Arizona County Republican Leader Threatened to ‘Lynch’ Election Official

A Republican in Arizona’s largest county threatened to “lynch” the county’s top election official during a public event three months ago, according to a newly discovered video clip circulating on social media.

The election official, Maricopa County Clerk Stephen Richer, posted a video of the comment to X on Monday. In it, Maricopa Republican Party Vice Chair Shelby Busch singles out one of the opponents of Richer’s re-election campaign as a “good Christian.” She then compares him to Richer, who is Jewish.

“If Stephen Richer walked into this room, I would lynch him,” Busch says in the video. “I do not unite with people who do not believe in the principles that we believe in and in the American cause that founded this country.”

In a statement to POLITICO on Tuesday, Busch said the remark “was a joke.”

“Everyone knows I don’t like Richer,” Busch wrote. “The statement was a joke and made as a joke. I do not and will never tolerate violence against anyone. It was hyperbole.

The remark was made during a March 20 campaign event in Mesa, Arizona, for the Republican Party. Jeron Davisonwho is running for a seat in the United States House of Representatives, and was first streamed live on conservative social media platform Rumble. Davison Monday defended Busch on X as a “woman of faith” and said she did not express “any kind of racial hatred.”

“No one ever knew or cared whether you were Jewish or not,” Davison wrote to Richer.

Richer was made aware of the video of Busch’s remark this weekend. He told POLITICO he hasn’t received any communication or apology from her since the video was posted online.

“I don’t think the word lynching should be part of your vocabulary,” Richer said in an interview Tuesday, emphasizing that Busch’s sentiment should not be supported by the Republican Party.

Busch’s comments drew condemnation from the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Phoenix, which noted that Richer was Jewish and condemned “extremists” on for having amplified “his hatred of the Jews”.

Richer’s opponent who Busch called a “good Christian” at the event, Don Hiatt, did not respond to a request for comment.

Busch’s remarks come amid intensifying rhetoric against Arizona election officials, who are “in the crosshairs” of continued threats, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. said earlier this year. Busch is an activist with We the People AZ Alliance, a conservative group that falsely claimed the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump and was cited in the past by Senate candidate Kari Lake. Richer has worked publicly to combat conspiracy theories about the Arizona election, including thanks to an alliance with the state’s Democratic secretary of state.

Richer noted that Busch’s rhetoric was particularly sensitive in Maricopa County, after an Iowa man was jailed last year after threatening to lynch the county’s Republican supervisor because he didn’t hadn’t done…

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