This Week in Statehouse Action: Dark and Stormy edition

Riders On The Storm: More Republican groupies are making pilgrimages to fraudulent farce they insist on calling an “election audit” in Arizona’s Maricopa County.

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Last week in this space, I wrote about how Pennsylvania Sen. Doug Mastriano—who was present at the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol and led his state’s effort to overturn its 2020 presidential election results in favor of Trump—was joined by two of his colleagues for a visit to the arena that’s housing this farce.

Making the trip to the site of this so-called “audit” quickly became the cool thing to do among pro-Trump lawmakers. Since my last missive, three more GOP state lawmakers have paid homage to this fraudulent fiasco.

Specifically, 

Alaska Rep. David Eastman

Colorado Rep. Ron Hanks

Virginia Sen. Amanda Chase

These three Republican legislators have something else in common with Mastriano, too:

They all were present for the Jan. 6 violence at the U.S. Capitol.

Lawmakers from Georgia, Nevada, and Wisconsin also have or plan to make this pitiful pilgrimage.

Why?

Because all of these Republicans want to replicate the Arizona GOP’s effort in their home states to undermine faith in those elections, then use the exercise as a means to

Bolster their Trump cred among the party faithful

Use the confusion these shenanigans sow to justify passing more voter suppression laws

Or both.

Fire and Rain: Speaking of GOP lawmakers’ “Stop the Steal” movement, a Democrat in Michigan has become a target of repeated death threats for her vocal criticism of a nonsense “hearing” at which Rudy Giuliani was among supposed “witnesses” making baseless allegations of election fraud.

Six months later, Rep. Cynthia Johnson is still receiving racist threats against her life.

So yes, Republicans, tell us again how your efforts furthering Trump’s Big Lie are about “election integrity.”

The Thunder Rolls: It didn’t get nearly as much attention as the Jan. 6 riots in D.C., but Oregon had its own capitol insurrection back in December. 

On Dec. 21, 2020, Trump supporters invaded the capitol building in Salem.

In what could be considered a dry run for Jan. 6, armed rioters invaded the building clad in body armer and wielding Trump flags.

But unlike its East Coast counterpart, the incident in Oregon is actually being investigated.

And that investigation uncovered a chilling video in which a Republican member of the legislature explicitly coached right-wing agitators on how to invade the state’s capitol.

Rep. Mike Nearman is now under pressure from his own caucus to resign. Information had already come to light that he had opened the door for rioters in December, giving them access to the seat of state government (which was closed to the public at the time because of the raging coronavirus pandemic) and endangering the lives of capitol staff and his colleagues in the legislature.

But in the video that surfaced late last week, Nearman is seen coaching supporters through a step-by-step process of where to go, how to text him, and what assistance he’d provide on-site to help them gain access to the capitol building.

The video was made just days before this capitol invasion, and in it Nearman intersperses his instructions with ostensible disclaimers, like saying he wasn’t giving out a real cell phone number (he was, and it was definitely his) and that he knew nothing about this “Operation Hall Pass.”

In fact, pretty much exactly what he described in his coaching session came to pass:

On Dec. 21, protesters gathered outside the building’s west entrance, Nearman left his fellow lawmakers in the House chamber, and he walked out of an entrance, leaving the door hanging open long enough for that angry mob to grab it and gain entry.

Nearman now faces possible expulsion from the Oregon House, where 37 of his colleagues are Democrats and 40 votes are needed to boot him.

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