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State Sen. Rogers slammed for Buffalo shooting comments

Arizona State Sen. Wendy Rogers
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File
Arizona State Sen. Wendy Rogers

The Arizona Senate on Monday opened an ethics investigation into a Republican member who tweeted inflammatory comments about last weekend’s racist attack at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket.

However, the Senate rejected a bid by minority Democrats to immediately expel Sen. Wendy Rogers for her tweet implying the federal government was behind the Buffalo shooting that left 10 dead.

GOP Majority Leader Rick Gray said due process considerations require an ethics probe.

Democrats were furious, noting Rogers was censured in March for tweets and statements that embraced white nationalism and called for violence.

Rogers said nothing during discussion but later issued a statement saying her tweet had been “taken completely out of context.” Rogers tweeted “Fed boy summer has started in Buffalo.”

Many in both parties took that tweet to mean that Rogers was blaming the attack on the federal government, especially in light of Rogers’ history of embracing conspiracy theories and posting of racist tropes.

Republican leaders of the Senate tried to get in front of the controversy Monday morning, putting out a statement condemning the violence and “all hate speech that has served as an inspiration for these kinds of heinous crimes.”

Without naming Rogers, the statement said “words have consequences, and while we believe in our first amendment rights of free speech, we denounce any and all extremist rhetoric that has fueled these horrendous acts.”

The hours-long debate in the Senate over what to do about Rogers devolved into a fracas, with Republicans accusing Democrats of trying to make political hay and Democrats accusing GOP members of a pattern of dodging uncomfortable discussions about race relations by shutting down any debate on the issue.