GOP refuses to do anything about lawmakers who were at Capitol riot

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Republican-controlled state legislatures are refusing to hold their own members accountable.

Republican legislatures across the country are refusing to hold GOP state lawmakers accountable for their roles in the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 that left five people dead.

According to the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, a number of Republican lawmakers either attended Donald Trump's so-called "Save America" rally ahead of the Capitol riot or participated in it themselves. During that rally, Trump famously egged on his supporters to "take back our country" and "stop the steal," referring to President Joe Biden's 2020 election victory, and encouraged them to march on the Capitol, even suggesting he might join them in their march.

Trump was later impeached for a second time over those actions, though Congress voted to acquit him, with GOP senators insisting he was not responsible for inciting the insurrection, despite several rioters arguing that Trump had "invited" them to the Capitol that day.

Republicans at the state level have also refused to hold their own accountable.

In the GOP-controlled Arizona Legislature, the head of the House Ethics Committee Rep. Becky Nutt on Friday dismissed all 82 complaints against Republican state Rep. Mark Finchem without any investigations or hearings.

Finchem previously claimed to be affiliated with the far-right anti-government group the Oath Keepers, who were part of the Jan. 6 riots. Finchem was at the Capitol that day and shared images of the rioters, though he claimed he did not enter the building.

The Trump campaign reportedly paid Finchem more than $6,000 in December to aid Trump's efforts to overturn his presidential election loss in the state.

Nutt has stood by her decision to not proceed with complaints against Finchem, saying, "The complaints amount to an objection to Rep. Finchem’s advocacy of controversial political opinions. But the ethics committee is not — and cannot become — a forum for resolving political disagreements, no matter how important the issues at stake."

In Pennsylvania, Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who pushed the very debunked election fraud conspiracies that fueled the Jan. 6 riots, used campaign funds for buses to transport Trump supporters from the state to the U.S. Capitol the day of the attack, according to the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. Mastriano himself was also in attendance at the demonstrations but claimed he left after witnessing violence, the DLCC noted.

In the GOP-controlled Pennsylvania General Assembly, the paper reported that Republican leadership "did not have a position on internal disciplinary actions" in the days following the Jan. 6 riots, while House and Senate Republicans said Democratic calls and efforts to hold Mastriano accountable were "nothing more than political showboating." In comments to the paper, a House Republican caucus spokesman said the Democrats were mounting a "campaign-minded political stunt," and a Senate Republican spokeswoman said Democrats "are trying to cling to the past" after losing seats.

In Michigan, where the Legislature is similarly controlled by Republicans, GOP Rep. Matt Maddock and his wife, who both attended the demonstrations in D.C., were able to get away without punishment, despite Maddock speaking the rally beforehand. Democratic state representatives introduced two resolutions, one for his censure and another for an investigation into his role for the Capitol insurrection, according to a local affiliate. But the House GOP punted.

"The Speaker has seen no evidence that Rep. Maddock did anything that rises to the level of censure or expulsion. The resolutions will not be brought up for a vote," said the House GOP's communications director, in a statement.

In West Virginia, where Republicans control the state's legislature, Wood County's state Sen. Mike Azinger attended the Jan. 6 demonstrations, with a picture showing him outside the Capitol building, according to the DLCC. But Wood County Republican Chair and state Del. Roger Conley defended Azinger, refusing to reprimand him following the riots, saying, "We all have the right to peaceful protest. Sen. Azinger also has that right."

"The senator being in Washington to support our president and his party in no way makes him a participant in the alleged criminal activity at the Capitol," Conley added.

And in Texas, pro-Trump state Rep. Kyle Biedermann, part of the GOP-controlled Texas State Legislature, was scrutinized for attending the rally before the riot on Jan. 6. But while the Texas Democratic Party called on their Republican colleagues, as well as Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, to call for Biedermann to resign or be expelled, the GOP chose to stay silent on the matter.

Biedermann has since introduced legislation to pave the way for Texas' secession from the United States.

Democrats say that while the Republican state lawmakers who attended the Capitol events on Jan. 6 have in many cases escaped consequences, voters may not let them off the hook so easily.

"Republican legislators across the country, whether they attended insurrectionist demonstrations or spread blatant lies, are guilty of all-out assault on our democracy, and we won’t let voters forget it," DLCC President Jessica Post said in a statement.

"Enemies of democracy have no business serving in our state legislatures," she added, before noting that "if they had even an ounce of integrity they would resign immediately."

"There can be no unity without accountability," she said.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.