Former U.S. President Donald Trump addresses supporters during a "Save America" rally at York Family Farms on August 21, 2021 in Cullman, Alabama. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.Former President Trump just endorsed a QAnon-loving leader of the conspiratorial “Stop the Steal” movement to run the elections of a key swing state.On Monday, Trump threw his support to Arizona state Rep. Mark Finchem in his quest to become Arizona’s secretary of state.
“It is my great honor to endorse a true warrior, Representative Mark Finchem, of the Great State of Arizona, for the position of Secretary of State. He is a patriot who has fought for our Country right from his earliest moments in government,” Trump said, praising Finchem for “his incredibly powerful stance on the massive Voter Fraud that took place in the 2020 Presidential Election Scam.”Finchem is an ardent Trump supporter who has been key in backing Arizona’s bogus election “audit”—his nonprofit has reportedly been paid $400,000 for audit security—and vocal in his insistence that widespread election fraud deprived Trump of a reelection victory last fall. He’s also touted QAnon conspiracy theories and has past ties to a militia group.As pro-Trump rioters overran the U.S. Capitol on January 6, he took a photo from outside the building and tweeted it with the caption “What happens when the People feel they have been ignored, and Congress refuses to acknowledge rampant fraud.”He was intimately involved in the early Stop the Steal efforts as well, working closely with Stop the Steal founder Ali Alexander and organizing an unofficial hearing with Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani to drum up suspicions about Trump’s Arizona election loss.
“Arizona started with one man, state Representative Mark Finchem, and he’s become a great friend and a brother to me,” Alexander said in an interview with Church Militant before the January 6 riots.In addition to supporting Stop the Steal, Finchem has promoted QAnon’s core conspiracy theory about the proliferation of child sex trafficking.“They're finding so many kids. We’ve got a serious problem in this nation. And that's one of the things that disturbs me so much about our current congressional state of affairs. There's a lot of people involved in a pedophile network and the distribution of children, and that makes me absolutely sick,” he said during a March 4 appearance on the religious conservative network Victory News. “And unfortunately, there's a whole lot of elected officials that are involved in that.”He also has had past ties to the Oath Keepers, an anti-government militia that had multiple members arrested after January 6.Republicans have been very worried that Finchem will doom their chances in a key race in the swing state next fall—one of a number of pro-Trump candidates they’re worried could hurt them in the general election.“If he wins the primary, we’re done,” one conservative Arizona GOP strategist told VICE News in April, warning that Democrats and the media would make Finchem the “gross uncle” of the GOP.