PHOENIX — The Arizona GOP Executive Committee formally censured Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers Tuesday night, saying "he is no longer a Republican in good standing."
The censure resolution, approved by the party’s executive committee, “encourages Republicans to expel him from office” in the Aug. 2 primary election.
Less severe than expulsion, censure does not remove a senator from office. It is a formal statement of disapproval, according to the U.S. Senate.
In a tweet Tuesday night, Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward cited numerous reasons for the censure, including:
- Bowers' support of a bill giving tax-payer-funded in-state tuition to migrants at state universities
- His support of a billion-dollar education spending bill
- His opposition to a bill stating only two genders should be named on government documents
- His sponsoring of a bill that makes sexual orientation and gender identity a protected class
Ward went on to say that Bowers has not been forthright in his interactions with others in legislative leadership and, in doing so, has lost the confidence of the majority of the Republican Party of Arizona.
The censure comes three days before former President Donald Trump is scheduled to hold a rally in Prescott Valley for Republican primary candidates he’s endorsed.
Bowers angered Trump and Ward with his testimony last month to the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
Bowers described how he rebuffed Trump’s pressure campaign to overturn the 2020 election results in Arizona. Democrat Joe Biden narrowly won the state.
"It is a tenet of my faith that the Constitution is divinely inspired, that this is my most basic foundational belief," Bowers, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, told the committee.
"So for me to do that because somebody just asked me to, is foreign to my very being. I will not do it."
Trump, Ward Endorse Opponent
A week after Bowers’ testimony, Trump endorsed former state Sen. David Farnsworth, Bowers’ opponent in a Senate primary in the East Valley.
“Bowers must be defeated, and highly respected David Farnsworth is the man to do it,” Trump said in his endorsement.
Farnsworth said in a recent debate with Bowers that “the devil himself” led a conspiracy to steal the 2020 election from Trump.
Ward also endorsed Farnsworth - a rarity for a party chairman in a contested primary - and tagged Bowers with the demeaning nickname “Rusty Bowels.”
'Take a Miracle to Win'
Bowers told an NBC reporter that it would “take a miracle” for him to win the August primary.
Bowers was honored last April with the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for his efforts to protect the election, amid great personal and professional stress.
He has served two stints in the state Legislature covering 16 years. Bowers seeking a return to the state Senate in the new 10th Legislative District, after four years as House speaker.
Punishments for Crossing Trump
Under Ward’s chairmanship, the state party has censured Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey; Cindy McCain, the widow of Sen. John McCain; and former U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake.
Like Bowers, all three had crossed Trump.
Ward Under Investigation?
Ward has come under scrutiny as Trump's most aggressive Arizona ally in seeking to overturn the 2020 election results.
Ward and her husband have been served with grand jury subpoenas in the U.S. Department of Justice’s investigation of a “fake elector” scheme in Arizona and other states.
Ward and her husband are fighting a subpoena for their cell phone records by the January 6th committee.
>> Download the 12 News app for the latest local breaking news straight to your phone.
Sunday Square Off
Watch previous interviews and segments of Sunday Square Off on our 12News YouTube channel. Be sure to subscribe to receive updates on new uploads!