Ex-Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers to receive presidential medal

Jan 5, 2023, 9:15 AM | Updated: 11:47 am
Arizona's House Speaker Rusty Bowers returns at the end of a break in a House select committee hear...

Arizona's House Speaker Rusty Bowers returns at the end of a break in a House select committee hearing investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol as it continues to reveal its findings of a year-long investigation, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, June 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

PHOENIX — Former Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers will be given the nation’s second-highest civilian honor, the White House announced on Thursday.

Bowers will receive the Presidential Citizens Medal from Joe Biden for his part in resisting former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The longtime Mesa Republican lawmaker is one of 12 people who will be honored during a White House ceremony Friday.

The Presidential Citizens Medal was established via executive order by Richard Nixon in 1969 to recognize Americans “who have performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens.”

The president has sole discretion to bestow the honor, but it’s not regularly awarded. Barack Obama in 2012 was the last president to issue the medal.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation’s only higher civilian honor.

“I am not often speechless,” Bowers told the Deseret News, the Salt Lake City-based news organization that first reported on Bowers’ award. “It’s an honor, for sure.”

Bowers rejected Trump’s pleas to help him overturn the November 2020 election results. Trump was the first Republican to lose Arizona since 1996.

And then Bowers angered the former president and his backers even more by testifying last year before the U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on Congress.

Bowers testified on June 21 that Trump’s team admitted they did not have evidence of election fraud.

“I do not want to be a winner by cheating,” he said during the hearing. “I will not play with laws I swore allegiance to.”

Bowers ran for a state Senate seat in 2022 but lost in the GOP primary to a Trump-endorsed candidate, David Farnsworth.

Bowers said he had no regrets over standing up to Trump.

“I would do it again in a heartbeat,” he said after losing in the August primary. “I’d do it 50 times in a row.”

In May, Bowers received the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was among the other recipients.

Former Philadelphia election official Al Schmidt, a Republican like Bowers who stood firm against Trump’s pressure, will also get a medal Friday.

Seven members of law enforcement are among those being honored by Biden, including a posthumous award to Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died after the Jan. 6 attack.

Biden is also recognizing Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, and Ruby Freeman and her daughter Shaye Moss, election workers in Fulton County, Georgia, who were subjected to threats and harassment after ensuring votes in the county were properly tabulated.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Ex-Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers to receive presidential medal