign finance complaint alleging that he illegally used cash from a failed re-election bid to attend the insurrection.
The complaint against Sen. Anthony Kern, R-Glendale claims that Kern improperly used campaign funds from his failed 2020 re-election to travel to Washington, D.C., to attend the events of Jan. 6, 2021, including airfare and a hotel stay.
“These travel expenses occurred during the same time that Senator Kern traveled to Washington, D.C. for a rally at the United State Capitol on January 6, 2021 – a rally that ultimately turned violent and led to the death of seven people,” the complaint filed with the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office by Peoria resident Josh Gray says.
On Jan. 4 Kern reported an expenditure for $980.96 for “Travel – lodging” and a $478 expenditure on Jan. 5 for an airline ticket. On Jan. 11, Kern reported an expenditure of $436.74 for travel and lodging at a Hyatt hotel.
Kern was present at the Capitol, and photos and video showed him in various locations around the exterior of the building after protesters had overrun the complex, stormed the building and sent lawmakers fleeing for safety. He has said that he did not breach the Capitol, and there is no footage or other evidence suggesting he did.
“Setting aside the violent and undemocratic nature of the January 6 rally at the United States Capitol, the use of campaign funds for personal travel expenses violates Arizona’s campaign finance laws,” the complaint says.
Arizona campaign finance law says that candidates cannot use campaign cash for activities unrelated to winning their elections. The complaint argues that Kern’s attendance at the rally two months after he had already lost his election constitutes a personal use.
“At that point, any remaining monies in his campaign coffers would be considered surplus campaign monies, which Arizona law clearly states, ‘may not be used or converted for personal use,’” the complaint says. “And while Kern for Senate reported receiving the surplus transfer in January 2021, it is clear that the funds were not transferred to the new committee until after Senator Kern’s trip to Washington, D.C. Indeed, Kern for Senate was not even formed until May 2021.”
Kern did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
If the secretary of state believes Kern likely violated campaign finance law, the complaint will be sent to the Attorney General’s Office to determine if the law was broken. If the AG decides that Kern violated the law, he must “take corrective action within twenty days” or face a penalty that can be appealed to the superior court, per Arizona law.
The day before Jan. 6, Kern rallied outside the Capitol with a who’s who of Stop the Steal personas, including the movement’s ringleader, Ali Alexander, and election fraud conspiracy promoter Mike Lindell, the CEO of MyPillow.
“In Arizona, there is a brave man that I am trying to convince to run for state senate or Congress, Anthony Kern,” Alexander said before Kern took the stage as rain poured down on Jan. 5.
“Mitch McConnell, I am not worried about optics here today,” Kern told the crowd before speaking about abortion and comparing the situation to the invasion of Normandy in World War II. “We will not allow the vote to be stolen from our duly elected president.”
There is no evidence that fraud or malfeasance affected the outcome of the presidential election.
On Jan. 6, Kern tweeted in the morning before Trump’s speech and did not tweet again until 3 p.m. That tweet was an image of the Capitol steps, overtaken by protesters.
Images circulated online showing Kern among those protesters on the steps. He later mocked some of his critics on Twitter.
“You ok @AzHouseDems? Want me to call the police?” he tweeted on April 19, responding to criticism by the Arizona House Democratic caucus after news broke that Kern was working on the Arizona audit.
Kern has been a proponent of the “#StopTheSteal” movement since the election, using the hashtag 17 times on Twitter from November through Jan. 6.
“D-Day in DC to support Arizona’s and America’s duly elected President Donald Trump! #StoptheSteal,” Kern tweeted on Jan. 6 around 10 a.m. with a picture of the stage where Trump would soon speak.
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