Rep. Mark Finchem says he has proof of Arizona election fraud. Months later, he hasn't turned it over
Rep. Mark Finchem has been saying for weeks that he's only days away from turning over proof of election fraud to Arizona's attorney general.
But now, four months after voting ended, he has not requested a meeting with state authorities. Nor has he provided the evidence he said would spark a criminal investigation and a grand jury probe.
The Attorney General's Office confirmed to The Arizona Republic that Finchem has not contacted the office to request an investigation into fraud that he and other legislators claim plagued the state's 2020 election.
“Representative Finchem has not met with investigators from our office to discuss allegations of voter fraud or the 2020 election," Attorney General's Office spokesman Ryan Anderson said. "Our office has consistently said that if anyone has evidence of voter fraud, they are encouraged to contact our investigators."
Finchem, R-Oro Valley, has touted his evidence — without specifics — at rallies, on social media and in interviews with conservative pundits, including Donald Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon.
"We want the Attorney General's Office to examine the evidence and to make a determination as to whether or not a grand jury investigation should go forward," Finchem told Bannon in a livestream broadcast at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February.
Finchem said he and Arizona Sen. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, would meet with state authorities on March 3 to push for a criminal investigation.
"This coming Wednesday, Sen. Borrelli and I will be meeting with representatives from the Arizona Attorney General's Office," Finchem told Bannon. "And we're going to be asking for a grand jury."
Bannon said Finchem and Borrelli were "tough hombres."
The meeting, like others Finchem promised, never happened.
Finchem on Thursday declined comment and refused to discuss his evidence of election fraud. But he tried to suggest through a spokesperson that the attorney general was investigating his claims.
"He has consistently declined comment on any AZ AG investigation that may be in progress," the spokesperson said.
Borrelli did not respond to an interview request on Thursday.
Finchem talks up case on far-right sites
Finchem hasn't been reluctant to talk about an attorney general's investigation in right-wing forums.
He's raised it twice in podcast and YouTube interviews and he's promoted his election fraud claims in pro-Trump journals, emails to supporters, meetings with legislators, social media posts and at rallies in Arizona and Washington, D.C.
In a Feb. 23 interview on Arizona Today, a far-right YouTube show, Finchem said he and Borrelli had gathered enough evidence of election fraud to impanel a grand jury. "In the coming days," Finchem said, he would seek a meeting with the Attorney General's Office.
"There's enough there that pierces the test for probable cause," Finchem told host Lyle Rapacki of Prescott. "In Arizona, specifically, there was sufficient criminality before the election, during the election and possibly even after the election, for a grand jury."
What does a grand jury do?
Grand juries hear cases brought by prosecutors to decide if there is enough evidence to charge a person with a crime.
Impaneling a grand jury is a secret and complex process. A person can't just call up the Attorney General's Office and ask for a grand jury investigation, not even a legislator.
"Nobody has a special right to a grand jury," former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard said. "An outside party can't simply tell you he wants a grand jury."
Goddard, who served as attorney general from 2003 to 2011, said the ability to convene a grand jury is a very important power bestowed on the office.
Arizona makes it a crime for authorities to publicly discuss grand juries or their investigations. Jurors are impaneled outside of the public view, consider evidence and deliberate in secret before handing up any indictments.
Goddard, a Democrat, said Arizona's electoral system has withstood past allegations of fraud. And he said the current allegations of fraud surrounding the 2020 election are very familiar.
"I am happy to say I have had an opportunity to investigate allegations of election misconduct and I've come out with an even greater respect for the election process," he said.
The people involved in the election are dedicated to ensuring free and fair elections, not to party politics, he said.
"It is a very carefully run bipartisan process," he said. "It is a system well worth defending. To say without evidence that it is not, is just abhorrent."
Allegations that Arizona's election was rigged to ensure President Donald Trump's defeat have been tossed out of state court multiple times for lack of evidence. Nationwide, cases alleging election fraud have similarly failed. State and federal courts have dismissed more than 50 lawsuits brought by Trump or his representatives.
"All they are doing is making rash allegations because they don't like the results," Goddard said.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris carried Arizona, beating Trump by 10,457 votes, the narrowest margin in the country.
Lawmakers rallied for 'Stop the Steal'
Finchem and Borrelli were cheerleaders for the "Stop the Steal" movement. Its rallies and rhetoric led to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Since then their rhetoric about election fraud has intensified, particularly when it comes to Maricopa County. They have pushed baseless conspiracy theories that adulterated ballots in Arizona's most populous county cost Trump the state.
Borrelli is among GOP senators who have fought to subpoena and audit every ballot cast in Maricopa County, all 2.1 million of them. A judge on Feb. 26 ordered the county to turn over ballots to the Senate and provide access to voting machines.
Borrelli is a retired U.S. Marine Corps gunnery sergeant and a former Lake Havasu City Council member. He was elected as a state representative in 2013 and senator in 2016.
Finchem, who uses the nickname "Honey Badger," was elected to the House in 2014 and has worked as a power supply consultant, a Realtor and an officer with the Kalamazoo Public Safety Department in Michigan.
Finchem said in his CPAC interview with Bannon that he had evidence of fraud. He accused the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and election officials of accessing election machines and data while it was under the protection of the Senate subpoena.
"So, what that means is we believe this situation is now a crime scene," Finchem said. "What they've is, they've tampered with evidence. They've tampered with the scene. And that now makes it, we allege, to be a crime."
Bannon appeared incredulous: "Hold it, so you're going to want a grand jury impaneled for criminal charges against the Republican- controlled Board of Supervisors in Maricopa County? I just want to make sure I'm hearing that right."
"You're hearing that right," Finchem said.
Amid Jan. 6 rioters at U.S. Capitol
Finchem is facing increased scrutiny for his efforts to overturn election results. In fact, concern over a potential federal investigation is one of the reasons he gives for not being able to discuss the evidence he has allegedly amassed.
When the deadly incursion unfolded at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, Finchem was on the ground there and communicated directly with Stop the Steal rally organizers, a Republic investigation found.
At the same time, he posted a Tweet of rioters on the Capitol steps: “What happens when the People feel they have been ignored, and Congress refuses to acknowledge rampant fraud."
Finchem has since attempted to distance himself from the Stop the Steal rally of Jan. 6. He told constituents he traveled to Washington, D.C., for a series of meetings, including one to deliver an evidence book and letter documenting election fraud to Vice President Mike Pence.
Finchem has refused to turn over documents, emails, texts and correspondence related to his travels. He also has refused to share the evidence that he purportedly turned over to Pence.
The Republic requested the information under the Arizona Public Records Law in January. Finchem's lawyers claim the information is private and have released only curated texts and emails.
Finchem and Borrelli are not the only lawmakers who pushed Stop the Steal.
Former Rep. Anthony Kern, R-Glendale, spoke at Stop the Steal rallies in Arizona and Washington D.C., telling crowds he was willing to give up politics and fight for Trump to remain in the White House.
Kern was photographed on the steps of the U.S. Capitol amid a crush of rioters on Jan. 6. He has repeatedly refused to comment about his activities.
Stop the Steal organizer Ali Alexander said Biggs, Gosar and Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks helped him plan and "schemed up" the U.S. Capitol rally. Biggs has repeatedly denied the claim, saying his appearances with Alexander on a talk show and at rallies were coincidences.
All five lawmakers were featured speakers at a Dec. 19 Stop the Steal rally outside the Arizona Capitol, where Gosar was the headliner.
Borrelli warned that communism was being spread through the electoral process.
"Are we going to stand for that," he asked the crowd before leading them in a chant of "bulls---!"
He said state election officials were not being honest about election results.
"They're not coming clean to prove they had an honest election," he said. "Surrender is not in our creed."
Finchem told the same crowd he dug up evidence of election fraud and would soon be unveiling it for the world to see.
Almost three months later, he told Bannon the same thing and predicted the attorney general would be forced to act.
"I think it is going to lead to an investigation," he said.
Robert Anglen investigates consumer issues for The Republic. If you're the victim of fraud, waste or abuse, reach him at email@example.com or 602-444-8694. Follow him on Twitter @robertanglen
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