Mark Finchem (R) is a far-right member of the Arizona House of Representatives who maintains ties to multiple extremist and white nationalist groups. A member of the Oath Keepers militia group himself, he has also vocally supported the QAnon cult and conspiracy theories. In 2016 Finchem worked with the militant right-wing group Coalition of Western States to support the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.
Finchem is also a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a corporate bill mill with many members who were involved in efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
In March 2021, Finchem announced his bid for secretary of state in Arizona with Trump’s endorsement, joining a coalition of pro-Trump secretary of state candidates that The Guardian described as a “nationwide alliance aiming to take control of the presidential election process in key battleground states.” In November 2022, he lost that election, as did most of the other extremist America First secretary of state candidates across the country.
January 6, 2021
- In mid-December 2020, Finchem received a donation of $6,000 from Trump to a personal business account. The watchdog group Accountable.us wrote that the donation came “amidst [Finchem’s] attempt to use his legislative power to influence the Arizona election result” and called for an investigation into the donation. Finchem did not disclose the donation to the Arizona secretary of state, which is required by state law.
- Finchem signed a Jan. 5, 2021 letter to Vice President Mike Pence asking him not to certify the election results on Jan. 6. “There are extensive and well-founded accusations of electoral administration mismanagement and deliberate and admitted violations of explicit election laws enacted by state legislatures in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin,” the letter read. “Therefore, we write to ask you to comply with our reasonable request to afford our nation more time to properly review the 2020 election by postponing the January 6th opening and counting of the electoral votes for at least 10 days, affording our respective bodies to meet, investigate, and as a body vote on certification or decertification of the election.”
- On Jan. 6 Finchem attended the Wild Protest rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol, where, according to the event’s since-deleted website, he had been slated to speak.
- He also uploaded a photo to Twitter that day of Trump supporters on the Capitol steps, captioned “what happens when the People feel they have been ignored, and Congress refuses to acknowledge rampant fraud.”
- In a statement issued after the insurrection, Finchem invoked the debunked claim that Antifa had been responsible for the breach of the Capitol building. “It is of course tragic that individuals positively identified as Antifa infiltrators entered the building by force,” he wrote. In response to an FBI report that found the Capitol violence had been perpetrated by Trump supporters and not Antifa, Finchem said he “wouldn’t trust a word that comes out of the FBI’s mouth at this point.”
- According to a Jan. 14, 2021 report by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), “Since tech companies have cracked down on Trump, ‘stop the steal’ posts, and QAnon fans, Finchem announced on Jan. 12 that he was joining Gab, a social media platform closely associated with white nationalists.”
The Big Lie
- Following the 2020 election, Finchem became a strong proponent of the lie that Trump had lost the election due to a Democratic conspiracy to steal it using widespread voter fraud. CNN refers to him as an “especially aggressive promoter” of the Big Lie.
- At a January 2021 rally in Georgia, Trump read a letter from Finchem with the claim—which has repeatedly been proven untrue—that “significant evidence of fraudulent and illegal voting in Arizona has been demonstrated.”
- Finchem claimed, without evidence, that the election had been rife with fraud. “We have substantial evidence that this election was a fraud in six states,” Finchem told ABC15 Arizona on Jan. 6, 2021.
- Finchem also used his Twitter account to make repeated claims of election fraud.
- On Nov. 30, 2020, Finchem, along with other Republican Arizona state legislators, joined Rudy Giuliani for an unofficial “hearing” about voter fraud in the 2020 election. So-called “witnesses” were not under oath, and the hearing was not held in an official capacity of the state of Arizona or any other U.S. governmental body.
- When Arizona’s Maricopa County Board of Supervisors held two election audits in response to fears that the election had been conducted fraudulently, Finchem claimed, without evidence, that the audits were a cover for more election tampering. On Steve Bannon’s podcast War Room, Finchem described the official audits as a “crime scene.”
- In September 2022, when asked to explain why his win of the GOP primary for secretary of state was legitimate but the 2020 presidential election had not been, Finchem admitted that the only difference in the election process was “the candidates,” essentially admitting that the Big Lie is a right-wing ruse.
- After multiple nonpartisan election audits failed to reveal fraud in the Arizona election, Finchem joined other state Republicans in calling for another audit. The state GOP ultimately settled on working with Cyber Ninjas, a firm run by a right-wing election denier, to conduct a separate, partisan audit.
- On a May 2021 episode of a QAnon-focused talk show called Redpill78, Finchem stated that he hoped the audit would result in reassigning Arizona’s electors to Trump.
- Finchem also used Twitter—where he had 27,000 followers—to promote the partisan Arizona audits. Although even the Cyber Ninja’s partisan audit found no evidence of widespread fraud and even indicated Biden had won by a wider margin than earlier predicted, Finchem claimed in a Sept. 8, 2021 tweet: “I am calling it. Between the preliminary audit results and the private canvass, I call on Arizona to decertify the election of 2020 and recall the electors. There is already enough evidence to show clear and convincing fraud. We have a duty to act.”
- In addition to the partisan Arizona audit, Finchem has promoted the use of partisan audits in other states. “I called on the PA legislators to get with the program and support the forensic audit,” Finchem tweeted on July 10, 2021. “The people want to #AuditPA!”
- According to emails obtained by Rolling Stone from early December 2020, Finchem and high-ranking Trump officials consulted with pro-Trump researchers about a plot to weed out enough Biden votes to recertify the election for Trump by using an obscure technology to identify the supposedly fraudulent ballots for removal.
Post-2020 Election Subversion
- In September 2021, Trump endorsed Finchem for secretary of state, calling him “a patriot who has fought for our Country right from his earliest moments in government,” and praising his “incredibly powerful stance on the massive Voter Fraud that took place in the 2020 Presidential Election Scam.”
- Finchem used his secretary of state campaign to double down on claims of voter fraud. In a Nov. 5, 2021 tweet soliciting signatures for an election petition, he wrote, “I am running against the crooked Democrats who steal elections. We must stop them.”
- If Finchem had won the race—along with fellow election denier Kari Lake (R ), who lost her bid for governor—Arizona was expected to pass legislation to eliminate mail-in ballots and early voting and to “give lawmakers peremptory authority to overturn an election.”
- In his bid to become the top election enforcement official in Arizona, Finchem was backed by an array of other extreme right conspiracy theorists such as Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn and Nicole Nogrady, who maintains that the Deep State staged the 9/11 terrorist attack and has been “working hard behind the scenes [ever since to create their desired ‘One World Gov’t.’”