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Attorneys for Arizona lawmakers Biggs, Finchem and Gosar seek dismissal of election challenges

By Ben Giles
Published: Wednesday, April 20, 2022 - 10:11pm
Updated: Friday, June 3, 2022 - 3:19pm

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Andy Biggs
Gage Skidmore/CC BY 2.0
Andy Biggs of Arizona speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland.

Attorneys for U.S. Reps. Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar and Arizona Rep. Mark Finchem told a Maricopa County judge he has no authority to bar any of the officials from running for office based on a provision in the U.S. Constitution.

All three Republicans are either seeking reelection or running for higher office in 2022. And all three are having their candidacy challenged by a national organization, Free Speech for People, which argues none are legally qualified to hold office and therefore cannot run for office.

Attorneys for Biggs, Gosar and Finchem filed motions to dismiss the challenges. On Wednesday morning, they told Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Christopher Coury that none of the Republicans are insurrectionists, as the challenges claim.

Biggs, for example, is alleged to have played a role in planning a pro-Trump rally that preceded the deadly storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 — an allegation his attorney denied.

“Even if that were correct, organizing the ellipse rally does not support an inference of… I think what they say in the complaint is that he planned the insurrection, or planned events knowing that it will lead to the insurrection,” said Kory Langhofer, Biggs’ attorney. “Planning a rally and planning an insurrection are very different things.”

Jack Wilenchik, an attorney for Finchem, a candidate for secretary of state, told Coury that a state or county court has no jurisdiction over charges of insurrection. 

Paul Gosa
Gage Skidmore/CC BY 2.0
Paul Gosar speaking with attendees at an event hosted by the Defend America Foundation at the Scottsdale Gun Club in Scottsdale in September 2021.

Wilenchik said only Congress can enforce Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which states an individual is disqualified from office if they “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States.

“If somebody’s convicted of insurrection or rebellion (by Congress), they can be barred from office,” Wilenchik said. “Defendant Finchem has not been convicted of any such crime.”

Jim Barton, an attorney for several local voters acting as plaintiffs, told the judge they’re not alleging that Biggs, Gosar and Finchem “committed a crime, per se” — just that they engaged in the meaning of insurrection as described by the U.S. Constitution.

“We're alleging that they were involved in something, they engaged in something that was an uprising against the federal authority of the United States and targeting a core constitutional function of the United States,” he said.

Barton asked Coury to reject the motions to dismiss and allow the cases to proceed to trial, where “when it comes to to prove our allegations, we are prepared to do that.”

Mark Finchem
Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services
Mark Finchem

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