Gosar dismisses failed censure attempt over State of the Union tweets

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Prescott, is escorted through Statuary Hall after the State of the Union address last week, when he said before the speech that police should arrest immigrants in attendance with falsified documents. A move by House Democrats this week to censure him over those remarks fizzled. (Photo by Kyley Schultz/Cronkite News)

WASHINGTON – Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Prescott, rebuffed House Democrats’ failed attempt to censure him for tweets about undocumented immigrants at the State of the Union, calling the censure move “left-wing non-sense to silence my speech.”

The resolution to formally censure Gosar stemmed from his series of tweets on the day of the speech in which he called on U.S. Capitol Police to arrest any immigrants who showed up to the speech with falsified documents. Many Democrats brought DACA recipients as guests to the speech to protest President Donald Trump’s position on immigration.

Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-New Mexico, sponsored the censure resolution that claimed Gosar had violated the House’s Code of Official Conduct with his “inappropriate actions that intimated State of the Union guests and discredited the House.”

The resolution was tabled Tuesday, 231-187, on a straight party-line vote.

“I will not be intimidated by her left-wing non-sense and efforts to silence my speech,” said Gosar in a statement after the vote. “I will not be intimidated by threats of censure or by their hate speech.”

Grisham, who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, rejected the charge that she was going after Gosar’s free-speech rights. She said the fear-inducing nature of his words before the address was “like yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre.”

“He has a constitutional right to speak his mind, but he’s stoking fear,” Grisham said in a written statement Wednesday. “That is unnecessary and dangerous.”

The free-speech fight played out mostly through Twitter, where Gosar released his official statement and tagged Grisham’s official Twitter account, asking, “So you want to condemn my free speech?”

Grisham responded with a tweet of her own saying, “No, not condemning your speech, just your racial stereotyping.”

The back-and-forth mirrored the debate last week, when Gosar used Twitter to announce his call for “arresting any illegal aliens in attendance” and critics fired back on the social media platform.

Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix, tweeted that Gosar’s tweets are “an example of the decay and rot in the GOP.” Other Democrats joined in, with House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer calling it “shameful and wrong” and New York Rep. Joe Crowley asking, “What’s wrong with you?”

Republicans joined in, with Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake tweeting, “This is why we can’t have nice things,” and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Florida, calling Gosar’s statement “drastic and cruel” in her own tweet.

The Twitter feuding continued this week, when Gosar posted an official statement that called out fellow Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Tucson, along with the rest of the Hispanic caucus.

“It’s important to note that the resolution says my efforts to enforce the law does not ‘reflect creditably on the House,'” a charge Gosar called “as laughable as it is ironic” because of the lawmakers who leveled it. He singled out Grijalva, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Illinois, and Rep. Adriano Espaillat, D-New York, lawmakers who were arrested in September during a protest at Trump Tower in New York.

Grijalva did not tweet in reply, but did issue a written statement Wednesday.

“I stand by my colleagues from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in denouncing his comments and stand in solidarity with immigrants,” the statement from his office said.

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