Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes distanced himself from robocalls sent out by a Republican attorneys general group he recently led after a state legislator tweeted the source of the calls was “concerning.” The recorded message urged people to attend a rally that turned into a deadly riot at the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.
The Rule of Law Defense Fund, a policy arm of the Republican Attorneys General Association, sent out the calls, which said, “We will march to the Capitol building and call on Congress to stop the steal. We are hoping patriots like you will join us to continue to fight to protect the integrity of our elections.” The message did not otherwise advocate violence or suggest entering the building. Five people died as a result of the incursion.
Reyes is the former chairman of the RLDF, which is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit. He was replaced in November by Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall.
“A.G. Reyes was not involved in organizing the rally in Washington, D.C.,” a statement from the Utah Attorney General’s Office said. “He supports everyone’s rights to peacefully protest and, as stated previously, condemns in the strongest possible terms, all acts of lawlessness and violence at the Capitol Building last week.”
That message was tweeted Sunday by the Utah Attorney General account in response to a call for action made on Twitter by Mike McKell, a recently elected state senator who previously served as a state representative from 2012 to 2020.
“This is concerning and needs to be reviewed further,” McKell tweeted Saturday night, referring to a news article about the RLDF’s involvement in the calls.
The robocalls were first reported by Documented, an organization that describes itself as a watchdog group investigating corporate manipulation.
Alabama A.G. Marshall said in a statement the calls were made without his knowledge or permission.
“I was unaware of unauthorized decisions made by RLDF staff with regard to this week’s rally,” the statement said. “Despite currently transitioning into my role as the newly elected chairman of RLDF, it is unacceptable that I was neither consulted about nor informed of those decisions. I have directed an internal review of this matter.”
Adam Piper, executive director of the Republican Attorneys General Association, released a statement Thursday denying either group’s involvement in the march to the Capitol. It said the groups “had no involvement in the planning, sponsoring, or the organization of yesterday’s rally. No Republican A.G. authorized the staff’s decision to amplify a colleague speaking at the rally.”
However, Documented reported the RLDF was included as a participating organization on a website set up to promote the “March to Save America” rally. The site has since been taken down.
The Democratic Attorneys General Association released a scathing statement Friday condemning the calls and other actions by their Republican counterparts and the RLDF. It was issued by co-chairs Maura Healey, the Massachusetts attorney general, and Aaron Ford, the Nevada attorney general, who had previously sharply criticized Reyes for coming to his state in search of evidence of voter fraud.
“The continued peddling of conspiracy theories and pandering to President Trump’s dangerous lies by the Republican Attorneys General Association, the Rule of Law Defense Fund, and some current and former Republican attorneys general has gone unchecked for too long,” the statement said.
“RAGA, RLDF—and the Republican [attorneys general] who blindly take their support—have no legal or moral ground on which to stand here,” the statement added. “The organization paid for robocalls to recruit attendees, it was listed as a sponsor of the event, its former chair spoke at the rally that incited a mob, and former GOP A.G. Josh Hawley led the effort in Congress to undermine the election.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who led the failed charge to get the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the 2020 presidential election results, spoke at the rally. He later tweeted “these are not Trump supporters” above a message that suggested those involved in the violence at the Capitol were part of the antifa movement.
According to its LinkedIn profile, the “RLDF promotes the rule of law, federalism, and freedom in a civil society. RLDF was created in 2014 to provide a forum for conservative attorneys general and their staff to study, discuss, and engage on important legal policy issues affecting the states.”