American Oversight is investigating reports of government officials from across the country having participated in the Jan. 6 rally and subsequent deadly mob attack on the U.S. Capitol in support of then-President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
On Jan. 6, 2021, a heavily armed mob invaded the U.S. Capitol in a violent attack that left five people, including one Capitol Police officer, dead. The riot happened after thousands had been riled up by then-President Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally, in which his supporters repeated the lies of a fraudulent election in the service of his attempt to overturn the results of the election. Jan. 6 raised a slew of questions not just about government and law enforcement preparation for and response to the violence — and about the former president’s incitement of the seditious actions, for which he faced his second impeachment — but also about the participation of state lawmakers and local officials in the day’s events.
American Oversight has filed a number of open records requests, including in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and other states, to learn more about how those government officials participated in or promoted what quickly became a violent insurrection.
In West Virginia, we filed a records request with the state legislature for communications about the events sent by or to Derrick Evans, then a state delegate. Evans was one of the individuals charged with crimes related to the Capitol assault, and resigned after filming himself storming the building with other rioters on Jan. 6.
Michigan lawmakers have called for the expulsion of State Rep. Matt Maddock, who helped spread false claims about election fraud in the run-up to Jan. 6 and addressed crowds in D.C. the day before. Maddock had been vocal in his attempts to thwart his state’s certification of election results from his own state, and his wife, Meshawn Maddock, is a top Michigan Republican who reportedly helped organize buses to the rally. We filed a request for Maddock’s travel expenses related to the event.
In Pennsylvania, we requested campaign expense records from State Sen. Doug Mastriano, who reportedly helped organize a bus of supporters to the Jan. 6 rally and faced calls for his resignation. And Ohio Board of Education member Kirsten Hill participated in the rally and promoted a bus trip for the event through a local “TEA Party” event page she runs. We sent a request to the Ohio Department of Education for Hill email’s communications about the events.
Local officials in California are also facing calls to resign after attending the Jan. 6 rally — including Whittier City Council member Jessica Martinez and Leandra Blades, a member of the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified Board of Education in Orange County. We’re seeking records of both of their related communications.
In Arizona, we’re seeking email communications of State Rep. Mark Finchem, who participated in the demonstration and has since spread conspiracy theories about antifascist agitators being behind the violence. We’re also seeking communications about the events from Maryland State Del. Daniel Cox and Missouri State Rep. Justin Hill, who both reportedly attended the rally before the attack — the latter skipping his own swearing-in to do so.
The attack was incited by Trump and his dangerous lies about widespread voter fraud. But his incendiary rhetoric had the support of multiple members of state and local governments, and the public deserves answers about their participation in or support for what amounted to a seditious attempt to overthrow the U.S. government.