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Wendy Rogers refused to speak to Senate ethics panel about her 'fed boy summer' tweet

Ethics Committee issued report & appears to be done investigating Rogers, who said she was referencing vulgar rap song

Flagstaff Republican Sen. Wendy Rogers refused to meet with the attorney for the Senate Ethics Committee, but her lawyer said in a letter to the panel that her tweet dismissing the racially motivated Buffalo grocery store mass shooting was a reference to a 2019 hip hop song and not a nod to white supremacist online culture.

The Arizona Senate launched an ethics investigation into Rogers for alluding on social media that the shooting in Buffalo was the work of federal law enforcement instead of the white supremacist accused of carrying out the attack. 

Only minutes after a white teenager armed with an assault rifle and outfitted with body armor shot and killed 10 people — most of them Black — in a Buffalo grocery store on May 14, Rogers posted on several social media platforms that “fed boy summer has started in Buffalo.” She has previously used the term “feds” to describe white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups, seeking to blame federal law enforcement for the actions of racists. 

Rogers’ use of the phrase “fed boy summer” is similar to “white boy summer,” a viral meme used by neo-Nazis and white nationalists in 2021. White nationalist leader Nick Fuentes adopted the phrase for his summer road trip last year, including an alleged event with Prescott Republican Congressman Paul Gosar, who later denied it.

Rogers’ is a staunch supporter of Fuentes and attended Fuentes’ America First Political Action Conference earlier this year via video. She gave a speech in which she fantasized about hanging political enemies and called those in attendance “patriots,” speaking shortly after others who shared nakedly white nationalist views on stage

However, in a report to the Senate Ethics Committee on June 17 prepared by panel’s lawyer, Chris Kleminich, Rogers’ attorney claims that the term is a reference to Megan Thee Stallion’s 2019 profanity-laced song “Hot Girl Summer” which became an internet meme

Rogers regularly refers to herself as a devout Christian and “sweet grandma” in her social media postings, and has publicly denounced the use of profanity. Megan Thee Stallion’s song includes more than 60 curse words

“Senator Rogers adapted this social media format to share her message by labeling the mishandling of the Buffalo shooting as ‘Fed Boy Summer,’” Rogers’ attorney, Timothy La Sota, wrote in a letter to the committee’s lawyer. “Senator Rogers’ statement served to critique how the Federal Government has handled known threats to this country and failed to intervene to prevent this tragedy. Senator Rogers is concerned similar instances will continue this summer if the Federal Government continues to be weak on crime.”

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Kleminich was only able to communicate with Rogers via La Sota, as she refused to do an in-person interview for the investigation, a process which La Sota called “unnecessary and a waste of time.” 

Kleminich wrote that he considered a subpoena to compel Rogers to have a sit-down interview, but he “concluded that the Senate was best served by timely completion and delivery of this report, based on Senator Rogers’ written statements, rather than to incur further delays by issuing a subpoena that would not necessarily elucidate any additional information.”

Some of the questions that Kleminich was hoping to get answered involved the disconnect between Rogers’ reasoning behind the post and how the post was interpreted online by her followers. While Rogers said she is concerned with the federal government’s approach to mass shooters, her fans saw that she was alluding to the attack being a false flag by the government itself. 

Rogers also shared posts on the encrypted messaging chat Telegram alluding to the long defunct CIA program called MK Ultra as the cause of the Buffalo shooting, which has become a hotbed for conspiracy theorists. 

“What is #MKUltra?” Rogers wrote. “A lot of things make sense when you understand that one.” 

The CIA program that unsuccessfully attempted mind control has been at the forefront of conspiracy theories — some claim that celebrities are being controlled — and some conspiracy theorists have been claiming without evidence that the Buffalo shooter is a “victim” of the program. Users in Rogers’ comments quickly made the connection between her post and the shooting, as well. 

The most-liked comment on Rogers’ Gab post mentions “MK Ultra,” and was noted in the Senate report. 

“This reeks of the federal government!…Also ATF is trying to Recategorize certain AR pistols/rifles for a gun grab! It’s almost like that was their response, will give you white supremacy and will make it so that everybody knows about with 24/7 news coverage. Either it was staged or he was a product of MK Ultra,” the comment says. 

The most-liked comment on her post on Telegram brings up long debunked claims about the shootings in Sandy Hook and Stoneman Douglas High School. Rogers’ Telegram has often been a hotbed of conspiracy theories and extremist rhetoric

When asked about how others interpreted her comments, Rogers’ attorney said it was “unclear why you have asked a question about what someone else said or wrote.” 

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“The views of commenters cannot be attributed to Senator Rogers any more than can Bernie Sanders be blamed because one of his campaign volunteers shot GOP members of Congress at a baseball practice,” La Sota wrote, adding that the media was to blame for taking Rogers’ comments out of context. 

A review of Rogers Telegram comments reviewed a large number of commenters making claims of conspiracy theories, as well as highly racist and antisemitic comments

The report marks the end of the Ethics Committee’s investigation to see if Rogers comments were “inappropriate of an elected official of this body.” It is unclear if any further action will be taken; the legislature ended its annual session on June 24 and is not expected to return until January 2023.

This report was first published by the Arizona Mirror.


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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy/Arizona Mirror