In the fall, Nick Jongebloed, a wellness coach in Lewisville, North Carolina, began to pay attention to a particular lawmaker in Arizona – Wendy Rogers.
He had no affiliation with the state. But he was captivated of her social media crusade about voter fraud and believed in Rogers when she said she was fighting for a “movement” beyond just Arizona. He became a $ 15-a-month contributor to her campaign.
While Arizona’s high-profile, right-wing extremist state legislature begins its campaign for re-election, Rogers has plenty of money in his political coffin.
Much of it comes from people like Jongebloed: small donors with little connection to Arizona but devoted to Rogers’ platform. ONE Phoenix New Times Analyzes showed that donations came from all states in the country, which increased when Rogers appeared in right-wing podcasts or collected support.
This consequence has provided Rogers with considerable resources, despite the fact that she has been reprimanded and censored by her colleagues in the Senate in recent weeks. This despite the fact that she refused to apologize for increasingly inappropriate comments, which critics say often tacitly support white nationalism and racist conspiracies.
Rogers is a 67-year-old Air Force veteran and business owner. She often continues with her age and military service, sometimes calling herself a “sweet grandmother” and other times a “hardcore fighter patriot.”
Over the past decade, she has lined up six times. Rogers did not win one until 2020, when she secured her seat in the Arizona Senate.
She has used her new national profile and her money to push a stream of radical legislation, including a “Donald Trump Day” state holiday, a ban on voting machines at elections and redirect $ 700 million for the construction of border walls at the Arizona-Mexico border .
While some of her bills have stalled, including one to fund the border wall, others have gained momentum in the state capital, which has alerted critics.
Last week Washington Post wrote a feature on the national influence Rogers has cultivated from Arizona, framing Rogers as an example of a new brand in far-right politics. As Post say so, for some, Rogers’ success has become a symbol of “the political and economic incentives of going to extremes.”
And donations have continued to flow in.
Senate members – even prominent ones – hardly come close to the numbers Rogers has released. Republican Senate Majority Leader Sonny Borrelli, who represents a district along the California border that includes Lake Havasu City, raised about $ 13,000 in 2021, the same period that Rogers raised her $ 2.5 million. Democratic minority whip Martin Quezada, meanwhile, raised just under $ 80,000 during that time.
Put another way, Rogers raised more than nine times as much in a year out of cycle as the two most powerful state legislators combined during an election. House Speaker Russell “Rusty” Bowers and Senate President Karen Fann received $ 270,000 in new contributions in their 2020 bid for the office.
A closer look at the nearly $ 2.5 million she raised, mostly from individual donations like Jongebloeds, shows how dedicated a following she has built across the country.
Of the tens of thousands of donations that Rogers received, the vast majority were – about 85 percent of the total number of individual donations according to Phoenix New Times’ analysis of the data – came from abroad.
And they came from all the states of the United States
Arizona topped the donations with 8,389, closely followed by California with nearly 7,000. But Rogers collected at least a hundred donations from every other state except North Dakota, which numbered only 97. Thousands came from Texas, Florida and Colorado. Donations even came from Puerto Rico and Guam.
Back in North Carolina, Jongebloed said Rogers’ platform was “bigger than just her community.” He was particularly preoccupied with her claims that she was trying to expose widespread (and disproved) election fraud across the country.
“What she’s fighting for, for her constituents, are the same things I wish I had representatives who fought for here in my state,” Jongebloed said. “Their discoveries [in Arizona] will in turn affect other areas of the country. “
Jongebloed is deeply convinced that the electoral system has been manipulated, he said. He wanted his representatives, he said, “to give me confidence that my choice is legitimate and that my vote counts.” Rogers worked for this, he said.
Rogers is currently preparing for what could be a bitter race to retain his Senate seat. After redistribution in the fall, both she and like-minded conservative Republican Senator Kelly Townsend was in the same district.
Currently, Rogers represents a vast rural area that includes her home in Flagstaff, but also parts of Gila, Yavapai and Navajo counties. Townsend currently represents District 16, which includes much of Mesa and Apache Junction.
The two will compete in the newly drawn Seventh District, which stretches from Flagstaff to the Globe.
Despite her popularity right in Arizona, Townsend has traveled a small fraction of Rogers’ moves. Townsend’s cumulative annual report for 2021 showed only $ 9,300 in total income, of which $ 6,756 was from individual contributions.
During their time in the Arizona Senate, Townsend and Rogers have proven to be political allies. Rogers supported her senatorial colleague in her short-lived candidacy for the U.S. Congress this year.
But Townsend has recently reprimanded Rogers for some of her more extreme comments, writing on Twitter that Rogers ‘supported’ white supremacy. “Good and decent people can also freely find it repulsive and un-American,” Townsend wrote.
Rhetorically, Rogers has shown some reluctance to go to extremes. Last month, her appearance at the America First Political Action Conference, as well as tirades on social media that aired anti-Semitic tropes and slander against transgender people, received a reprimand from colleagues in the Senate.
AFPAC is a conference hosted by political expert and right-wing personality Nick Fuentes, who has a long history of advocating white nationalism. Rogers gave a pre-recorded speech with US Representative Paul Gosar, calling for her political enemies and “criminals” to be hanged.
But this was hardly an anomaly. During his long tenure as state senator, Rogers has laid eggs on Fuentes’ extremist supporters, developed racist conspiracy theories, and become an electoral fraud evangelist who has pressured other states to “revision” their election.
But her reach appeared to be growing in early August, according to a review of her campaign finances. That month, the average number of individual donations was nine times higher than the previous month.
As it happened, on August 4, Wendy Rogers showed up The Stew Peters Show, in which she thanked him for “being brave enough to get this truth out” when he erroneously claimed that there was no evidence for the existence of the COVID-19 virus. A podcaster, Peters has been fired from various mainstream platforms, including Spotify, for spreading misinformation.
A former bounty hunter, Peters rose to prominence in right-wing media last year, gathering a large following on the far right. In one profile, the Daily Beast called Peters a “kind of slightly less independent version of Alex Jones,” the conspiracy theorist. Peters’ show has become a new “hub for conspiracy theories.”
In just three days after her appearance on Peters shows, Rogers had an influx of more than 3,000 donations – more than she had previously received in a single month. In those three days, she raised $ 110,834. That was more money than the $ 98,943 she had raised throughout the month of July.
Progress continued. Her membership on the messaging app Telegram has grown to nearly 150,000 people.
A support from former President Donald Trump, who arrived in late November, also brought in more money for Rogers’ campaign. The next day, November 30, she received nearly 1,000 donations, totaling $ 42,389.
Rogers’ supporters reported on a wide range of occupations. Jongebloed is a business owner and wellness coach. Many said they were retired. Others were doctors, insurance agents and teachers.
Three self-reported detectives at the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office gave money to Rogers, as did a Phoenix police lieutenant and four other Phoenix police and firefighters.
Eleven donors said they were customs and border protection officers or border patrol agents, based in states including Arizona, California, Texas and Alaska.
A donor, a financial advisor in Missouri, responded New Times’ questions about her support for Rogers by sending a single John F. Kennedy quote: “Let every nation know whether it wants us good or evil that we should pay any price, bear any burden … to ensure the freedom of survival and success. “
In another email Phoenix New TimesEric Hananoki, an investigative reporter for the watchdog group Media Matters, who has been following Rogers ‘progress, stressed the dangers of Rogers’ national profile.
“She is trying to use her platforms and status as an elected official to bring legitimacy to the white nationalist movement,” he said.
Vincent James Foxx, like Fuentes, has a long history of dealing with hate groups, including the group responsible for beatings during the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. Rogers is a big fan: “Vincent James runs for office , ”She wrote on her telegram.
Rogers, who generally refuses to speak to local media, did not respond New Times’ interview requests for this article, and did not respond to a detailed list of questions asked to her office. But she has embraced the attention, for better or worse, she has reaped during her tenure.
On Wednesday, she posted a picture of one recently Arizona Republic profile of her on Telegram. The headline read: “Rogers’ Hard-Right World.”
“I love you ALL,” she wrote.
And they love her. How much it will show next month when she reports her contributions from the first quarter of this election year.