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Arizona State Senate censures lawmaker who threatened rivals with violence

Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers was censured Tuesday by her colleagues in a bipartisan vote.
Congressional Quarterly
CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Imag
Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers was censured Tuesday by her colleagues in a bipartisan vote.

The Arizona State Senate, in a bipartisan vote, has censured a Republican lawmaker for calling for violence against her political opponents, saying state Sen. Wendy Rogers "has damaged the reputation of the Arizona State Senate by her actions."

The move comes days after Rogers spoke at a conference organized by a well-known white nationalist in which she called for her political rivals to be hanged. She later usedantisemitic tropes to describe Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, whose nation is being invaded by Russian troops.

The event — the America First Political Action Conference — which was organized by Nick Fuentes, an online troll and outspoken white nationalist, was also attended by U.S. Reps. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., and Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga. Both lawmakers have drawn scrutiny for their past remarks; however, neither was officially reprimanded by party leadership for their presence at the event, though both face political isolation.

"There's no place in the Republican Party for white supremacists or anti-Semitism," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement, not naming any of the event's participants by name.

During the conference, speakers made racist remarks and cheered on Russian President Vladimir Putin, comparing the Russian leader favorably to Adolf Hitler.

Rogers, in her remarks, praised Fuentes — an outspoken racist who has said he does not believe women should have the right to vote — as "the most persecuted man in America."

Thirteen Democrats and 11 Republicans in the 30-member chamber voted to censure Rogers. She 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 censure motion against Rogers said.

In a series of tweets on Tuesday following the censure, Rogers defended her appearance at the conference as an expression of her First Amendment right to free speech.

"I do not apologize, I will not back down and I am sorely disappointed in the leadership of this body for colluding with the Democrats to attempt to destroy my reputation," she wrote.

Separately, Greene, who has a long history of promoting racist and antisemitic conspiracy theories, also took to Twitter to double down on her remarks.

Posted with a video clip from her remarks at the conference, Greene wrote: "I am not going to play the guilt by association game in which you demand every conservative should justify anything ever said by anyone they've ever shared a room with."

"I'm not going to be drawn into that. I'm only responsible for what I say," she said, referring to speeches that included bigoted language and praise for Hitler as "a few off-color remarks."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Alana Wise
Alana Wise is a politics reporter on the Washington desk at NPR.