Three Pennsylvania lawmakers were in Arizona on Wednesday to take a look at the state Senate GOP’s partisan audit of the 2020 election.
They’re the newest Republicans to make a pilgrimage to Phoenix, ground zero in the”stop the steal” movement’s push to find support for conspiracy theories suggesting the election was stolen from former President Donald Trump.
U.S. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz cheered the audit in a rally just outside Phoenix last month. The following day, several prominent Trump fans and conspiracy promoters were promoted as speakers in a Phoenix megachurch. Enrique Tarrio, leader of the Proud Boys extremist group, recently posted a brief video of himself in the Arizona Capitol.
Political pilgrimages are nothing new to Arizona, where Republican politicians have enjoyed photo ops before the Mexico border wall. Now, however, the draw is the Arizona State Fairgrounds, site of a former basketball stadium where a Trump supporter that has encouraged election conspiracies is overseeing a hand recount of 2.1 million ballots from Maricopa County.
The Most Recent visitors are Pennsylvania Sens. Doug Mastriano and Cris Dush, and Rep. Rob Kauffman. They met with Arizona legislators in the Capitol before traveling to the audit site to have a briefing from the auditors.
“Transparency is a must (in) our republic,” Mastriano wrote in a news release posted on Twitter. “Every citizen should be confident that their vote counts.”
Since Trump and his allies claimed without evidence last year that his Arizona reduction was marred by fraud, the Arizona Senate GOP used its subpoena power to access all ballots, counting machines and hard drives filled with election data in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix and 60 percent of Arizona’s voters.
They handed it all over to a team headed by Cyber Ninjas, a small consulting company without a previous election experience to get a hand recount and evaluation of vote-counting machines and information.
The effort won’t change President Joe Biden’s success, and election experts have pointed to significant flaws in the procedure. However, it’s become a model for Republicans in other states hoping to develop evidence supporting conspiracy theories.
“It’s my belief that Arizona will be the launch pad for elections audits and election integrity efforts all over this great country,” Gaetz said. He recorded the swing states where Trump dropped in 2020.
Greene said the audit was why she and Gaetz chose Mesa, a Phoenix suburb, for the next stop on their tour of America First rallies.
“Matt said,’Are after that Arizona audit? ”’ Greene said. “I said,’Yeah I have been after it.’ He said, ‘Lets go to Arizona.’ I said, ‘Count me in. ”’
Mastriano is now a one-man force in conservative politics in Pennsylvania, leading anti-mask protests this past year, pushing to overturn Trump’s reelection reduction and showing up outside the U.S. Capitol through the Jan. 6 riot.
In November, Mastriano organized a hearing in Gettysburg that featured Rudy Giuliani and a telephone call appearance by Trump where the president claimed the election was rigged and urged state lawmakers to overturn the outcome.
All three seeing Pennsylvania lawmakers were among the 64 Republican legislators who signed a letter requesting the state’s congressional delegation to object to Pennsylvania’s electoral college votes being cast for Biden.