Arizona’s governor hasn’t been ‘indicted’ by the state senate, contrary to viral claim

Sep 25, 2023, 5:03 PM

(Facebook Photo/Arizona State Capitol Building)...

(Facebook Photo/Arizona State Capitol Building)

(Facebook Photo/Arizona State Capitol Building)

Social media users are falsely claiming that Arizona’s governor has been “indicted” by local lawmakers. Here are the facts:

CLAIM: Gov. Katie Hobbs has been indicted on racketeering conspiracy charges by the state senate.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The Republican leadership in Arizona’s state Senate say no such indictment has been issued, and the state legislature isn’t authorized to issue such formal accusations of criminal wrongdoing.

THE FACTS: Social media users are suggesting Arizona lawmakers have brought criminal charges against the state’s sitting governor.

The posts claim — without evidence — that Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs has been indicted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act for a whole host of major felonies.

The federal RICO Act, as it’s commonly referred, has been famously used to prosecute the Mafia and other organized crime syndicates since its passage in 1970.

“BREAKING: Arizona Senate has laid out RICO indictments against Katie Hobbs and others in violation of RICO ACT-13-2301, including bribery, racketeering, money laundering, drug trafficking, human trafficking, aiding and abetting the Sinaloa Cartel, and election fraud,” read many of the posts on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

Many of the posts include a video clip from an Arizona legislative hearing on elections from earlier this year, in which a Scottsdale insurance agent baselessly accused Hobbs of these crimes. A Republican state lawmaker, Rep. Liz Harris, was expelled from the Legislature in a bipartisan vote for organizing the presentation.

The indictment claim was then shared widely on Sunday in a post by Leading Report, a website that has previously shared misinformation around U.S. politics. The post has since been deleted, and spokespersons for the site didn’t respond to messages seeking comment Monday.

But leaders in the Republican-controlled chamber say there’s simply no truth to the notion that the governor faces any charges from lawmakers.

Kim Quintero, a spokesperson for the state Senate GOP, said the Arizona Legislature is not authorized to issue indictments.

“I’m not sure where this bogus information is coming from,” she wrote in an email Monday.

State Sen. Wendy Rogers, a far right Republican and outspoken supporter of former President Donald Trump, also took to X over the weekend to pour cold water on the rumors.

“The following is FAKE NEWS,” she wrote in a message that included the now-deleted post. “The legislature doesn’t issue indictments!”

Indeed, indictments are generally the first significant decision made before a criminal case can head to trial.

They’re handed up by grand juries, not legislative bodies, after prosecutors have presented some of their evidence and witness testimony in a closed door court hearing.

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Arizona’s governor hasn’t been ‘indicted’ by the state senate, contrary to viral claim