Mark Finchem on Aug. 2, 2022, at an election night party for Kari Lake. (Photo by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy ||Arizona Mirror)
Arizona took the stage at Mike Lindell’s election conspiracy conference this week, as a former GOP legislator and a local election denialist made a litany of fact-free claims about supposed malfeasance in the state’s elections — all while the leader of the Maricopa County Republican Party watched from the crowd.
Mark Finchem, a former state legislator and a failed candidate for secretary of state, took the stage Aug. 16 at an event put on by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell in which the pillow mogul, whose business has been on the decline after years of promoting election conspiracies, spread falsehoods about the election and touted likely illegal “solutions” to ferret out perceived fraud in the election.
“There is a lucrative movement out there whose purpose is to confuse voters and to encourage them to give up on the system,” Joanna Lydgate, president and CEO of States United Democracy Center, a nonpartisan organization aimed at protecting free and fair elections, told the Arizona Mirror.
The Lindell event featured a slew of celebrities within the election fraud world, and behind Lindell and the speakers was prominent text directing viewers to a website where viewers were urged to donate to help Lindell in his efforts. Finchem, a Republican who represented the Tucson area during his time at the state Capitol, promoted his similar organization during his appearance at the event.
The “Election Fairness Institute” was featured prominently in slides presented to the audience during his presentation, though he never mentioned that he founded and runs the nonprofit organization. Finchem, who currently has filed to run for the state Senate in Yavapai County’s District 1, has appeared on QAnon talk shows promoting the organization and raising money from the conspiracy adherents.
Finchem is currently also facing multiple sanctions for election lawsuits and a failed defamation case he brought against a former Democratic lawmaker. Finchem has used these sanctions as fundraising appeals, and his secretary of state campaign brought in a record-breaking amount of money. Much of his support came from across the nation, not Arizona, including the anti-government Oath Keepers militia members.
“You know you’re over the target though when they sanction you for everything,” Finchem told the crowd at Lindell’s event. “So, this is going to be the third case I’m going to be sanctioned for for simply standing up and using my First Amendment rights.”