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Arizona Republicans are running a shameless post-election con job

Since 2020, conservatives in the Grand Canyon State have perfected the art of using election lies to squeeze every dollar possible out of their followers.


In hindsight, a Washington Post article last month detailing the Arizona GOP’s ability to raise money off of former President Donald Trump’s 2020 election lies was instructive. It showed how the state's Republicans have mastered the most shameless grift in politics — and that grift is in full effect today.

Let’s call it the fascism industrial complex: a system of monetizing or otherwise benefiting from conservative voters’ illiberal impulses by attempting to undermine democratic elections and stoking violence by playing up fears of a culture war on conservatives. 

The Post report explained how the Arizona GOP, led by Kelli Ward, raised money throughout 2021 by hyping election lies and, fundamentally, an audit it baselessly suggested was needed to prove Trump had actually won Arizona the previous year. 

According to The Post:

Arizona Republican officials discovered that raising money off the audit was a smashing success. From May to September 2021, at least 92 emails mentioned the audit as a reason to give to the Arizona GOP. The state party secured almost $1.1 million during that five-month period of a non-election year, compared to about $865,000 for 2020 and 2022 combined.

It seems we’re seeing the same plan in action today: right-wingers’ using Arizona’s elections as a springboard for their conspiracy-based politics and using conservative voters as a piggy bank.  

The Arizona Republic reported Tuesday that far-right state Sen. Wendy Rogers has already begun fundraising for “a new election for Maricopa” County. (That will not happen.)

I continue to believe the most shameless grift in politics today is that of Turning Point USA — a Phoenix-based group for young, Trump-loving Christian nationalists — and its founder, Charlie Kirk.  

As I’ve written here previously, Kirk and co. were thoroughly rebuked this election cycle. Young people overwhelmingly backed Democrats over Republicans in key races, and, more specifically, many of the candidates Turning Point endorsed came up short. (Looking at you, John Gibbs.) 

This face-plant comes at a bad time for the organization, which has scheduled its second annual “AmericaFest” convention for December.  

It’s helpful information as you watch Kirk and other members of his organization constantly trying to gin up right-wing fervor over Arizona’s election results, in which several candidates Trump endorsed for key statewide offices took losses. Turning Point is now in the unenviable position of having to fill up a Phoenix convention center with rabid right-wingers barely a month after the group's proof of concept as a youth outreach group was, well, essentially disproven. 

So, how does one accomplish this? 

Perhaps, by offering discounted tickets.

Or, as Arizona Republicans demonstrated so well last year, you can animate the GOP base with dangerous election lies and fears of a repressive, dictatorial government. 

I happily watched Kirk’s web show and perused his Twitter feed on and after Election Day this month to witness his slow implosion as Arizona voters rejected Trump-endorsed candidates for governor, secretary of state and U.S. senator. I’ve seen Kirk and his hapless co-hosts pivot from pre-election arrogance to Election Day depression to post-election conspiracy theories — all while they’ve intermittently promoted AmericaFest and tried to salvage Turning Point’s reputation as a force to be reckoned with in the GOP.

And, I should say: Most of Arizona’s failed right-wing candidates from this year’s midterm elections appear to be in on this eternal campaign grift, as well. GOP gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake and GOP secretary of state nominee Mark Finchem have refused to concede — each suggesting (without evidence) that Republican voters were disenfranchised during the elections.

It's shades of Trump in 2020 from Arizona conservatives too thirsty for attention, and hungry for money, to fully acknowledge defeat.