Watchdog Says Organizer of Capitol Protest Turned Riot 'Received Explicit Support' from 2 GOP Reps

An ethics watchdog organization is alleging that two Republican members of Congress gave "explicit support" to at least one organizer behind the rally that later led to a riot at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6.

In an investigation request addressed to the House Office of Congressional Ethics on Friday, the Campaign for Accountability requested a probe to determine whether the alleged actions of Reps. Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar of Arizona were in violation of federal law. The complaint also mentioned Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, who was similarly accused of actions that the organization wrote "may have violated laws prohibiting sedition and insurrection."

Biggs' deputy chief of staff, Daniel Stefanski, denied Biggs' involvement in the events that led to the riots in a statement shared with Newsweek. Newsweek contacted Gosar's and Cawthorn's offices for comment but did not receive responses in time for publication.

Paul Gosar watchdog calls for investigation
An ethics watchdog organization called for an investigation into three GOP congressional lawmakers on Friday, two of whom the organization alleges provided "explicit support" to at least one organizer behind the Capitol riots on January 6. In the photo above, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) objects to the certification of the electoral votes for the state of Arizona on January 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Win McNamee/Getty

Congressional lawmakers convened in Washington, D.C. on January 6 to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election. Objections to the Electoral College results were expected following former President Donald Trump's vocal support for baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, which have been widely debunked. Following a "Save America" rally at which Trump spoke nearby, protesters marched to the Capitol and broke into the building, forcing congressional legislators into lockdown and resulting in the deaths of four civilians and one police officer. Congress certified Joe Biden as the 46th president hours later, once law enforcement officials regained control of the building.

Ali Alexander, one of the activists behind the Capitol rally, previously credited Biggs and Gosar with helping him plan a pressure campaign to halt the certification of Electoral College results, according to The Washington Post. Alexander "received explicit support from Representatives Gosar and Biggs," the Campaign for Accountability said in a Friday news release.

The release went on to specify what their alleged assistance to Alexander entailed. The details included a video Biggs allegedly created that Alexander used at an event held on behalf of Trump last month, which the organization said encouraged supporters to "take action to prevent certification." Meanwhile, Gosar tweeted a message that read, "Who is joining me?" on January 5 to accompany an advertisement for the "Save America" rally. The flyer featured Gosar's name in the bottom left corner and read, "The time is now. Hold the line," along with the date of the rally and the hashtag "#FightforTrump."

Who is joining me?

— Paul Gosar (@DrPaulGosar) January 4, 2021

Cawthorn, who spoke at the rally before protesters descended on the Capitol, later told Smoky Mountain News that he was armed inside the Capitol as protesters were breaking in. The Campaign for Accountability said it asked the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia to investigate Cawthorn for potential firearms violations following his admission about carrying a weapon inside the chamber.

"Representatives Gosar, Biggs and Cawthorn deliberately misled Trump supporters and actively encouraged them to believe they could stop the certification of the election results," Executive Director Michelle Kuppersmith of the Campaign for Accountability said in the organization's release. "Their words helped light the match, resulting in death and destruction at the U.S. Capitol."

Members of Biggs' family have said Biggs is "at least partially to blame" for the January 6 riots and called for his removal, according to The Arizona Republic. Gosar also has family members who have called for his removal, and protesters in North Carolina called for Cawthorn to resign earlier this week, according to WXII-TV.

At the conclusion of its complaint, the Campaign for Accountability encouraged the Office of Congressional Ethics to recommend the three congressmen be expelled from the House if the office finds evidence of the listed violations.

When asked about the organization's allegations against Biggs, Stefanski told Newsweek, "Our office has been crystal clear from the beginning that Rep. Biggs had nothing to do with the events outside of the U.S. Capitol on January 6."

Biggs "did not organize or participate in any way in rallies or protests for January 6," Stefanski said. "He was solely focused on his preparation to debate issues of election integrity on the House floor that morning, which was consistent with congressional Democrats' attempts during previous Electoral College counts. He did nothing wrong, and he has nothing to hide. The left and the mainstream media will not be able to distract Rep. Biggs from his work, nor silence his conservative voice based on blatantly false allegations."