Top Maricopa County GOP Official Said She’d ‘Lynch’ Election Official


Maricopa County recorder Stephen Richer speaks to reporters during a press conference at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center on November 10, 2022, in Phoenix, Arizona.

Maricopa County recorder Stephen Richer speaks to reporters during a press conference at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center on November 10, 2022, in Phoenix, Arizona. Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

A high-ranking Republican in Maricopa County, Arizona, said earlier this year that she would “lynch” one of the county’s top election officials if he walked into the room.

At an event in March for a GOP congressional candidate, Shelby Busch, the first vice chair of the Maricopa County Republican Committee, spoke about the importance of finding “unity” with “good, Christian” people before mentioning county recorder Stephen Richer.

Richer is the elected official in charge of overseeing elections in the county, along with the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. He has become a target for Arizona Republicans because, despite being a Republican himself, he has stood up for the integrity of elections and shot down baseless conspiracy theories about widespread fraud. (He’s also up for reelection this year.)

“Let’s pretend that this gentleman over here was running for county recorder, and he’s a good, Christian man that believes what we believe. We can work with that, right? That’s unity,” Busch said, pointing to someone in the crowd. “That’s saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to shake hands and we’re going to agree that we’re going to run a good, Christian foundation campaign, and we’re going to treat each other well, and we’re going to get through this together, right?’ That’s unity.” 

She continued, “But if Stephen Richer walked in this room, I would lynch him. I don’t unify with people who don’t believe in the principles we believe in and the American cause that founded this country. And so I want to make that clear when we talk about what it means to unify.” 

Richer posted a clip of Busch’s comments from March 20 on X (formerly Twitter) Monday, saying in another post that the clip was “just shared with me this weekend.”

Busch denied that her comments about religion were related to Richer’s Jewish faith and said her remark about lynching was done “in jest.”

“Everyone knows I don’t like richer,” Busch wrote in an email to HuffPost on Tuesday. “The statement was a joke and was said in jest. I do not condone and would never condone violence against anyone. This was a small event from several months ago. These comments had nothing to do with his Jewish faith. I did not even know he was Jewish.”

In a longer video from that same campaign event, Busch tells the crowd, “The word ‘unity’ makes my skin crawl” because “there is a lot of earthly, fake and vile ‘unity’ talk going around in our state.”

She added, “So what does unity mean to me? It means unifying with those that share the core, Biblical, Christian-Judeo principles that we share. I think it was Paul that told us that we are not to unify with the swindlers, and the adulterers, and the filth, and bring it into our world, and so we have to be careful when we talk about unity, and make sure we really understand what that means.”

At that point, Busch praised Don Hiatt, a Republican running against Richer for the party’s county recorder nomination, who was in the room. She said he was “a good, Christian man, and he believes in what we believe in” before proceeding with the attack against Richer.

Neither the Maricopa County Republican Committee nor the Arizona Republican Party immediately responded to HuffPost’s requests for comment.

Busch is also chair of We The People AZ Alliance, a right-wing election conspiracy theory group that has receivedfunding from ex-Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne’s group, The America Project, as Issue One and AZ Mirror have reported.

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