Arizona state House Rep. Mark Finchem and former state representative Anthony Kern have filed a defamation lawsuit against House Democratic Caucus Leader Charlene Fernandez. Their complaint, which lists all parties in their personal capacity, was submitted on Feb. 26 and referenced a Criminal Referral letter Fernandez and other Democrats sent to Acting U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and FBI Director Christopher Wray on Jan. 12, stating both Finchem and Kern were present at the riot in Washington D.C. on Jan. 6 and "actively encouraged the mob, both before and during the attack on the capitol" and may have "engaged in insurrection and rebellion."
The lawsuit states that by addressing Messrs. Rosen and Wray on official Arizona State Legislature letterhead, Fernandez (D-LD4) sought to represent her Criminal Referral letter as an official act of the Arizona State Legislature as she accused them of the "highest possible crimes against the Government of the United States." They declare she took action beyond the scope of her legislative duties with no authorization to do so. Indeed, no resolution of either the House or the Senate, or any of their committees, authorized the Criminal Referral.
According to the lawsuit, Fernandez was not in Washington D.C. on Jan. 6, and therefore did not personally observe any of the activities addressed in the Criminal Referral letter. Finchem and Kern, who have both denied any involvement or participation in any violent rioting, have been upfront about being in D.C. on Jan. 6. The suit contends Fernandez attempted to criminally punish the two for exercising their First Amendment rights, stating:
"The purpose of the First Amendment is to facilitate and encourage robust debate. Its purpose is not to encourage or facilitate baseless charges of criminal acts by one's political adversaries, for base political purposes."
Despite their reiterated denial, the Jan. 12 Criminal Referral letter maintains social media posts of Finchem and Kern "strongly suggest" the two were not only present but "actively encouraged the mob, both before and during the attack on the Capitol."
Finchem and Kern allege Fernandez's slanderous accusations against them were motivated by a hostile "desire to shut down debate regarding the controversy over election fraud in the 2020 Presidential election, as well as the larger topic of election integrity."
The complaint goes on to say Fernandez's Criminal Referral letter was a personal act that was maliciously intended to take full advantage of the reprehensible criminal conduct of those who rioted on Capitol Hill and breached the building itself on Jan. 6. They maintain the fact Fernandez published her letter to the media clarifies her political motives. The lawsuit elaborates in detail the importance of election integrity:
"The United States was founded on a proposition that was considered radical for its time: that the legitimacy of government could only come from the consent of the governed. Indeed, the term 'republic' derives from the Latin "res publica" meaning 'the thing of the people.' Direction of the government by the people via the free and fair election of their representatives is the core of our republican form of government.
In order to defend this principle of self-governance, Plaintiffs strongly believe that protecting the integrity of our elections is crucial. Without confidence in the process, voters can never feel assured that the persons governing them do so with their consent, regardless of outcome.
As the campaign for the 2020 Presidential election unfolded, Plaintiffs began to notice irregularities in polling, in the fact that mass mailing of ballots without adequate signature verification and chain of custody controls was being implemented in key battleground states, in the use of private funding for the administration of elections at the county level in key battleground states, and in the way that social media companies were quashing the circulation of news stories that they deemed harmful to the candidacy of Joe Biden."
Citing Hunter Biden's laptop as a well-documented example of social media censorship by big tech oligarchs, the lawsuit describes Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey's Congressional testimony claiming that the contents of the laptop violated the company's policy against circulating "hacked" material. The lawsuit states, "Twitter's reasoning was utter nonsense, as Biden's computer was not "hacked"; he had left it in the custody of a computer repair shop, whose contract stipulated that the computer became the shop's property if it was abandoned."
The lawsuit references a Time Magazine article detailing a "shadow campaign" (previously reported on in-depth by UncoverDC) put in place by organizations with extensive ties to the Democratic party to "fortify" the 2020 election and outlines the concerted effort that included agreements with Twitter and Facebook, as well as intense action to increase mail-in voting, further validating the genuine election concerns held by Finchem and Kern, as well as millions of American citizens, that point to a lack of election integrity in the presidential election. The claim lists examples of voter fraud by both mail-in voting and electronic voting systems and elaborates on serious concerns held by Democratic U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Ron Wyden, and Congressman Mark Pocan, who wrote in 2019 that "our nations election systems and infrastructure are under serious threat."
Before filing the lawsuit with Kern, Finchem filed an ethics complaint against 28 House Democrats and 14 Senate Democrats, charging them with having conspired to punish him for exercising his First Amendment right to "peaceably assemble and contest the legitimacy of the recent presidential election." He contended that the choice of AZ state Democrats to sign a letter asking the FBI and Department of Justice to look into his actions before and during the Jan. 6 demonstration collides with House ethics rules and is libelous and violates federal law. His ethics complaint was denied.
According to the lawsuit, Fernandez has advocated for expanding mail-in voting and other measures that make Arizona's elections more vulnerable to fraud. She has also rejected and attempted to defeat Kern and Finchem's efforts to enhance election integrity in the state. Finchem and Kern are asking that a Superior Court Judge in Yuma County, where Fernandez resides, to demand judgment against her, requiring her to publish a full retraction of the false and malicious allegations.