Nine other senators have signed on Sen. Bell’s censure bill as a patron.
RICHMOND- Virginia State Sen. Amanda Chase doesn’t think she did anything wrong. That was her argument Thursday, as she faced possible censure in the Virginia Senate. Nine of her colleagues signed on as patrons for Sen. John Bell’s resolution, which was filed Wednesday and sent to the Committee on Privileges and Elections. The retired U.S. Air Force officer said he felt he had to file now.
“After what happened last week in Washington D.C., I knew something had to be done,” Bell said. “We, not only as the Democratic Caucus but as the Senate as a whole, need to tell Sen. Chase that her actions are not only unbecoming of an elected official, but are dangerous and seditious. I hope my colleagues in the Senate have the courage to do what is right and will join me in supporting her censure when the time comes.”
Bell was referring to Chase’s involvement in the Jan. 6 ‘Stop the Steal’ rally. In social media videos and again on the Senate floor Thursday, Chase called those who attended “patriots” who hoped to witness history.
“The people I met were patriots and drove from as far away as California to witness history, which they hoped would be the overturning of the election results,” Chase said of those who attended the rally.
What is Chase Accused Of?
The senator spoke to the crowd before the Jan. 6 rally got started, demanding what she called “fair, transparent elections.” Once the rally got started, Trump took the stage, again claiming Democrats stole the election. There hasn’t been any evidence supporting this claim. In fact, Trump and his legal team have lost more than 59 lawsuits to that effect. Despite that, he told his supporters gathered on Jan. 6 they should march to the Capitol. They did exactly that.
The group stormed the US Capitol, injuring several police officers, killing one and temporarily taking control of parts of the Capitol building. The attack came as Congress was voting to certify the electoral college count from the 2020 presidential election.
“The morning of Wednesday, January 6, 2021, Senator Amanda F. Chase addressed a crowd gathered in Washington, D.C., to urge that action be taken to overturn the lawfully conducted 2020 presidential election,” the censure resolution reads. “The morning’s events were a catalyst to the deadly insurrection that followed.”
The resolution points out, as we reported previously, that in the hours after the event, Chase continued to support the attackers. She even included herself in that group. In one of several videos posted to her campaign Facebook page Jan. 6, Chase claimed the group was justified in their actions.
“Whenever a government comes after your constitutional rights, we have every right and reason to resist,” Chase said. “When you back good people, law-abiding citizens into a corner, they will push back when you give them no other options. When you cheat them of their elections, when you take away their constitutional rights and freedoms, you’re backing patriots like myself into a corner.”
What Rights is Chase Talking About?
Now the argument in support of the terrorists appears to shift at times. In this video, Chase claimed the attack happened in part because of the government’s passage of gun control legislation last year. On other days, she links it to general election fraud or specifically, the election changes approved by the Virginia General Assembly in 2020. And there are other times when she changes her mind, claiming Antifa was behind the Jan. 6 attack.
There’s a lot to unpack here, so we’ll go one at a time. First, you still have to verify your ID to cast a ballot in Virginia. This claim keeps getting brought up. And just as quickly, it keeps getting debunked.
Virginians are no longer required to use photo ID at the polls. That part is true. Gov. Ralph Northam signed the bill into law this past February. But again, that doesn’t mean you can just walk in.
If you don’t have a driver’s license or voter ID card, then you have to show one of a limited number of other options. That includes a utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or a signed ID confirmation statement.
Then there’s the claims about “unsecured” drop-off sites. Chase and other General Assembly Republicans repeatedly made this claim during the special session. The new law says each local registrar had to establish a drop-off location at their office. Literally, most set them up right outside the door. Registrars also put a drop-off box at each polling place on Election Day. If the registrar felt their area needed more drop-off sites, they could set up as many as necessary. Surveillance systems monitored the sites, so no one could break in. Every day, a member of the registrar’s office came out and collected the ballots.
‘Never Called For Violence’
Reading a speech Thursday on the Senate floor, Chase reversed course, saying what happened Jan. 6 was wrong.
“I have never once called for violence,” Chase said. “I have never participated in violence and I don’t call for it in any way. What happened at the Capitol, I think it’s wrong what happened, and I stand against the violence.”
But immediately before saying that, she made claims against Dominion Voting Systems and started spreading other conspiracy theories. Then there was this statement on the Senate floor Thursday.
“We in this body need to take a look at the actions, what is being called an insurrection now, and decide what we as Virginia legislators are going to do,” Chase said.
When you put it all together, Bell said, it shows Chase violated her oath as a Virginia state senator. That’s why he filed the censure. A censure is basically a formal statement of disapproval. There are no penalties, no one is removed from office. It’s just a document saying at least a majority of the group disagree with your actions.
The alternative is what’s called expelling. In order to make that happen, however, you need a two-thirds majority of both the House and Senate. Unsure if enough lawmakers would support that option, Bell went with the censure. There is currently no set date for the Senate committee to take up the proposal.
Brian Carlton is Dogwood’s managing editor. You can reach him at [email protected].