First, Colorado. Then Maine. Now — Pennsylvania?
Using the same argument progressive Democrats are relying on to remove former President Donald Trump from the ballot in at least two states, state Sen. Art Haywood (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) announced Tuesday he’s filing an ethics complaint in the state Senate against his Republican colleague Sen. Doug Mastriano.
Mastriano is an outspoken Trump supporter who has repeatedly claimed the 2020 election was stolen, the results corrupted by widespread fraud.
Calling him an “insurrectionist,” Haywood said there is ample evidence showing Mastriano wanted to overturn the 2020 election that brought President Joe Biden into office. As a result, Haywood says, an investigation by the Senate is warranted. The Senate could vote to expel, censure, or reprimand Mastriano (R-Adams/Franklin) or reject the complaint.
He accused Mastriano, who ran for governor in 2022, of taking part “in a coup attempt to keep Donald J. Trump in office.”
“He used his prominence and reputation in the Senate and his office to conduct a bogus hearing, at which advisors of the then president who were not under oath provided testimony which proved later to be false,” said Haywood. “Further, he introduced a resolution to ‘disapprove and reject’ the certification of Pennsylvania’s election results.”
Holding hearings and introducing resolutions is not a crime. In fact, it’s part of a state legislator’s job. And although he attended the Jan. 6 rally in Washington, D.C., and listened to Trump speak, Mastriano did not go into the Capitol Building and was not charged by federal authorities.
Haywood argues the Senate is free to declare a member an insurrectionist, just as Colorado’s Supreme Court and Maine’s secretary of state have done in Trump’s case. Trump has never been charged with insurrection.
“He was part of a large, angry, armed, violent mob that was assembled at the Capitol for the purpose of overturning the election,” Haywood said Tuesday.
It may not be a coincidence that Haywood said he received information from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) to make his complaint. That’s the same progressive nonprofit organization that brought the case to take Trump off the ballot in Colorado.
Brie Sparkman, policy counsel for CREW, said, “The constitution must be enforced, and accountability must be pursued against those who engaged in an insurrection against it.”
“Sen. Mastriano is an election denier, who despite having taken an oath to defend the United States Constitution, he supported and appears to have taken part in an insurrection against it. His continued service in the Pennsylvania Senate poses an acute and ongoing threat to democratic institutions in the commonwealth and nationwide.
“Sen. Mastriano has expressed no remorse in the actions on that day, even going so far as to continue to uphold the big lie during his unsuccessful run for governor in 2022,” said Sparkman.
Investigating candidates for public office in Pennsylvania over claims the other party believes are false would be unusual, to say the least.
The Senate Republican Caucus said in a statement, “It is unfortunate we are seeing the new year start with political gamesmanship. As outlined in Senate Rules, any ethical complaints are reviewed in a thorough manner.”
Mastriano had called for an audit of the 2020 general election and the 2021 primary election in July 2021, citing a poll that showed 40 percent of Pennsylvania voters believed there were problems. He was later subpoenaed to testify by the Congressional Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack.
Mastriano released this statement: “One would think that the long time Senator for the Fourth District of Pennsylvania would start out the New Year by helping people and improving quality of life in his own district which is suffering from record crime rates and an epidemic drug overdose that is cutting down so many of his constituents in the prime of their lives.
“Sadly, the Senator is focused on a partisan PR stunt. What is truly unethical is a Senator using his bully pulpit to attack the freedom of speech of those he disagrees with. The Senator should tread carefully with this new precedent. Some could construe that his inflammatory anti-law enforcement rhetoric and actions led to the deadly and destructive riots across our commonwealth during the Summer of 2020.
“The Senator further embarrassed himself by justifying his specious ethics complaint with a report from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). CREW is a well-documented far left activist organization founded by a Democrat operative and uses a DNC vendor (Act Blue) to solicit donations from left-wing donors.
“I do not need a lecture on the U.S. Constitution. I volunteered to defend it while serving our nation for over 30 years as an officer in the U.S. Army.
“This stunt will not intimidate or silence me,” he said.
Two Republican strategists said they believe Mastriano does not have much to worry about.
Christopher Nicholas, with Eagle Consulting, said, “Sen. Haywood is bored.”
Charlie Gerow, CEO of Quantum Communications, agreed.
“You’ve got to wonder where Sen. Haywood has been for the last two or three years,” said Gerow. “We’re almost through the Biden presidency, and he’s just waking up to the act he can get some headlines by attacking Doug Mastriano?”