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Leading proponent of election fraud conspiracy theories wants to oversee Arizona elections

By: - March 29, 2021 4:00 pm
Mark Finchem

Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Oro Valley. Screenshot via YouTube

State Rep. Mark Finchem, one of the legislature’s leading proponents of the baseless allegations and conspiracy theories claiming former President Donald Trump was cheated out of the 2020 election, is running to be Arizona’s top elections official.

Finchem filed a statement of interest on Monday to run for secretary of state in 2022.

The Oro Valley Republican has repeatedly made headlines over the past few months for his role in the “Stop the Steal” movement that sought to overturn President Joe Biden’s win in last year’s election and install the defeated Trump for another term as president.

Finchem was at the Washington, D.C., rally on Jan. 6 whose attendees later participated in the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol. There is no evidence that he took part in the melee and he has repeatedly said he did not enter the building and remained outside the Capitol, though text messages show he was in communication with rally organizer Ali Alexander. He did praise the rioters on social media, tweeting that that is “What happens when the People feel they have been ignored, and Congress refuses to acknowledge rampant fraud.” 

Democratic lawmakers asked the FBI to investigate whether he had any role in the riot and unsuccessfully pushed for his expulsion from the Arizona House of Representatives. Dozens of ethics complaints were also filed against Finchem related to the Jan. 6 insurrection, all of which were dismissed. He filed a counter-complaint against the Democratic lawmakers, which was also dismissed, and has since filed a defamation lawsuit against Rep. Charlene Fernandez, D-Yuma.

He has also been a leading purveyor of bogus claims that Biden and the Democrats rigged the election in Arizona and other other swing states that Trump lost. He organized a November hearing at the Hyatt Regency hotel in downtown Phoenix in which Trump campaign attorney Rudy Giuliani and others touted false and unverified claims about the election.

Finchem publicly endorsed the possibility, ruled out by legislative leadership and staff, that the legislature could somehow revoke Biden’s win in Arizona and award the state’s 11 electoral votes to Trump. In November, he wrote on his since-deleted Twitter account, “AZ Legislature must be called back into special session to hold a hearing, take evidence and make a decision on whether fraud corrupted our 2020 elections. It is our Article II Section 1 plenary duty to act.”

After a court ruled that Senate President Karen Fann had the authority to subpoena ballots and tabulation machines from the general election in Maricopa County, Finchem alleged, without any evidence whatsoever, that the county’s Board of Supervisors might have destroyed evidence of election fraud in advance of an audit that Fann has planned.

Finchem’s participation in the Stop the Steal movement and his promotion of election fraud conspiracy theories led Democrats to launch a recall campaign against him.

Finchem was first elected to the legislature and represents Legislative District 11, which covers northern Pima County and parts of Pinal County. He moved to Arizona in 1999 from Kalamazoo, Mich., where he worked as a police officer. He has worked as a Realtor since 2016. 

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, the Democratic incumbent, is eligible to run for re-election next year, but is widely expected to run for governor instead, leaving what will likely be an open race to be Arizona’s top elections official and first in the line of succession for governor. Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale, is also expected to seek the GOP nomination for secretary of state.

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Jeremy Duda
Jeremy Duda

Jeremy Duda is a Phoenix native and began his career in journalism in 2003 after graduating from the University of Arizona. Jeremy Duda previously served as the Mirror's associate Editor. Prior to joining the Arizona Mirror, he worked at the Arizona Capitol Times, where he spent eight years covering the Governor's Office and two years as editor of the Yellow Sheet Report. Before that, he wrote for the Hobbs News-Sun of Hobbs, NM, and the Daily Herald of Provo, Utah. Jeremy is also the author of the history book “If This Be Treason: the American Rogues and Rebels Who Walked the Line Between Dissent and Betrayal.”