Kristine Hansen: Contrast between Bowers and Lee is disappointing

Arizona lawmaker stuck to his oath of office while Utah senator did not.

(Jacquelyn Martin | AP) Rusty Bowers, Arizona state House Speaker, from left, Brad Raffensperger, Georgia Secretary of State, and Gabe Sterling, Georgia Deputy Secretary of State, are sworn in to testify as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol continues to reveal its findings of a year-long investigation, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, June 21, 2022.

I felt admiration and gratitude while listening to the testimony of Rusty Bowers, speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives and, like me, a Latter-day Saint. Testifying before the U.S. House Select Committee regarding January 6, Bowers described how Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman repeatedly pressured him to state that the presidential election results in Arizona were fraudulent.

When Bowers asked them for evidence of voting irregularities, he was told the claim of fraud was more theory than fact. Despite promises, they provided no evidence of fraud. Finding none himself, Bowers refused to cooperate with the scheme to claim Arizona’s election was rigged. (The original results were subsequently upheld in a complete recount costing $6 million.)

Bowers testified that, when Trump and Giuliani also asked Bowers to help appoint new pro-Trump electors from Arizona, he refused because he could not violate his oath to the U.S. Constitution and remain true to his belief in its divine inspiration. He said violating a sacred oath “is foreign to my very being. I will not do it.” Clearly, Bowers is a man of integrity and honor.

I am filled with sorrow and disappointment, however, when I think of another fellow Latter-day Saint, Mike Lee, senator from Utah. Apparently, Lee is willing to dissemble about the role he actually played in helping Trump, Giuliani and Eastman find a plausible way to steal the election. Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s book “Peril” quotes Lee as saying he “was shocked” by Eastman’s plan to delay certifying the election while alternate slates of electors were chosen in some states. Lee claimed to Woodward and Costa that he “had heard nothing about alternative slates of electors.”

However, recently revealed texts from Lee to Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff, show that Lee knew sooner than he let on about Eastman’s scheme to create alternate electors. Far from expressing “shock” in November 2020 at this unconstitutional scheme to have new electors replace duly certified ones from several states, Lee apparently worked overtime in the effort to swing the election to Trump.

“There could be a path” to Trump claiming victory, Lee texted Meadows on Dec. 8, “if a very small handful of states were to have their legislatures appoint alternative slates of delegates.”

Presumably, these alternative delegates would have gone to Washington on January 6 and attempted to have their state’s electoral votes certified for Trump, even though the state’s citizens had voted for Biden.

Lee even texted Meadows that they would “have the Constitution on [their] side” if “the Trump slate of electors” came from a “state legislative determination.” Nothing in the Constitution or in election law allows for alternate electors created by state legislatures. So little time remained for state legislatures to convene and choose a “Trump slate of electors,” as Lee described them, that Lee wanted to allow legislators merely to “sign a statement indicating how they would vote.” In effect, Lee wanted, the legislatures in the swing states, rather than the voters, to determine who the president should be.

The texts show Lee sought a pretext of constitutional authority for Eastman’s cockamamie theory, yet Lee is now telling Utahns he was never involved in the effort to overthrow the election. He says the 14-hour days he spent in December 2020 contacting state legislators were his attempt to “investigate rumors” about alternate slates of electors.

But the texts to Meadows raise questions about that claim. Why does someone “investigating rumors” about an illegal scheme text, “I’m trying to figure out a path that I can persuasively defend” and “We need something from state legislatures to make this legitimate and to have any hope of winning”? Clearly, Lee was seeking a way to declare Trump the winner, despite more than 60 court rulings that there was no evidence of voter fraud.

Like Rusty Bowers, Mike Lee has sworn an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution. Unlike Bowers, whose firmness and rectitude in keeping his oath are unassailable, Lee seems to allow himself a great deal of flexibility in how he interprets and keeps his oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” and “bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”

Is Mike Lee the person you want representing you in the U.S. Senate?

Kristine Hansen

Kristine Hansen, Spring City, is a retired professor of English who taught at Brigham Young University for over 35 years.