Oro Valley Republican Mark Finchem is asking his followers to give him money so he can pay off the $15,500 he spent to host an unofficial election integrity hearing in November that was attended by Donald Trump’s lead attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and served as a forum for unfounded conspiracy theories and baseless allegations that Joe Biden didn’t really win Arizona’s election.
“The reason that there is a debt is because the House of Representatives did not host the event,” the state legislator said in a video he posted to his Telegram account on Feb. 14, before asking followers to donate to a PayPal account.
Finchem, who has been a key figure in the #StopTheSteal movement, put on the Nov. 30 event at the Hyatt Regency hotel in downtown Phoenix. In addition to Giuliani, one of the speakers at the event was a conspiracy theorist that the Senate wanted to hire to conduct an audit of Maricopa County’s election.
“Look folks, I put everything I have on the line to get to the bottom of the Az Fraud, my name, my finances and my sacred honor,” Finchem wrote to his followers on Telegram, an encrypted messaging app. “I have no idea how much stop the steal raised, I don’t work for them, I work for you.”
Finchem directed his followers both on Telegram and Gab to donate to a PayPal account, which Finchem said was for the Make Arizona Safe Again PAC.
Randy Pullen, the PAC’s treasurer and a former chairman of the Arizona Republican Party, told the Arizona Mirror that Finchem has submitted invoices to the PAC related to the hearing. The costs were for the Hyatt Regency, where the 10-hour event took place, putting the event on and for travel expenses for attendees, most of which came out of Finchem’s pocket, according to Pullen. He said none of the costs are for attorneys.
Pullen said that the travel expenses were “not necessarily” for Guiliani and that he’d have to check invoices to know for certain. He said any money spent to cover Finchem’s expenses would be an “in-kind contribution” to his legislative campaign committee. Pullen also defended the expenses that Finchem submitted.
“If there was anything that was inappropriate, I would’ve talked with him,” Pullen said.
Finchem’s followers from across the country have been donating, many in small $10 or $20 amounts, although Finchem said that there has been one donation of $3,000.
As of Feb. 16, Finchem said he has raised more than $12,000. He has also begun accepting money through Venmo, according to his posts on Telegram.
Finchem did not respond to a request for comment.