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Rep. Finchem threatens to sue recall campaign over Capitol riot claims

Rep. Mark Finchem, currently running for Arizona secretary of state, has sent a cease and desist letter to the group seeking to recall him from office, calling on them to destroy campaign materials that point out his connections to the Oath Keepers militia and the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

The Oro Valley Republican is facing a recall by Rural Arizonans for Accountability who say he stoked voter fraud conspiracies and has ties to organizers of the "#StopTheSteal" movement.

The cease and desist issued by attorney Alexander Kolodin demands the group destroy all its campaign materials and issue retractions in local newspapers. Kolodin previously represented Cyber Ninjas, the Florida-based company conducting the Arizona Senate's audit.

If the group does not, Finchem's lawyers promise to sue. Finchem has sued those who have crossed him in the past, with both Finchem and former lawmaker Anthony Kern claiming Rep. Charlene Fernandez, D-Tucson, defamed them.

It is unclear if this new cease and desist is also part of Finchem's "Guardian Defense Fund," a 501(c)(4) dark money organization created by the lawmaker to "fight back" against what Finchem sees as the "weaponization of the 'free press.'"

"Threats by big money lawyers will not scare us away from recalling a dishonest politician that believes he is too important to do the job voters just hired him to do," a statement by Rural Arizonans for Accountability said. "Finchem's attempt to silence us — his constituents — from telling the truth about him underlines the importance of holding him accountable and removing him from office."

One point of contention for Finchem in the cease and desist letter is the connection to the extremist Oath Keepers organization that the recall organizers have pointed out.

Finchem has long been tied to the organization but in his cease and desist Kolodin states that the Oath Keepers is a "non-partisan" group and called allegations that it is anti-government to be "spurious claims." The letter also calls the Southern Poverty Law Center's website "hate-filled.

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The FBI describes the Oath Keepers as a "loosely organized collection of militia who believe that the federal government have been coopted by a shadowy conspiracy that is trying to strip American citizens of their rights."

Ten Oath Keepers have been indicted thus far in a case that claims they coordinated to conspire to breach the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, with prosecutors saying that more could be prosecuted in the future.

Finchem's letter also took issue with the use of a tweet he made while at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Finchem was at the Capitol when Trump supporters invaded the building in the hopes of stopping Congress from certifying President Joe Biden's election victory. The attack left five people dead, including a Capitol police officer. On his Twitter page, Finchem posted a photo he took of the Capitol after rioters and protesters had breached the inner areas of grounds.

"What happens when the People feel they have been ignored, and Congress refuses to acknowledge rampant fraud," he wrote, praising the rioters. Finchem later deleted the tweet and his account.

In his letter, Kolodin states" "Another photograph is of an energetic crowd standing on the Supreme Court side of the Capitol building, demonstrating vociferously but peacefully."

In the photo, conspiracy theorist and provocateur Alex Jones can be seen in the crowd as well as #StopTheSteal organizer Ali Alexander.

Finchem has contended that he never got within 500 yards of the Capitol but recall organizers state that the photograph says otherwise.

"We hope that instead of pursuing this frivolous lawsuit, Mr. Finchem comes home to District 11 and does something he seems reluctant to do, work to improve the lives of his constituents," Rural Arizonans for Accountability said.

This report was first published by the Arizona Mirror.


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Michael Meister | Arizona Republic/pool

Arizona state Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Oro Valley, touring Veterans Memorial Coliseum during the Senate's audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County.

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