Is Censure Enough? Or Should Arizona Fascist State Senator Wendy Rogers Be Publicly Hung?
Arizona state Senator Wendy Rogers is the penultimate Trump candidate-- and not just because Trump gave her a ringing endorsement nor just because she introduced absurd legislation to make bitcoin legal tender in Arizona. A 68 year old virulently racist Kentuckian member of the Oath Keepers and a confirmed QAnon activist, she represents a big rural swath of central Arizona, portions of Coconino, Gila, Yavapai and Navajo counties. She was elected in 2020 by running as a fascist against a far right conservative incumbent Republican, Sylvia Allen. Among Rogers' heroes are Kyle Rittenauer and Robert E. Lee, both of whose praises she sings publicly. She has also urged rightwing Arizonans who, like her, believe Trump was cheated out of a second term, to "buy more ammo." And apparently he was the crackpot who started claiming that the Trump insurrectionists were Antifa members. She pulled that out of her ass. One of her most recent antics was a bill to make bitcoin legal tender in Arizona, allowing Arizonans to pay debts and taxes using the ersatz, wildly fluctuating "currency." It's an increasingly popular idea on the fringes of the extreme right. And right up her anti-America alley. More recently, this was her invitation to truckers:
She was back in the news yesterday when the Republican-controlled state Senate censured her. Of course, this crackpot wouldn't be censured enough if she was censured weekly. There are 30 members of the Senate-- 16 Republicans (including the nut) and 14 Democrats. 13 Democrats and 11 Republicans voted to censure her. The Arizona Republic reported "It was the first time in three decades senators publicly censured one of their own members, and the move was applauded by Gov. Doug Ducey-- who just days ago was criticized for his support of Rogers."
Rogers spoke at that same gathering of white supremacist fascists in Orlando that Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Marjorie Traitor Greene (R-GA) spoke at. At the conference she called for public hangings: "If we try some of these high-level criminals, convict them, and use a newly built set of gallows, it’ll make an example for these traitors who have betrayed our country. They have yet to be justly punished for the crimes they have committed." And on social media she attacked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, using typical anti-semitic innuendos. Her message to her fellow Republicans in the legislature (via her Telegram account): "So today is the day where we find out if the Communists in the GOP throw the sweet grandma under the bus for being white."
Rogers engaged in “conduct unbecoming of a senator, including publicly issuing and promoting social media and video messages encouraging violence against and punishment of American citizens and making threatening statements declaring 'political destruction' of those who disagree with her views. The senator from District 6 has damaged the reputation of the Arizona state Senate by her actions," Sen. Rick Gray said, reading the censure motion.
It did not include a specific reference to Rogers' antisemitic or racist statements-- or even reference Rogers by name.
Rogers (R-Flagstaff) was the first to speak about her censure, citing a "corrupted process" and painting the issue as one of First Amendment free speech rights. She slammed her peers for "colluding with the Democrats to attempt to destroy my reputation."
"I do not apologize. I will not back down," she said. "In the end, I rejoice in knowing I do and say what is right, and I speak as a free American."
Senate President Karen Fann said this was not a freedom of speech issue and that she would not tolerate members threatening each other and calling fellow Republicans "communists," which Rogers did early in the day on social media.
"This certainly is not something I wanted to do. It hurts us; it pains us to have to do this," said Fann (R-Prescott), who voted "yes" on the censure. "But what we do not condone is members threatening each other, to ruin each other, to incite violence, to call us 'communist.' We don't do that to each other."
While "everybody" has the right to free speech, "that does not give you leeway to threaten people or to say whatever you want then claim it's under freedom of speech," she said.
Democrats took a much harder tone.
Sen. Rebecca Rios, Senate Democratic leader, said Rogers' "default behavior" was to utter "racist, bigoted, and antisemitic" statements.
"I don't believe our action today will have any effect on this behavior, but it must be done," Rios said, adding that the bipartisan vote sends a "powerful message."
Sen. Raquel Terán (D-Phoenix), who also is chair of the Arizona Democratic Party and voted "yes," said the Senate should have expelled Rogers instead of just censuring her.
Rogers, Sen. Nancy Barto (R-Phoenix) and Sen. Warren Petersen (R-Gilbert) voted against the measure. Two other Republican senators, Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa) and David Gowan (R-Sierra Vista) and one Democratic senator, Victoria Steele (D-Tucson), did not attend the session, and did not vote.
...The censure might not be the only punishment Rogers faces. Senate GOP leaders are discussing whether Rogers will be removed from committees, majority spokesperson Kim Quintero said.
Rogers serves on the powerful Senate Judiciary and Government committees, as well as Health and Human Services and Natural Resources, Energy and Water committees. Removing her would be yet another rebuke that would lessen her influence on legislation at the Capitol.
Still, multiple copies of a draft of the censure obtained by the Arizona Republic show changes were made to remove Rogers’ name from the text, instead calling her the senator from District 6, and removing a reference to “inciting general racial and religious discrimination.” Quintero said she did not know why the language about discrimination was removed.
...Rogers doubled down with antisemitic sentiment and conspiracy theories on social media over the weekend, and her criticism of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy set her apart from GOP leaders in Arizona-- like Gov. Doug Ducey, and Senate leaders-- who issued statements in support of the country.
"I stand with the Christians worldwide not the global bankers who are shoving godlessness and degeneracy in our face," Rogers posted on Twitter. She claimed Zelenskyy was a "globalist puppet" for George Soros, the billionaire Democratic political donor, and the Clintons.
On Monday, in response to talks about a censure, Rogers wrote on Telegram she would "personally destroy the career of any Republican who partakes in the gaslighting of me simply because of the color of my skin or opinion about a war I don’t want to send our kids to die in." She added in a separate message she would “not apologize for being white. Hit me all you want.”
Rogers' appearance at the conference didn’t faze Ducey last week, who was subsequently criticized by media commentators and progressive groups for not condemning Rogers. Ducey’s political action committee, Arizonans for Strong Leadership, spent about $500,000 to elect Rogers to the Senate in 2020, campaign finance records show.
But asked whether he continued to support Rogers, Ducey said he needed governing majorities to get his agenda passed, and that she was better than her Democratic opponent, Felicia French.
Ducey has stayed silent since, but applauded the Senate's vote Tuesday. In a statement, the Republican governor said Rogers' statements on Ukraine were "not only ill-advised, but wrong and dangerous."
“Antisemitic and hateful language has no place in Arizona," according to Ducey's statement. "I have categorically condemned it in the past and condemn it now. I strongly believe our public policy debates should be about creating opportunity for all and making our state a better place, not denigrating and insulting any individual or group."
"These are incredibly divided times, but picking a side in the fight to protect western democracy is an easy call," the statement said. "It’s Putin versus freedom. I will always side with freedom."