Republican AGs Deny Backing D.C. Rally That Led to Riot
(Bloomberg) -- The leader of a Republican attorneys general group sought to distance his organization from Wednesday’s deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump, saying staffers’ decision to be involved in a rally before the riot wasn’t authorized.
The Rule of Law Defense Fund, an offshoot of the Republican Attorneys General Association, was listed as a participant in the “March to Save America” gathering in Washington that turned into a violent raid on the Capitol after Trump and other addressed the crowd, according to an archived web link for organizers of the event which has since been taken down.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, who leads the Rule of Law Defense Fund, which promotes federalism, said in an emailed statement on Friday that he didn’t know the fund was involved.
“Despite currently transitioning into my role as the newly elected chairman of RLDF, it is unacceptable that I was neither consulted about nor informed of those decisions,” Marshall said in the statement.
The group’s link to the event was first reported on Jan. 7 by the watchdog group Documented, which tracks the influence of corporate money, saying RLDF helped organize the event. That claim was denied in a statement Friday by the group’s executive director, Adam Piper.
“No Republican AG authorized the staff’s decision to amplify a colleague speaking at the event,” Piper said. “Organizationally and individually, we strongly condemn and disavow the events which occurred.”
The Democratic Attorneys General Association’s co-chairs, Massachusetts AG Maura Healey and Nevada AG Aaron Ford, blasted their GOP counterparts on Friday, accusing RAGA and the Rule of Law Defense Fund of contributing to the atmosphere that led to the riot by peddling conspiracy theories and “pandering to President Trump’s dangerous lies” about election fraud.
“Current and former Republican AGs have been directly involved with efforts to undermine the results of the 2020 presidential election, and now the party of so-called ‘law and order’ played a role in recruiting the domestic terrorists who breached the U.S. Capitol,” Healey and Ford said in the statement.
Ford said in a phone interview that RAGA’s attempt to distance itself from the rally isn’t believable, especially after the Republican organization and its members for weeks pushed the false voter-fraud conspiracy that led to the protest being planned.
“They have been participating overtly in this effort and now they’re scapegoating their employee -- that should not be an excuse,” Ford said. “Accountability is in order for all of these Republican attorneys general.”
RAGA condemned the Capitol raid the day it occurred, as did many Republican officials who had previously amplified claims that Democrats had conspired to thwart democracy.
The Democratic AGs said their Republican counterparts “paid for robocalls to recruit attendees” and the group “was listed as a sponsor of the event.”
The Democrats in particular criticized Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who took legal action to block Biden’s victory and spoke at the Washington event. Paxton joined Trump in telling agitated rally participants that the election had been stolen and that “we will not quit fighting,” the Houston Chronicle reported.
Paxton’s press office didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, elected last year as RAGA chairman, didn’t have any knowledge or involvement in the decision to fund the Wednesday event and is working to find out what happened, his office said in a statement. Notably, Carr’s office defended other Georgia officials whom Trump sued unsuccessfully to reverse his election loss in the state.
“The stance of the protesters was not consistent with Attorney General Carr’s position on election fraud,” according to the statement.
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