Reps. Gosar, Biggs Join Lawsuit Against Biden’s Airplane Mask Mandate

Reps. Gosar, Biggs Join Lawsuit Against Biden’s Airplane Mask Mandate

By Corinne Murdock |

Republican Reps. Paul Gosar (AZ-04) and Andy Biggs (AZ-05) joined an amicus brief with 15 other lawmakers to prevent future airplane mask mandates. 

Specifically, the lawmakers challenged the CDC’s legal authority to issue a mask mandate for airplane travel in Health Freedom Defense Fund v. Biden. They contested that Congress hadn’t and couldn’t grant the CDC the authority for such a mandate.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY-04) led the amicus brief, joined by Biggs and Republican Reps. Barry Moore (AL-02), Lauren Boebert (CO-03), Bill Posey (FL-08), Brian Mast (FL-18), Andrew Clyde (GA-09), Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA-14), Matt Rosendale (MT), Dan Bishop (NC-09), Warren Davidson (OH-08), Ralph Norman (SC-05), Chip Roy (TX-21), Bob Good (VA-05), and Alex Mooney (WV-02).

Sen. Rand Paul (KY) also joined the amicus brief. These Congress members represent 13 different states.

READ THE AMICUS BRIEF HERE

The case is before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals currently. 

The Florida Middle District Court ruled against the Biden administration in April, finding that the CDC exceeded its statutory authority and failed to follow notice and comment rulemaking. Following the loss, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a joint statement with the CDC pledging an appeal of the ruling.

“The Department continues to believe that the order requiring masking in the transportation corridor is a valid exercise of the authority Congress has given CDC to protect the public health,” stated the DOJ. 

CASE DOCUMENTS: HEALTH FREEDOM DEFENSE FUND V. BIDEN

The lawsuit follows legislative attempts to end the mandate and prevent future ones, and years of aggressive crackdowns on resistance to mask-wearing on flights. 

Last July, Biggs and Paul introduced legislation to prohibit mask mandates for public transportation. Neither version of the legislation made it to a committee in the Democratic-controlled Congress. 

For two years, airlines put passengers who refused to mask up on their “no-fly list.” In February, Delta Airlines asked other airlines to share their no-fly lists to expand its own. 

Negative public response to the move caused the company to backtrack. By April, Delta began removing people who refused to adhere to masking requirements from its no-fly list.

Last December, the CEO of Southwest Airlines testified to the Senate his doubts about masks’ ability to prevent COVID-19 transmission in airplanes. The fully vaccinated, double-boosted CEO caught COVID-19 a day after that testimony. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Arizona Congressmen Asks For Investigation Into Foreign Ownership of U.S. Farmland

Arizona Congressmen Asks For Investigation Into Foreign Ownership of U.S. Farmland

By Corinne Murdock |

Congressmen Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ-04) joined 128 congressmen in a petition asking the federal government to investigate foreign investment in U.S. farmland.

The request letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) named Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, China, and Saudi Arabia as top foreign investors of interest. Most notably, the letter cited China’s purchase of farmland just 20 minutes from the Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota, where the military hosts critical drone technology. Approximately three hours west of that base is Minot Air Force Base, one of the nation’s three intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) defense sites. 

As of 2020, foreign owners and investors accounted for 37.6 million acres — nearly 3 percent of farmland. Since 2015, foreign ownership has increased by about 2.2 million acres annually. When the federal government began tracking foreign ownership of farmland in 1979, foreigners owned 5.6 million acres of farmland of the 1.4 billion acres of privately held farmland.

The congressmen asked the GAO to evaluate the trends and details of foreign ownership, provide data collection methods on foreign ownership, disclose procedures ensuring proper disclosures of foreign acquisitions and sales of farmland, evaluate whether foreign ownership filtered through a U.S. charter company or corporation is accurately labeled as foreign ownership, disclose review methods ensuring foreign-owned land doesn’t pose a national security threat, suggest improvements to strengthen reporting of foreign ownership, and disclose interagency and nongovernmental partnerships that ensure accurate disclosures of foreign ownership. 

Each year, the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) issues a data report on foreign-owned farmland. The 2021 FSA report hasn’t been published yet. 

READ THE 2020 FSA REPORT 

Congressmen David Schweikert (R-AZ-06), Debbie Lesko (R-AZ-08), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ-03), Greg Stanton (D-AZ-09), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ-07), Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-02), and Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ-01) didn’t sign onto the letter.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Congressman Gosar Investigating Arizona Man Accused of Being January 6 Federal Informant

Congressman Gosar Investigating Arizona Man Accused of Being January 6 Federal Informant

By Corinne Murdock |

On Friday, Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ-04) requested that the Department of Justice (DOJ) turn over all records concerning an Arizona man accused of working as a federal informant: Ray Epps.

In a press release, Gosar said it was suspicious that Epps was never arrested or charged with a crime despite inciting illegal activity. Last January 5 and 6, Epps encouraged and directed protestors to breach the Capitol building.

“If the Department of Justice has nothing to hide and is genuinely interested in what happened on January 6, they should release every piece of information relating to Ray Epps’ involvement on that day,” stated Gosar. “Then and only then will the American people know what really happened.”

The first to question Epps’ January 6 involvement was Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY-04) last October. Massie asked Attorney General Merrick Garland whether federal agents were present and encouraged protestors to go into the U.S. Capitol on January 6. 

Further details about Epps’ January 6 involvement were uncovered through investigative reporting by Darren Beattie, Revolver News founder and former White House speechwriter.

Epps appeared on the FBI Capitol Violence Most Wanted List within several days of the January 6 riot. The public and mainstream media identified him quickly. However, the FBI didn’t arrest or charge Epps. Last July, they removed Epps from their list. 

A year later, this July, The New York Times featured Epps in an article discussing how accusations of federal informacy ruined his life. Epps said that he and his wife plan to file a defamation lawsuit against those levying accusations of government collusion. Elsewhere, he cited Revolver News and Fox News’ Tucker Carlson as the main sources of many of his problems. 

Epps also claimed to the outlet that he avoided arrest because he reached out to the FBI on January 8, the day that the agency included his picture on their Most Wanted list. After less than an hour on the phone, and a March 2021 in-person interview with federal agents, the FBI reportedly cleared Epps of wrongdoing. 

In January, the House’s January 6 Committee revealed that they spoke with Epps. According to their account of the private interview, the committee said that Epps denied any involvement as a law enforcement informant or employee.

Epps was the former president of the Oath Keepers Arizona chapter. The Oath Keepers are a militia organization that believes the federal government is controlled by figures attempting to take away American rights. According to archives of the chapter website, Epps served as president from 2011 until at least 2014. Another individual, Gerald Rhoades, served as the chapter’s vice president.

Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was arrested for his role in the January 6 Capitol riot. Although 10 other Oath Keepers faced charges as well, Epps didn’t.

AZ Free News reached out to Epps for comment, and to ask him about his thoughts on the trials against January 6 participants. He didn’t respond by press time.

Extended Notes on the Timeline:

  • January 5-6, 2021: In one video, Epps advanced along the path where his group of fellow protestors pushed back the barricade around the Capitol. In another video, Epps declared that he and other protestors were “holding ground” while inside restricted Capitol grounds.
  • January 8, 2021: The FBI includes Epps in their Capitol Violence Most Wanted list, identified as the now-deleted Photograph #16. Epps claimed in a later interview with New York Times that “a family member” notified him that same day that “the FBI issued a be-on-the-lookout alert in his name.” The FBI never identified Epps by name. Epps told the outlet that he called the FBI tip line to turn himself in, and spoke with agents for less than an hour. Epps wasn’t arrested.
  • January 11, 2021: The Arizona Republic interviews Epps. At the time, Epps refused to comment on whether he knew he was on the FBI’s list. Epps denied that he wanted people to go “into the Capitol,” as he said in video evidence, but rather “go in the doors like everyone else. It was totally, totally wrong the way they [the protestors] went in.”
  • March 2021: Epps reportedly spoke again with federal agents, this time in person. He told them that he tried to calm down protestors, not incite them, as confirmed by a New York Times review of interview transcripts, which weren’t shared.
  • January 11, 2022: The House’s January 6 Committee discloses that they spoke with Epps, though they don’t publicize the interview. FBI official Jill Sanborn refuses to give details about Epps to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  • March 29, 2022: The DOJ promises to provide a “disclosure” about Epps to several individuals facing charges related to the January 6 riot. An attorney for Epps, John Blischak, told Politico that Epps provided “a full disclosure” to the House January 6 Committee.
  • July 13, 2022New York Times features Epps in “A Trump Backer’s Downfall as the Target of a Jan. 6 Conspiracy Theory,” discussing how allegations of federal conspiracy ruined his life. 
  • August 30, 2022: Shortly after the Mar-a-Lago raid, former President Donald Trump posted a debunked claim about Epps’ wife previously working for Dominion Voting Machines on his Truth Social account. Epps’ wife worked for an unaffiliated company, Dominion Enterprises.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Congressman Gosar Investigating Arizona Man Accused of Being January 6 Federal Informant

Capitol Police Quiet On 2020 Death Threat Against Congressman Gosar

By Corinne Murdock |

It’s been almost two years, and there’s been no follow-up on the death threat against Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ-04). Though the threat made national headlines, it appears that nothing ever came of it. Our reporters attempted to contact Capitol Police, but they didn’t issue any responses by press time.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) issued no updates on the death threat, though they’ve made other arrests for similar death threats since then. Gosar confirmed to AZ Free News that he wasn’t aware if the Capitol Police followed through with their investigation of the death threat against him.

“I am not aware of any action being taken on that death threat. I am not privy to the internal decision making of the Capitol Police or the reasons some threats are investigated and not charged and some are not investigated at all,” said Gosar.

The threat against Gosar was one of the more well-known of 8,600 threats against Congress reported to Capitol Police in 2020 — an uptick from the 6,900 in 2019 but less than the 9,600 from last year. 

In January, Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger informed the House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee that they haven’t been able to keep up with threats against Congress since the January 6 invasion of the Capitol. 

It’s a felony to threaten a congressman, one that carries up to a 5 to 10 year prison sentence. Comparatively, Gosar has faced repercussions these past two years for behaviors perceived to communicate violence.

Last November, the House censured and removed Gosar from his committees for publicizing an anime meme in which Republican representatives’ likenesses were superimposed on anime heroes who battled and slayed anime villains bearing Democratic leaders’ likenesses. Gosar was the House’s first censure in over a decade, prompting a 4-hour debate.

The meme video was a parody of the popular anime show, “Attack on Titan.”

Since the January 6 invasion of the Capitol, Gosar has faced consistent attacks for promoting and participating in the preceding rally. Gosar has been the focus of the Democrats’ Senate select committee investigating January 6.

Earlier this year, a Democrat-backed, progressive nonprofit, Free Speech For People, unsuccessfully challenged the legitimacy of Gosar’s re-election campaign, as well as the campaigns of Congressman Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05) and State Representative Mark Finchem (R-Oro Valley) for organizing the January 6 protest. 

The death threat reportedly came from activist and retired elementary school teacher, Margaret (Mary) Kathleen Spangenberg. The former educator reportedly issued her threat on a voicemail left with Gosar’s congressional office. 

“I think it’s totally OK for me to come with my gun and shoot you in the head,” said the woman. “That’s what we think of you, Mr. Gosar. You’re a murderer supporter and you are just going down. Murderer, murderer, murderer supporter, you are going down. And we’ll make sure we’ll send lots of protesters your way too. You’re a real big f*****g piece of s**t.”

Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ), who Spangenberg supported, condemned the threat against Gosar’s life. Kelly’s wife, Gabrielle Giffords, is the survivor of an assassination attempt. 

“I strongly condemn this threat against Rep. Gosar,” wrote Kelly. “Threats of violence like this are wrong. I’m glad Capitol Police is investigating.”

Spangenberg also supported Julie Gunnigle’s previous run for Maricopa County Attorney. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Congressman Gosar Backed Bill For Illegal Immigrant Victims to Sue Sanctuary Cities

Congressman Gosar Backed Bill For Illegal Immigrant Victims to Sue Sanctuary Cities

By Corinne Murdock |

Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ-04) signed onto a bill allowing victims of illegal immigrant criminals to sue the relevant state or local jurisdictions that adopted “sanctuary” practices. At the time of this report, Gosar was the only one of Arizona’s congressmen to cosponsor the bill. A total of 26 representatives nationwide have cosponsored the legislation. 

According to data from the Center for Immigration Studies, Arizona doesn’t have any counties or cities with sanctuary practices: those policies, laws, ordinances, regulations, or resolutions preventing enforcement of federal immigration law by refusing cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). 

Phoenix almost became a sanctuary city in 2017, but their city council voted against it. Then in 2019, Tucson voters rejected a sanctuary city proposal outlined in Proposition 205. Months before the COVID-19 outbreak, Governor Doug Ducey requested the legislature introduce a constitutional amendment to outlaw sanctuary practices statewide. That legislation never came to fruition. 

The bill in question — HR515, the “Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act of 2021” — was introduced by Congressman Ted Budd (R-NC-13) in early January of last year. The bill was referred to the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship last March. Since then, it hasn’t moved. 

Gosar urged fellow Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (R-AZ-08) to cosponsor the bill as well. He retweeted a post urging Lesko to take action.

Certain state level efforts to mitigate crimes committed by illegal immigrants haven’t moved either. State Representative John Kavanagh’s bill to require the publication of illegal immigrant mugshots and information, HB2326, hasn’t advanced the Senate since it was passed in the House in February.

Over 100 cities and counties qualify as sanctuary areas. 11 states adopted sanctuary practices: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.