Arizona Democratic state Rep. César Chávez has filed an ethics complaint seeking the expulsion of his colleague, GOP Rep. Mark Finchem, for being present near the U.S. Capitol the day the Jan. 6 riot took place.
Finchem was slated to be a speaker at the “Stop the Steal” rally outside of the Capitol, which was to begin at 1 p.m. on that day, but President Donald Trump’s speech at the Ellipse near the White House went long, the Republican said in a statement.
When Finchem reached the speakers’ area for the rally around 1:55 p.m., “I was told by the event organizer that the speaking engagement was cancelled,” he recounted.
“I stayed there for about 20 minutes, took a few photos and left the area,” the lawmaker added.
— Mark Finchem (@MarkFinchem) January 6, 2021
Finchem says that he did not even learn of the incursion into the Capitol until around 5 p.m., or approximately three hours after the breach occurred, according to his statement.
“Media reports that I was ‘leading the march’ or somehow ‘leading an assault on the Capitol’ are wildly fictitious and a slanderous fabrication,” Finchem said. “The closest I ever came to the Capitol building was about 500 yards away.”
“From where I was positioned, I saw a crowd of people standing on the Capitol steps, looking away from the building, out over the plaza,” he continued. “It appeared they were more interested in a photo op than anything else. They did not appear hostile, nor did they appear disrespectful, quite the opposite. Police officers were actually directing people past the barricades.”
Why did police open gates for this mob to enter Capitol grounds? pic.twitter.com/dqWhdEShHQ
— Leslie Cidale (@LeslieCidale) January 6, 2021
In his Jan. 13 ethics complaint, Chávez alleges Finchem’s mere presence at the rally is reason enough for his expulsion.
The Democrat stated that Finchem encouraged “armed insurrectionists had descended en mass to attack and kidnap election members of Congress and the Vice President of the United States.”
“These domestic terrorists did not like the outcome of the free and fair election in November 3, 2020, and rather than simply protesting the election outcome — political speech that is protected by the First Amendment — they stormed the Capitol building, killing one police officer and injuring countless others …”
“And all the while, Representative Finchem was there encouraging their efforts and was even scheduled to speak at the rally. Such behavior makes him unfit for office,” Chávez wrote.
BREAKING: Read Rep. @CesarChavezAZ’s ethics complaint regarding Rep. Mark Finchem’s alleged violation of his oath of office by attending & supporting the Jan. 6 insurrection in Washington DC. #azleg pic.twitter.com/bIUjsFITp0
— Arizona House Democrats (@AZHouseDems) January 14, 2021
He pointed to Finchem’s oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and that document’s 14th Amendment, Section 3, which bars “a member of any State legislature” from holding office if they engaged in “insurrection or rebellion.”
Chávez went on to describe Finchem’s planned participation in the rally as being party to an “insurrection” and an “attempted coup.”
Chávez called on Arizona’s House Ethics Committee to conduct a full investigation into the matter and recommend expulsion if Finchem did support the violent overthrow of the government.
Working in Finchem’s defense would be President Donald Trump’s statement during his Jan. 6 speech to protesters saying they should “peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”
Hundreds of thousands of people apparently understood that was what they were there to do, because only a small fraction of them entered the Capitol and an even smaller number engaged in violence.
Chávez offered no evidence that Finchem either entered the Capitol or encouraged people to do so, much less engage in violence.
By the Republican’s account, he was not aware of the incursion until hours after it happened.
Chávez also signed onto a letter, co-signed by dozens of other Arizona Democrat lawmakers, calling on the FBI and Department of Justice to investigate Finchem, along with Arizona Republican Congressmen Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar, for possibly helping plan the “anti-democratic insurrection on January 6.”
Finchem oversaw an election integrity hearing in late November for Arizona lawmakers during which former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and members of his Trump legal team presented issues they said called for further review regarding the Grand Canyon state’s presidential election.
The presentation focused heavily on the use of Dominion voting machines in the state and the potential for the manipulation of election results.
Among the claims presented was the account of an anonymous whistleblower stating 35,000 votes had been added to Democrat Joe Biden’s tally electronically.
The Arizona Secretary of State’s official tally has Democrat Joe Biden defeating President Donald Trump by 10,457 votes.
The Arizona Senate issued subpoenas last month calling for an audit of Maricopa County’s Dominion voting machines and ballot images for anomalies, but so far the county’s board of supervisors has refused to comply.
Finchem said he was in Washington to seek a delay in certifying the Electoral College results until a forensic audit could be conducted in Maricopa County, which is the state’s most populous, encompassing the Phoenix metropolitan area.