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Constituents Want Consequences for Western Lawmakers Who Contributed To Capitol Violence

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Courtesy George Autobee
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Protesters gathered at a Pueblo, Colorado, rally on January 8 to call for the removal of Rep. Lauren Boebert from Congress. The Colorado lawmaker has amplified the president's false claims of election fraud that incited violence in the Capitol.

Some Western legislators face increasing criticism for helping to incite violence in the U.S. Capitol last week, especially Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert.

Colorado's Attorney General Philip Weiser called Boebert "an embarrassment" at a Denver rally on Sunday. A few days prior, people gathered in several Colorado towns in the state's 3rd Congressional District to call for the Republican legislator's removal from Congress.

"Although she wasn't one of the rioters, she was spreading their agenda and all their lies," said George Autobee, who organized a rally in Pueblo with Rural Colorado United.

Autobee is a combat veteran who launched the grassroots political action committee to oppose Boebert's candidacy and far-right agenda.

He acknowledges Boebert's removal from Congress or resignation is unlikely. What is more realistic, he says, is working to limit her power. He says that means ensuring the freshman lawmaker doesn't secure a seat on congressional committees. Rural Colorado United is also looking for a viable candidate to unseat Boebert when her term expires in two years.

Boebert, who drew headlines last week for declaring she will carry a firearm in the nation's capital, has amplified President Donald Trump's baseless claims of election fraud.

On the morning of the insurrection, she fanned the flames tweeting, "Today is 1776" and gave a speech on the House floor pushing election conspiracy theories and calling some of the rioters outside who had yet to invade the Capitol Building her "constituents."

Dozens of Colorado leaders and community members have signed onto an open letter calling for her resignation and that of Rep. Doug Lamborn. He too peddled Trump's unfounded election fraud claims and rejected the certification of Electoral College votes even after he and his colleagues were under siege in the Capitol.

Boebert did not respond to a question about helping to incite violence in the Capitol. Instead, someone from her team emailed a statement saying she has repeatedly denounced the violence.

In Montana, University of Montana political scientist Rob Saldin co-wrote an op-ed in the Billings Gazette urging Sen. Steve Daines to resign.

Saldin and co-author David C.W. Parker pointed out Daines's record of stalwart support for Trump at every turn. What's more alarming, they wrote, is that "Daines' support for overturning the election was nothing short of a traitorous act of disloyalty to American democracy and to the Constitution, which he swore to defend."

Daines sowed doubt in the election results, including sending text messages to Montanans accusing Democrats of stealing the election. Saldin says the Montana lawmaker bears some responsibility for the consequences.

"People died, the country's been humiliated, and our democracy is in a crisis," he told the Mountain West News Bureau.

Petitions calling for Western lawmakers to resign are making their rounds online and amassing thousands of signatures.

A petition calling for Daines's resignation has collected more than 23,000 signatures.

Daines is undaunted, according to his deputy press secretary Rachel Dumke. She said in an email that “calls to censure or reprimand members of Congress does nothing more than fan the flames of partisan political division.”

Another petition calling for Wyoming's Sen. Cynthia Lummis's resignation has drawn more than 2,600 signatures. She pushed baseless allegations of widespread election fraud and was the only senator from the Mountain West to reject the certification of Electoral College votes.

Lummis did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.

In Utah, Reps. Burgess Owens and Chris Stewart rejected the certification of electoral votes. The watchdog group Better Utah has called for their resignation.

"Our representatives must face the reality that their incendiary words and actions are fueling the fire of violence and extremism," reads part of the statement issued by Better Utah.

A petition making the same demand has drawn more than 3,700 signatures.

The Utah Congressmen did not immediately respond to email requests for comment.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.