A steady voice for conservatism for 40 years, Congressman Hal Rogers was making waves on both sides of the aisle Thursday after joining 146 other Republicans in the United States Senate and House of Representatives in objecting to results of the Electoral College declaring Joe Biden as President-elect over President Donald Trump — the only member of the Kentucky delegation to do so.
The joint Congressional proceedings to certify the election results were delayed Wednesday by some eight hours after a throng of pro-Trump supporters broke through barricades surrounding the Capitol building — forcing an emergency recess and lockdown.
The disruption caused legislators to scrap objections to the electoral results in several battleground states but ultimately objections to two states — Arizona and Pennsylvania — moved forward for each chamber to debate. Though both objections were defeated, with several legislators even changing their minds due to Wednesday's events after previously stating they would object, a total of eight senators and 139 representatives voted to sustain either one or both.
Congressman Rogers voted to sustain objections in both Arizona and Pennsylvania, though he had kept his intentions close to the vest prior to releasing the following statement Wednesday night:
"The electoral process in America has been one of most defining attributes of this great nation, evolving over time to ensure the voice of every person is heard, regardless of race, creed or color. In 2020, a record number of Americans participated in the general election, entrusting their support and confidence for the office of the President of the United States and the individuals who now make up this 117th Congress.
"That's how our voices are best heard, by exercising the rights granted us by the bloodshed of countless American soldiers and the foresight of the founders of this great nation. Over the last four decades, I have witnessed many peaceful protests on Capitol grounds, as individuals freely and passionately stand for what they believe in. However, inciting violence at the Capitol, the very grounds where elected leaders gather to echo the voices of our home districts, is an un-American attack on the very foundation of our sovereign nation.
"The 2020 presidential election was unlike any other. Uncertainty and a lack of confidence began to grow amongst voters across the country as some states made late changes to the election process, resulting in mounting reports of irregularities and election fraud. Postponed election audits and legal hearings have also led to valid questions about the integrity of this election that are still unresolved.
"In fact, I received hundreds of calls and emails from people across southern and eastern Kentucky questioning the integrity of the presidential election in other states. Every American should have confidence in knowing that every fair vote is accurately counted. Therefore, on behalf of the people of Kentucky's Fifth Congressional District, I am objecting to electoral votes tied to allegations of election fraud and voting irregularities in the 2020 presidential election.
One of the greatest signs of a healthy democracy is the peaceful transfer of power, including the process of certifying Electoral College results through a Joint Session of Congress, representing Americans from every state in the union. I love this institution and take great pride in echoing the voice of the people of Kentucky's Fifth Congressional District. While I know that an objection will not likely change the course of this election, let it be a resounding echo of all Americans who want to restore confidence in a secure election process for a stronger nation."
Rogers' vote earned a resounding rebuke from the Kentucky Democratic Party, who called for his resignation.
"Yesterday, after domestic terrorists breached the U.S. Capitol in one of the worst moments in our country's history, Congressman Hal Rogers did the unthinkable: he enabled and emboldened the mob by voting to overturn the will of the American voters," KDP spokesperson Marisa McNee stated. "It was an act so reprehensible that no other Republican in Kentucky's federal delegation was willing to join Rogers. If Hal Rogers wants to side with domestic terrorists, he should resign from Congress immediately and let someone else represent his district."
Without calling out the Congressman by name, the Republican Party of Kentucky also criticized objections to the Electoral College certification.
“The Republican Party of Kentucky worked hard to deliver our state’s electoral votes for the Republican ticket," state GOP chair Mac Brown stated. "We thank Kentucky’s presidential electors for their service to our state and country.
“The Electoral College is a critical piece of the vision of representative government set forth by the Founders in our Constitution. We stand against any attempts to overturn these principles.
“The world looks to our country to set an example of leadership. Now that our election is over it is time for Americans to unite together behind the principles set forth in our laws and Constitution.”
Rogers' spokesperson Danielle Smoot assured the newspaper Thursday afternoon that Rogers had no intention of resigning. She referred back to Rogers' prior statement, emphasizing "the process of certifying Electoral College results through a Joint Session of Congress, representing Americans from every state in the union."
As for his constituents, Rogers' statement on social media had garnered some 375 comments as of 2:30 p.m. Thursday with reaction very much split. Pulaski County Republican Chair Bill Turpen told the Commonwealth Journal that he would like to see more investigation into how the 2020 presidential election was conducted in states where fraud was alleged.
"There needs to be some reforms," Turpen said, "not federally but in those states. The pandemic caused it to be loosely organized with loose voting accountability."
The local GOP leader was quick to note those concerns didn't extend to Kentucky and the expansion of early voting due to the pandemic.
"We need [Kentucky Secretary of State] Michael Adams duplicated because I think he ran a very good election this time," Turpen said, adding praise for Pulaski County Clerk Linda Burnett on the local level as well. "…Early voting is here to stay, I think. That's okay; there just needs to be accountability."
Turpen continued that Rogers' vote reflected the "strong feelings" of many of his constituents. Of Wednesday's disturbance, Turpen condemned violence but noted that people had the right to demonstrate and that much of the protests had been peaceful "until that last barrage.
"The protestors — not the ones in the Capitol so much — but they felt they had a president that has stood up for them for years," he said. "They're very frustrated and …feel like he was done wrong. I think that Congressman Rogers voted for the concerns of his constituents and himself."
Turpen again condemned Wednesday's disturbance, saying it had been compared not only to the British burning of the Capitol in 1814 but also the 1954 shooting into the House chamber by four Puerto Rican nationalists.
"Nobody can defend what they did, breaking into the Capitol," Turpen said. "Our Capitol building, that dome, is a sign of stability and freedom all over the world."