Lawmakers Censor Arizona Senator Wendy Rogers Over ‘Disorderly’ Posts and Threats
Arizona state senators censured Senator Wendy Rogers in a bipartisan vote on Tuesday.
The vote came after Rogers spoke at an extremist conference in Orlando, Florida, and called for the hanging of “traitors” and “high profile criminals”. She also went on several social media screeds that were widely condemned as anti-Semitic.
The motion, introduced by Republican Senator Rick Gray, passed with overwhelming support: 24 to 3, with three members absent.
Republicans Nancy Barto, who represents District 15, and Warren Petersen, of District 12, opposed the move. Rogers represents District 6, which stretches from Sho Low to Williams.
Although lawmakers pointed to the rare moment of bipartisan action, some Senate Democrats said the censorship — a token measure — didn’t go far enough.
“Is the censorship enough in the face of what we’ve seen? I think more could be done,” Senate Minority Leader Rebecca Rios, who represents Central and South Phoenix, said in remarks. preceding his vote. “But it’s a start.”
Rogers, during her one-year tenure as state senator, earned a reputation for provocative social media threads and courting far-right extremists.
But she seems to have ruffled more feathers than usual in recent weeks – enough to have even her fellow Republicans turn on one of their own. Eleven of his Republican colleagues in the Senate voted for censure.
Still, Governor Doug Ducey maintained that he would still prefer Rogers as a sitting senator to a Democrat. Ducey’s office did not immediately return a request for new times Tuesday asking for comment.
Senator Paul Boyer, a Republican representing Glendale and West Phoenix, said new times that the censorship was in response to Rogers’ social media posts becoming “particularly unbalanced and removed from reality” in recent days. “We are not the party of anti-Semitism and racial superiority,” he said.
Over the past week, Rogers has launched several social media rants loosely related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A selection of tweets from Rogers called Ukrainian Jewish President Volodymyr Zelenskyy a “globalist puppet for Soros and the Clintons.” This was widely condemned as anti-Semitic.
Rogers also wrote that efforts to “de-platform and de-bank Russia” were “just as bad as invading Ukraine.”
On Friday, Rogers also made a pre-recorded appearance at AFPAC, a white nationalist conference led by political pundit Nick Fuentes.
During her speech, she called on the state to build “more gallows” to hang political enemies, “traitors” and “high profile criminals”. She did not specify.
She also praised Fuentes, telling her followers to ‘keep doing what you’re doing’. The political commentator, considered the leader of the far-right ‘groyper’ movement, has a long history of white supremacist views.
Several senators who spoke in favor of censure on Tuesday cited those comments as the reason for supporting the motion.
“I don’t take it lightly. No one should take it lightly,” said Democratic Senator Raquel Terán, who represents District 30. “This incitement to violence is unconscionable.”
She called on her fellow lawmakers to move to expel Rogers.
Rios and others noted that offensive and provocative remarks were not unusual for Rogers.
Over the past year, the senator has built a national Arizona following — garnering support from powerful figures including former President Donald Trump. She has maintained a constant and polarizing presence on Twitter and Telegram, a popular right-wing messaging app, to build her platform.
She raised millions of dollars in campaign funds in the process. Last year, she brought in nearly $2.5 million in donations. The majority came from non-state donors.
“It’s not a behavioral aberration,” Rios said. “That’s the default. Imagine if we got together and did this the very first time.”
“Nevertheless,” she said. “It’s still a powerful message.”
It is rare for lawmakers to take disciplinary action against one of their own, although it has happened before.
In 2018, lawmakers voted to expel Republican Rep. Don Shooter from Yuma County after a damning investigation uncovered a pattern of sexual harassment. The following year, Republican Representative David Stringer was forced to resign after refusing to cooperate with an investigation into sexual misconduct.
Boyer did not rule out taking further action against Rogers, but said it was too early to tell if the GOP would rally behind it.
“I think for today the censorship is enough,” Boyer said. “We’ll see how she responds to it.”
So far, Rogers hasn’t taken it well.
“Today is the day we find out if the GOP communists are throwing sweet grandma under the bus because she’s white,” she wrote on Telegram ahead of Tuesday’s Senate summons.
During the vote, she spoke in her own defense. She was the only legislator to do so.
“This censorship is nothing more than an attempt to limit my speech,” she said. “I don’t apologize.”