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Paul Gosar: MTG In Lifts

An insurrection-planning, white-nationalist-collaborating congressman remains uncensored and unchallenged. Why?
March 5, 2021
Paul Gosar: MTG In Lifts
UNITED STATES - APRIL 18: Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., walks down the House steps after final votes of the week on Wednesday, April 18, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A congressman plotted with domestic terrorists to plan the deadly January 6 “Stop the Steal” rally with the stated purpose of putting “maximum pressure” on Congress to vote to overturn the election.

This same member of Congress spoke at a gathering put on by avowed white nationalists that was explicitly designed as a counter to the weak-tea MAGA stuff at CPAC. Previously, this member said that George Soros planned the Charlottesville alt-right rally as a false flag to hurt Donald Trump. He proposed that Joe Biden was planning to fake a disease in order to allow Kamala Harris to take over the presidency. He also claimed (repeatedly) that the Dominion Voting Systems algorithm rigged the election.

We’re not talking about one of the newly minted, Q-Anon friendly, MAGA representatives.

We’re talking about Arizona’s Paul Gosar: MTG in lifts.

For the past decade, either by design or luck, Gosar has managed to slide through the crevices of our political outrage industry, his conspiracy-mongering and race-baiting always falling just short of the imaginary line over which a politician becomes a national joke.

Sure, Gosar was widely mocked when his siblings taped a withering ad in support of his opponent during the last election. And at home in Arizona, he and his conspiratorial MAGA comrades Andy Biggs, Kelli Ward, and Sheriff Joe Arpaio have gained notoriety and plunged the party into the abyss. But the space laser of outrage has never sparked a Gosar firestorm large enough to turn him into a household name.

Part of the explanation for Gosar’s relative anonymity is structural. During the last round of redistricting (in 2012) he emigrated from the swingy Arizona 1st congressional district to the conservative Arizona 4th and faced an easier than expected primary after his opponent, Sheriff Paul Babeu, was outed as gay.

Thanks to his new ruby-red district, Democrats haven’t made a concerted effort to target Gosar. And since he’s never caused the Republicans a Steve King-style media headache, he hasn’t gotten an intra-party challenge in the vein of Randy Feenstra.

The Arizona Republic asked this week why no Republicans have condemned Gosar’s latest bout of crazy. But the answer seems pretty obvious: In the modern GOP, palling around with white nationalists is fine as long as you don’t do anything really crazy like say something mean about Donald Trump. Because that’s the kind of thing that will get you censured.

As a result, I contacted several Democratic and establishment Republican groups likely to be at odds with Gosar to see if any had plans to try to oust him. Crickets.

Which is shocking, if not surprising, given a track record that makes him one of the most, if not the most, radical members of the United States Congress.

In 2009, Paul Gosar was a simple Flagstaff dentist who got mixed up in the high-stakes game of world diplomacy and international intrigue through his role as the chairman of the American Dental Association’s Council on Government Affairs. (This is a true story.)

As the association’s key man in Washington, Gosar had the good fortune of being introduced to fellow dentist Rob Robinson, a man who had cared for the teeth and gums of locals in a little Alaska town called Wasilla. You may have heard of it.

Robinson, as it turned out, had a sterling dental reputation in the last frontier and had become friendly with Wasilla’s most famous resident, Sarah Palin. Who, during the 2010 campaign cycle, was a conservative kingmaker.

Palin put her endorsement bullseye on Gosar on the mesial advice of Robinson and after being impressed by Gosar’s shovel lapel pin. (Again: true story.) This gave Gosar’s campaign the jolt it needed to best a field of eight contenders with 31 percent of the vote. Gosar then rode the Tea Party wave to Washington, scoring a narrow victory over Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick. Once Gosar got to Washington, he knew where his teeth were whitened. He made his Palin dentist hook-up his office’s chief of staff.

And the rest is history: Gosar’s office became a hostile environment for immigrants, Muslims, members of the Soros family, reality-based humans, and anti-dentites.

During the Obama years, Gosar latched on to all the standard-issue conspiracies of the conservative fever swamps: climate change denialism, birtherism, and the possibility that Eric Holder might be an accessory to murder for his role in Fast and Furious. You name it.

But it wasn’t until Donald Trump ascended to the White House that Gosar really let his freak flag fly.

In 2017, Gosar offered the most creative defense of Trump’s insistence that “very fine people” were at the neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville. He suggested that the Unite the Right event was actually a leftist psyop funded by George Soros to make Trump look bad. How would Mr. Soros have known that his trap would work and that Trump would side with the tiki torch skinheads? Well, those rootless cosmopolitans are pretty crafty!

This mashugana later went on CNN to defend his mishegas (points for chutzpah!) and during the interview said that his “proof” that Soros funded the rally “would be coming. Check my website out. . . . Stay tuned.”

He later posted a press release titled “The Truth About Soros: You decide” that focused only on Gosar’s theory that Soros was a Jewish blood traitor. It linked to a now-defunct podcast by a local Trump supporter named Darin Damme. If only the Deep State Cancel Culture hadn’t gotten to Damme, then we might finally know the truth!

Anyway, Charlottesville was Gosar’s launch pad into a series of increasingly bizarre, offensive, outrageous, and shameless MAGA maneuvers. He flew to London to speak at a rally on behalf of far-right bigot Tommy Robinson, in which he lambasted Muslims. He called on Capitol Police to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants who attended the State of the Union as guests of Democrats.

But Gosar’s recklessness reached its apotheosis after the November 2020 election as he took a leading role in advancing the Big Lie and plotting with the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol.

Jim Arroyo, the head of the Arizona Oath Keepers, said in a November video that the militia group had met twice in the past with Gosar and that at one meeting Gosar said the country was in a civil war, but that “We just haven’t started shooting yet.”

Gosar echoed that theme at a Stop the Steal rally in Arizona in mid-December. Arizona’s election results had already been certified, but he nevertheless implored the maskless crowd to “bombard the county supervisors. . . . Make sure they know we are not going away. Make sure we get a fair and legal election.”

He continued:

We know exactly what we’re doing. Let’s show the country what we’re made of. Live Free or Die. . . . You know what. Imagine this. You get to go back home once you come from the Hill, Donald Trump’s returned to being president. And amazing things will happen with four more years.

In giving this speech, Gosar knew exactly what they had in mind for that afternoon on “the Hill”—because he was one of the organizers of it.

According to his co-conspirator Ali Alexander (née Akbar), a long-time scammer and conspiracy-monger who was one of the main organizers of the Stop the Steal movement, the idea for the January 6 event was hatched in concert with Gosar, fellow Arizona congressman Andy Biggs, and Alabama Republican Mo Brooks.

“We four schemed up putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting,” Alexander said in a since-deleted video first flagged by the Project on Government Oversight.

Gosar’s spearheading of the gathering that led to the insurrection came at the conclusion of a months-long media blitz in which he attempted to demonstrate that the election had been stolen from former President Trump.

In an interview with pardoned con artist and former racist blog chairman “Sloppy” Steve Bannon, Gosar described a statistical analysis that he had personally procured which found that the election had “anomalies that can never happen.” He claimed that the likelihood that some of the election returns were accurate were “for example, one in a quadrillion billion.”

A quadrillion billion you say? That sounds scientific! Although, in fairness, I contacted a 2nd grader yesterday who said according to her research, the likelihood that Biden was the winner was “infinity plus one.” For those of us without a Ph.D. in theoretical math, it’s hard to know which number to believe.

But Sloppy Steve—never really a “math” guy—was pretty impressed. So much so that he called Gosar the “thought leader of the nationalist populist movement.” Which is kinda like being the pussy slayer of the gay men’s chorus. It’s nice to be recognized, sure. But not really?

That interview with Bannon was just one stop on a two-month tour of crazytown that included appearances on Newsmax, OANN, Lou Dobbs, the Epoch Times, and others. In all of these interviews, Gosar pushed the Big Lie, advanced debunked conspiracy theories about Dominion Voting Systems (which he called Dominican Voting Systems in early interviews), and repeatedly claimed that there was an algorithm that was used to switch votes from Trump to Biden.

(In the Dobbs exchange, Gosar covered much of the ground that the host was forced to backtrack on in the hilarious CYA hostage interview that was aired before he was pushed out of the network.)

In the aftermath of his failed coup attempt, Gosar continued to claim that the election was stolen and allied himself with the extremist organizations that underpinned the insurrection.

Which is what led him, finally, to the speech he gave last Friday—an address to a white-nationalist group. The group, a CPAC splinter called “AFPAC,” is a collection of young white nationalists led by Nick Fuentes. Gosar had previously elevated the group on social media; he later defended his decision to appear with them by saying “There is a group of young people that are becoming part of the election process, and becoming a bigger force, so why not take that energy and listen to what they’ve got to say?” Yesterday Gosar added, “They wanted to hear my take.”

Suffer the little white nationalists and forbid them not to come unto Paul Gosar: For such is the kingdom of MAGA.

Taken all together, what we have in Gosar is a man who has trafficked in racist and bigoted conspiracies for as long as he has been in Congress culminating in an effort to plot a coup alongside domestic terrorists who went on to storm the Capitol and assassinate a police officer.

The only differences between Gosar and Marjorie Taylor Greene are that he’s a man, he’s not as camera-ready, and his conspiracies don’t have the fanciful frazzledrippian flair.

Everything else: samesies.

Yet there is no movement to unseat him. No complaint from the conservative stalwarts who lecture anyone who dares argue that there might be merit in working with Joe Biden. No state party censures. No nothing.

A traitor and white-nationalist collaborator sits in Congress undeterred, unchallenged, a member in good standing of the Grand Old Party.

And that’s the real scourge.

Tim Miller

Tim Miller is The Bulwark’s writer-at-large and the author of the best-selling book Why We Did It: A Travelogue from the Republican Road to Hell. He was previously political director for Republican Voters Against Trump and communications director for Jeb Bush 2016.