America’s Voice backgrounder: “Despite Lamb’s dangerous extremism, or maybe because of it, Republicans have continued to elevate him”
Washington, DC – Sheriff Mark Lamb of Pinal County, AZ is one of the Republican witnesses at this morning’s House Homeland Security committee hearing – once again signaling Republicans’ comfort with giving a platform to a witness that has openly espoused white nationalist and election conspiracy theories.
In a new research backgrounder available here, America’s Voice provides key details on Mark Lamb (see more about the Homeland Security hearing in our preview statement from yesterday: here). Among the key excerpts from the new Mark Lamb backgrounder:
On promoting the white nationalist great replacement conspiracy theory:
“‘I’ve been saying there’s been an invasion for a long time,’ Lamb said in a Newsmax interview in July 2022, describing in dehumanizing martial terms the migrants seeking asylum and safety at the US/Mexico border.
This language of invasion refers to the white nationalist great replacement conspiracy theory. A racist fiction that has been the inspiration for multiple acts of political violence and domestic terrorism over the last several years. It was chanted in the streets of Charlottesville in 2017, posted online before a man murdered 11 in Pittsburgh in 2018, shared in racist screeds before the murder in Poway and the murder of 23 in El Paso in 2019, believed by those who attacked the Capitol in 2021, and copied by the gunman who killed ten people in Buffalo in May 2022. Dr. Heidi Beirich, the co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, draws a direct connection between the rhetoric and the violence, saying, ‘When migrants are described as invaders, that leads to violence,’ she said. ‘Because how else does one stop an invasion?’
But Lamb has repeatedly parroted this deadly conspiracy theory over the last two years. Throughout the 2022 midterms, Lamb frequently employed the racist fiction as he helped promote other Republican candidates. ‘We’ve seen an invasion at the border…crippling our communities and destroying American lives,’ Lamb wrote in an endorsement for battleground Republican Eli Crane.”
On Lamb’s ties to hate groups and extremists:
“Lamb is a leader in the far-right ‘constitutional sheriffs’ movement, an update of an old idea with deep connections to violence and bigotry. The outlandish idea is that county sheriffs’ law enforcement authority supersedes that of states and the federal government arguing they get to decide what laws to enforce. Lamb has close ties to Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA). Richard Mack, who founded CSPOA in 2011, was on the board of Oath Keepers, whose founder, Stewart Rhodes was found guilty of seditious conspiracy for his involvement in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6. CSPOA’s current CEO Sam Bushman hosted Rhodes on his show Liberty Roundtable on January 5. Bushman also syndicates a different white nationalist show. One of CSPOA’s current advisory board members is Michael Peroutka, who was a member of the racist neo-Confederate organization the League of the South. Mack told Politico that Lamb ‘is a Constitutional Sheriff and is one of the best sheriffs in America.’ Even in an open letter from CSPOA urging Governor Greg Abbot to declare an invasion, they stated that ‘in agreement with… Sheriff Mark Lamb of Pinal County…declare the existence of an invasion on its border with Mexico and take necessary actions to preserve and protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Texas’
Experts warn that Lamb’s relatively new group, Protect America Now, is mainly a way to repackage the ideas of CSPOA. ‘That was our biggest concern, that in essence, it was mainstreaming the same ideas that CSPOA had but was doing so with much more conscious branding and public-facing appeal,’ said Devin Burghart, president and executive director of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights.
Lamb’s new packaging is, however, just a layer of plastic wrap over the dangerous bigotry in the so-called ‘constitutional sheriffs’ movement. Protect America Now promotes Lamb’s use of the ‘invasion’ rhetoric and many of its members, including Lamb, work hand-and-hand with the Southern Poverty Law Center designated hate group, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). In September 2022, an advisory board member of Protect America Now attended FAIR’s 2022 conference. In February 2019, Lamb appeared on FAIR’s podcast, and in July 2021 was a featured speaker at FAIR’s rally at the border.”
On denying the 2020 election:
“Lamb is also a fervent 2020 election denier and conspiracy theorist who aligned himself with Arizona Republicans loudly peddling the lies about voter fraud. In 2022, Lamb helped facilitate an official partnership between the far-right election conspiracy group True the Vote and his Protect America Now group, raising $10,000 to fund efforts to have sheriffs surveil ballot drop boxes. According to the Arizona Mirror, Richard Mack met with the Arizona Oath Keepers for a partnership between Lamb and True the Vote.
Lamb has also downplayed the violent coup attempt and the attack on the US Capitol building on January 6. Lamb called the insurrectionists who attacked the Capitol ‘very loving, Christian people’ who ‘just happen to support President Trump a lot.’ Lamb also spoke at a local companion ‘stop the steal’ rally on January 6 in Arizona.
He is a fellow at the Claremont Institute alongside John Eastman, who is infamous for the central role he played in Trump’s failed 2020 coup attempt. Unperturbed by this association, Lamb accepted an award from the institute in November 2022.
On appearing in Republican political ads:
“In the 2022 midterms, Lamb, whose county is not in fact at the border, was the go-to tour guide for the southern border for GOP candidates who have made nativist demagoguery the centerpiece of their campaigns. Lamb took his supporting role seriously and appeared in many nativist GOP political ads.
Lamb was featured in the infamous ad from failed Arizona GOP candidate Jim Lamon, which depicted the candidate shooting at actors portraying President Biden, then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and Senator Mark Kelly. As a reminder, Sen. Kelly’s wife was shot in a horrific act of political violence in 2011, and Speaker Pelosi’s husband was also horrifically attacked in his home later in 2022 as a domestic terrorist sought out the then-Speaker.
In late October 2022, Lamb cut a TV ad for the Kari Lake campaign using hyperbolic language that claimed Arizona ‘is under attack.’ Earlier in an August endorsement of the Lake campaign, Lamb was explicit that Lake’s adoption of the white nationalist ‘invasion’ conspiracy was key to his support noting her ‘plan would declare an invasion at the Southern Border.’
Lamb appeared in a series of political ads with Arizona Republicans that peddled the white nationalist ‘invasion’ and ‘replacement’ conspiracy. He was in one with Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters that pushed an implicit great replacement conspiracy theory message. He was in an ad with Republican gubernatorial candidate Karrin Taylor Robson that warned of ‘a border invasion.’ And he was in one with Republican Attorney General candidate Tiffany Shedd who warned of an ‘invasion.’ Lamb was also cast in numerous other Republicans’ nativist attack ads for the 2022 midterms.
Lamb also makes a guest appearance in Rep. Andy Biggs’ (R-AZ) political ‘documentary’ with the white nationalist-inspired title ‘Alien Invasion.’ And he was a featured speaker at a July 2022 midterm Trump rally in Arizona.”