America First Secretary of State Coalition (AFSSC) is a political group promoting right-wing candidates for secretary of state who support Trump’s baseless claims of 2020 election fraud. The coalition grew out of a May 2021 meeting in Las Vegas convened by former Nevada State Rep. Jim Marchant, who is running for secretary of state in Nevada in 2022. Marchant was interested in aligning with other extreme candidates for secretary of state, including Jody Hice (R), who lost the 2022 GOP primary in Georgia; Arizona Secretary of State Mark Finchem (R); and Kristina Karamo (R) of Michigan. As of July 2022, AFSSC was promoting a slate of 14 secretary of state candidates, as well as two candidates for governor and one for Congress.
AFSSC created a policy agenda to reshape voting procedures in line with right-wing ideology that restricts voter access. Items include voter ID laws, requiring paper ballots, eliminating mail-in ballots, reforming poll watching policies, and aggressively removing voters from rolls. AFSSC established the Conservatives for Election Integrity PAC to fund its agenda items, promising to provide their preferred candidates with “the financial support that they will need to carry out and implement the Coalition’s goals and objective[s].”
Marchant has promoted the group through right-wing media outlets such as Steve Bannon’s War Room.
January 6, 2021
- AFSSC candidate Mark Finchem was listed as a speaker at the Wild Protest rally that preceded the insurrection. Prior to Jan. 6, he promoted the rally and march to the Capitol on Twitter.
- At 3:15 p.m. on Jan. 6, Finchem posted a photo of angry Trump supporters on the steps of the Capitol, writing, “What happens when the People feel they have been ignored, and Congress refuses to acknowledge rampant fraud. #stopthesteal.”
- After the insurrection, Finchem spread lies that members of Antifa had attacked the Capitol and that Trump supporters were attempting to stop them.
- Kristina Karamo also claimed that the Capitol insurrection was not perpetrated by Trump supporters but was “completely Antifa posing as Trump supporters.”
- Ahead of the Jan. 6 insurrection, AFSSC candidate Jody Hice tweeted: “This is our 1776 moment” and later claimed that Trump supporters who perpetrated the insurrection were the real victims of the Capitol riot.
- Idaho secretary of state candidate Dorothy Moon (R) regularly attended meetings of right-wing extremist groups that helped organize the Capitol insurrection. For instance, she attended an event hosted by the Panhandle Patriots and was photographed with the group next to its leader, Mike Birdsong, who was at the Capitol on Jan. 6 with the Proud Boys.
- The House Select Committee investigating the insurrection identified Doug Mastriano (R), a Pennsylvania state senator who is now running for governor with backing from AFSSC, as a key figure of interest. He reportedly spent more than $3,000 to bus roughly 100 Trump supporters to D.C. on Jan. 6.
The Big Lie
- AFSSC is founded on the premise that there has been widespread election fraud perpetrated by Democrats and their “globalist” allies. The group is also closely tied to the QAnon conspiracy theory. One of its key leaders, a man who goes by the pseudonym Juan O Savin, is one of the most prominent “influencers” in the QAnon movement.
- Juan O Savin and AFSSC have asserted, without any evidence, that Democratic megadonor George Soros was behind a “cabal” and a “globalist establishment” to subvert the election process through rigged digital voting machines.
- Marchant claims that he is running for secretary of state because of the need to “overhaul the fraudulent election system in Nevada.” In a 2022 interview with NBC News, he said that Trump beat Biden in the Nevada election and is the rightful president.
- Karamo made several false claims of fraud in the 2020 election, including assertions that ballots were illegitimately cast after 3 AM and that poll workers decided to tabulate inconclusive ballots in favor of Democrats.
- On the one-year anniversary of the Capitol insurrection, Finchem tweeted: “The real insurrection was run by [then-Maricopa County Recorder Adrian] Fontes and [Secretary of State Katie] Hobbs in Maricopa and Pima on the run-up to Nov 3rd and several days after where they rigged the vote in Arizona with tens of thousands of fraudulent votes in each of those counties.”
Post-2020 Election Subversion
Since the 2020 election Marchant and AFSSC have tried to persuade state election officials across the country to stop the use of voting machines and require that all votes are cast and counted by hand.