Tim Finchem, the Maricopa County Recorder, is facing scrutiny and sanctions after participating in a lawsuit that sought to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Arizona. Finchem was one of the plaintiffs in a case that claimed widespread voter fraud in the state, but the lawsuit was dismissed by a judge who called it “baseless, speculative and unsupported by proof.”

The case, filed in December 2020, sought to prevent Arizona from certifying its votes for President-elect Joe Biden. The suit claimed that nearly 200,000 votes were illegally cast, and that Dominion Voting Systems, the company that provided voting machines to Maricopa County, was responsible for “systemic defects” that allowed for voter fraud.

However, the case was dismissed in early January 2021 by U.S. District Judge Diane Humetewa. The judge wrote that the lawsuit lacked credible evidence and was based on “strained legal arguments” that were unpersuasive.

Despite the ruling, Finchem continued to push the false narrative of widespread voter fraud in Arizona, even after the county’s Republican-led Board of Supervisors unanimously certified the results of the election in November 2020. Finchem made several public statements in support of former President Donald Trump’s claims of voter fraud, and even traveled to Washington D.C. to attend the infamous “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6, the same day that a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.

In response to Finchem’s actions, the Arizona House Ethics Committee initiated an investigation into his conduct, and in May 2021, the committee recommended that Finchem be punished for violating the legislature’s code of ethics by spreading baseless claims of voter fraud. The committee’s report stated that Finchem “undermined public trust in the electoral process by promoting a false and unfounded narrative of fraud, sowing seeds of doubt among Arizona’s voters that the election results were not reliable.”

The committee, made up of both Republicans and Democrats, recommended that Finchem be reprimanded by the full House of Representatives and be stripped of his ability to serve on committees for the remainder of his term, which ends in January 2023. However, the final decision on punishment will be up to the House Speaker Rusty Bowers, who is also a Republican.

Finchem has responded to the committee’s report with defiance and has refused to apologize for his actions. In a statement, Finchem said that the committee’s findings were “political theater” and that the investigation was an attempt to silence him and other Republicans who questioned the integrity of the election. He wrote that he “will not be intimidated into silence” and that he will continue to fight for “election integrity.”

Finchem’s refusal to accept the results of the election and his eagerness to promote baseless claims of voter fraud have earned him the support of many Trump supporters and far-right activists. He has endorsed conspiracy theories like the QAnon movement and has been praised by some far-right media outlets for standing up to the “corrupt” election system.

However, Finchem’s actions have also drawn criticism from many Arizonans who see his behavior as an attack on democracy and a threat to the integrity of the electoral system. The Arizona Republic, the state’s largest newspaper, called on Finchem to resign in May, writing in an editorial that his actions were “a violation of his oath of office and an assault on American democracy.”

The newspaper wrote that Finchem’s “unfounded and repeatedly disproven assertions about a stolen election and rampant voter fraud” were responsible for fueling the fire of misinformation and conspiracy theories that led to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. The paper said that Finchem’s refusal to accept the results of the election had “dragged the public trust in our democratic systems and institutions to new lows.”

The debate over Finchem’s conduct is likely to continue in the coming months, as the House of Representatives deliberates on what punishment, if any, he will face. However, regardless of the outcome, Finchem’s case serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of spreading false information about elections and democracy. As the nation continues to grapple with the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, it is important to recognize that baseless claims of voter fraud and conspiracy theories only serve to undermine the legitimacy of the electoral process and erode the foundation of democracy.