Earlier this week, we reported on a recent event in Arizona in which Stewart Rhodes, founder of the anti-government group Oath Keepers, called for Sen. John McCain to be “hung by the neck until dead” for unspecified offenses against the Constitution. Sitting directly next to Rhodes as he made the remark was Andy Biggs, the Republican president of Arizona’s state senate, who is now facing questions from the local press about his participation in the event.
Biggs acknowledges that he was present at the event, a regular “Liberty on Tap” discussion hosted by the Arizona Freedom Caucus, but told reporters that he had confused the Oath Keepers with Promise Keepers, a Christian men’s organization. When asked why he didn’t say anything after Rhodes called for McCain’s execution, Biggs said it would have been a violation of the Oath Keepers head’s “free-speech rights” for him to contradict him:
Biggs told The Republic he was the first speaker on the program and spoke for 30 minutes to 35 minutes. A panel was invited to talk about the need for a constitutional convention and Biggs was invited because he has written a book outlining his objections to such a convention.
He said he didn't know who or what the Oath Keepers are, initially confusing them with "Promise Keepers," a ministry for men. He added that he did not know Rhodes, and thought he was being invited by "an Arizona liberty group."
Biggs said he doesn't agree with Rhodes' comments, but said he didn't feel it was his place to speak up and denounce him.
"Good grief! Stop it with your free-speech rights," he said, imagining what he could have said to Rhodes.
He said he wasn't sure when Rhodes made his inflammatory comments but, "Your ears perk up when someone says something like that."
This isn’t the first time an Arizona politician has flirted with far-right, anti-government groups at the same series of events. Last year, then-Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne attended a “Liberty on Tap” event promoting the Constitutional Counties Project, an endeavor supported by the Arizona Liberty Caucus, that seeks to establish county governments that “interpose” against federal authority by defying federal laws that county officials believe to be unconstitutional.
Since then, former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack, the head of a “constitutional sheriffs” organization, has volunteered to run for office in the project’s guinea pig county. Mack also spoke at the recent event with Biggs and Rhodes, where he suggested one thing that states and counties could do to resist federal authority is to “nullify” the federal income tax.
Below is the video of Rhodes' remarks. At the beginning, you can see Biggs sitting immediately to his left.