Arizona secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem announced last week that he has been endorsed by ‘Constitutional sheriff’ Richard Mack. Finchem is a state representative, promoter of QAnon and stolen election conspiracy theories, and a member of the Oath Keepers militia group who was present at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. He was previously endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
Mack, a former Oath Keepers board member and a supporter of the Bundy family’s armed standoff with federal officials, founded the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, which teaches law enforcement officials that “the power of the sheriff even supersedes the powers of the president.” He urges county sheriffs to resist “tyranny” from state and federal governments; during the COVID-19 pandemic, he has told sheriffs to refuse to enforce state public health measures like mask requirements. A recent report by the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism warned that CSPOA’s trainings spread anti-government extremism among law enforcement officers.
Right Wing Watch reported this year that Mack is expanding the CSPOA by having county governments as well as individual law enforcement officers join the organization.
Finchem’s website includes a link to a recent appearance on the far-right One America News network in which he talked about the bogus “audit” of Maricopa County votes and claimed, “When we keep digging, we keep uncovering things that are these anomalies which—they turn into evidence, which become proof, which we refer to the attorney general’s office.”
In January, Finchem described the violence at the Capitol as “What happens when the People feel they have been ignored, and Congress refuses to acknowledge rampant fraud.” A week after the Capitol insurrection, Finchem claimed that social media deplatforming is “something very similar” to what German Nazis, Pol Pot, and Mao did, warning, “When you silence speech, and you silence thought, the next step is eliminating people.”
In 2019, the Phoenix New Times described Finchem as a “fringe lawmaker” who described the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville as “a PSYOP to impugn those of us who stand for the rule of law and civil rights.” During the Obama administration, Finchem claimed that the president was “taking every opportunity to install his ideological, totalitarian dictatorship.”
Arizona’s current secretary of state, Democrat Katie Hobbs, has received death threats and harassment from Trump supporters. She and other election officials targeted by Trump and his allies have told CNN they live in fear of retaliation for not backing Trump’s stolen-election claims. Hobbs is running for governor.
The Associated Press has reported that two other Arizona state legislators running to be the GOP nominee for secretary of state have proposed new restrictions on voting and a bill allowing state legislators to disregard voters and choose their own Electoral College electors.
Some right-wing donors aligned with Trump are focusing on electing Trump allies to oversee future elections. Trump has also endorsed secretary of state candidates in Michigan and Georgia and a proponent of debunked stolen election claims for Michigan attorney general.