Arizona State Sen. Wendy Rogers censured amid controversy over white nationalist conference speech

The Arizona Senate voted March 1 to censure Republican Wendy Rogers, whose embrace of white nationalism and calls for violence drew condemnation from across the political spectrum.

Here's what you need to know about the censure of a controversial state lawmaker.

Who is Wendy Rogers?

Rogers is a State Senator who represents Arizona's 6th Legislative District, which covers portions of Coconino, Gila, Navajo, and Yavapai Counties.

According to her profile on the Arizona State Senate website, Rogers had a career in the air force, and retired from service in 1996 to start a home inspection business.

Rogers was elected with support from the state’s GOP establishment, which poured money into her 2020 race to secure the GOP’s one-seat majority in the Senate.

Although Rogers is in her first term in elected office, she has built a national profile among the far right with inflammatory rhetoric and vociferous support for former President Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him. She has long faced fierce opposition from Democrats and a handful of Republicans for offensive comments on social media.

Rogers, meanwhile, has parlayed her national profile into fundraising prowess, raising unprecedented amounts of money for a state legislative race.

What led to the censure?

The censure officially says Rogers engaged in conduct unbecoming of a senator, and among other things, made threatening statements.

The censure of Rogers, believed to be the first censure of an Arizona lawmaker in decades, was based formally on her threats to hang political opponents.

Pressure mounted within the GOP this week after she said over the weekend that her political opponents should face a "newly built set of gallows." She spoke at the America First Political Action Conference, a white nationalist gathering.

Rogers has also tweeted criticism of Ukraine and its president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, as they fight back against a Russian invasion.

What was the outcome of the censure vote?

The censure was approved in a 24-3 vote, with all Democrats and most Republicans in support. Rogers stood as Senate Majority Leader Rick Gray read the censure aloud.

"We do support First Amendment freedom of speech," said Republican Senate President Karen Fann. "We absolutely support it. We fight battles over it. But what we do not condone is members threatening each other. To ruin each other. To incite violence. To call us communists. We don’t do that to each other."

"It's not a sweet grandmother. It's someone who has gleefully called white nationalists patriots, called for hanging political enemies," said State Sen. Rebecca Rios.

Has Rogers spoken out about the censure?


On the morning of March 1, prior to her censure vote, Rogers tweeted "today is the day we find out if the Communists throw the sweet grandma under the bus for being white."

Following the censure vote, she portrayed the act as an attack on her constituents and her supporters.

"You’re really censuring them," Rogers said. "I do not apologize. I will not back down. And I’m sorely disappointed in the leadership of this body for colluding with the Democrats to attempt to destroy my reputation."

She sat and listened, often smiling, while her colleagues condemned her.

What have other politicians said about Rogers' censure?

Governor Doug Ducey has issued a statement on Rogers' censure, which reads:

"Anti-Semitic and hateful language has no place in Arizona. I have categorically condemned it in the past and condemn it now. I strongly believe our public policy debates should be about creating opportunity for all and making our state a better place, not denigrating and insulting any individual or group. I believe the vote taken today by the Arizona Senate sends a clear message: rhetoric like this is unacceptable.

"These are incredibly divided times, but picking a side in the fight to protect western democracy is an easy call. It’s Putin versus freedom. I will always side with freedom. I believe any statement supporting Russia’s actions in Ukraine is not only ill-advised, but wrong and dangerous."

However, Ducey said a week prior that Rogers is "still better than her opponent."

"What I need as a governor are governing majorities," Ducey told reporters.

Are there calls for more drastic actions to be taken? 

Some Democrats said censure was insufficient, and called for expelling Rogers from the chamber.

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.

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