Arizona Republican leader threatened to ‘lynch’ top county election official

Shelby Busch, vice chair of the Maricopa County Republican Committee in Arizona, threatened to lynch the county’s top election official.

In a video, Busch said if Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer “walked into this room, I would lynch him.”

Richer, who is up for reelection, posted the clip Monday on the social platform X.

He noted that Busch was the Maricopa County Republican Party’s 2023 volunteer of the year and an adviser to Republican Senate candidate Kari Lake.

“Interesting choice of words. Not, ‘I’d kick his butt,’ or ‘I’d kill him,’” Richer said. “But ‘lynch.’ Why does that word roll off her tongue given its historical context?”

In the clip, Busch chose an audience member, noting that if that man, who is “a good Christian man,” potentially ran for the county recorder position, there would be unity. She contrasted him with Richer, who is Jewish and a Republican.

“We can work with that, right?” she said. “That’s unity. That’s saying ‘we’re going to shake hands and we’re gonna agree that we’re gonna run a good Christian foundation campaign, and we’re gonna treat each other well and we’re gonna get through this together.’ That’s unity.”

Her comments evoked applause from the crowd. She then went on to criticize Richer, which brought a few laughs.

“I don’t unify with people who don’t believe in the principles we believe in and the American cause that founded this country,” Busch continued. “And so, I want to make that clear when we talk about what it means to unify.”

Busch’s remarks were made at a March campaign event for Republican Jerone Davison, who is running for a U.S. House seat. The event was titled “Uniting Patriots for Victory.”

In his post, Richer questioned the audience’s reaction. He said no one shouted out in protest of Busch’s threat or said she went too far.

“This isn’t healthy. And it’s not responsible. And we shouldn’t want it as part of the Republican Party,” he wrote.

Richer told Politico he was made aware of the video over the weekend and has not heard any outreach from Busch since it was posted.

“It’s unfortunate that this is the current political landscape. Her comments are deeply troubling, especially using the word ‘lynch,’ which carries so much historical weight and pain,” Richer said in a statement to the Hill. “I look forward to returning to civil discourse and a Republican Party that debated issues like tax rates and government spending, not levy heinous threats against one another.”

Davison responded to Richer’s post, defending Busch, who he said is his friend and “isn’t racist at all.” He called Richer’s post a “deflection to take the steam off of the way you ran corrupt elections.”

In a joint statement, the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Phoenix said they were appalled by “these vile remarks.” They called on Busch to retract her statement and apologize to Richer, as well as the Maricopa County Republican Committee to “stand against such rhetoric,” The Arizona Republic reported.

Arizona, a battleground state President Biden won in the last election, has seen is fair share of threats against election workers as Republicans raise questions about the state’s election security after former President Trump and his allies attempted to overturn the results of Biden’s narrow victory in the state.

Busch is part of the We the People AZ Alliance, a conservative group that has falsely claimed the election was stolen from Trump.

The Hill has reached out to the Maricopa County Republican Committee for comment.

This story was updated at 6:56 p.m.

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