Today every Republican finds themselves asking a new question: “If I speak out will the FBI come for me next?” Last week, the LD3 Republican Committee heard a “Resolution to censure the FBI as the Arm of the Leftist Police State in Maricopa County.” The fear in the room was palpable, for nobody knows any longer where the First Amendment ends and “sedition” begins. Yet nonetheless, one brave man, the songwriter Bruce Arlen, stood up and began to read.
He read a damning condemnation of the weaponization of the DOJ and the perversion of the law. And he read a clear and resounding call for the Legislature and Governor of Arizona, through both words and actions, to provide the citizens of our state with the “double security” against invasion of their liberties for which the federal system was designed. His courage inspired others. The motion carried. Bravery is contagious.
I am also afraid. I have seen the mechanizations of the DOJ and J6 Committee up close and know that this is no idle political witch-hunt but a coordinated and deadly serious effort to decapitate the Republican Party’s leadership and cow ordinary Republicans into silence and inaction. To be sure, some of the rioters on January 6th appear to have broken the law. But most of the “crimes” that Washington’s tyrants are now investigating amount to no more than allegations that political opponents said things that they do not like. The others are mere pretexts to prosecute people for the same reason.
Over the past few months, I have fielded too many questions from the Republican grassroots about whether they can still communicate with party leadership safe from the prying eyes of the FBI. And, as a lawyer, I have had too many citizens come to me to ask “can I say this?” One is too many.
So let me be clear: President Trump has a constitutional and God-given right to say that the 2020 election was stolen. So do you. And President Trump, like all Americans, has a constitutional and God-given right to petition Congress to take action on the basis of that belief or any other. Had Congress acted, those acts would, perhaps, have been proper subjects of judicial review. The rights to expression and petition are not. They are absolute.
Unfortunately, citizens increasingly aware that, if they are unlawfully targeted for their speech, they can no longer rely on the procedural protections of the American justice system as they once might have. The left has long intimidated and harassed attorneys willing to represent conservatives through the traditional Soviet tactics of the midnight phone call and anonymous threat. With the 65 Project, the left has institutionalized this harassment through a coordinated and well-funded effort to “shame” such attorneys, “make them toxic in their communities,” and curtail their ability to practice law by filing bar complaints against them. Attorneys willing to defend conservatives, never many in number, are becoming a rapidly dying breed.
In a few months, I will place my hand on the Bible and swear to defend the constitutions of the United States and the State of Arizona against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Then, despite my fear, duty will no longer permit me the luxury of inaction. I have heard the cries of the people of my district and will make every effort to fulfill my sacred obligation to defend the liberties of the citizens of Arizona.
It is a fact unknown to most that the federal and state criminal codes are so lengthy and complex that almost everyone is a criminal. It is, for example, a federal offense to slice canned peaches incorrectly. When everyone is a felon, prosecutors have unfettered discretion to prosecute their political opponents for perfectly “real” crimes. To protect our rights to freedom of speech and association, I will work to reform the law to ensure that only things that you and I would perceive as morally wrong can be prosecuted.
Ten years ago, Congress caught the FBI teaching agents that they could “bend or suspend the law.” Its academy is notorious for teaching trainees that suspects have “forfeited their right to the truth.” Thus, should the FBI continue down its dark path, I will go further and heed the calls of my PCs to introduce legislation prohibiting the State of Arizona from sharing information with the FBI that might help facilitate their reckless political prosecutions.
I call on liberals of good faith to join in these efforts. The FBI began its metamorphosis under Hoover. I am not blind to the fact that it was one of my favorite Republican presidents, Calvin Coolidge who appointed him. The erosion of our constitutional liberties was furthered by Dick Cheney’s push to expand the power of the secret FISA courts to spy on American citizens. His daughter Liz Cheney now continues his dastardly work by serving on the J6 committee. Today they are coming for Trump and the GOP leadership. But tomorrow the midnight knock could be at the door of my home. Or yours.
Do not let yourself become used to these escalations. Do not let your anger diminish with each new outrageous assault on your rights. Do not allow your liberty to be slowly boiled away like the life of a frog in a pot. The time to stand is while the noose sits but lightly about the neck. The time to fight is now.
Alexander Kolodin is a constitutional attorney and a Representative-Elect to the Arizona House.