U.S. Sen. Rand Paul plans to attend a “Save America Summit” hosted by a group that organized the controversial Jan. 6 rally in Washington, D.C., that preceded the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol that day.
The event is set for April 8-11 at a Florida golf resort former President Donald Trump’s company owns. It’s hosted by Women for America First, a major organizer of the rally where Trump urged a huge crowd to oppose Congress’s certification of President Joe Biden’s election.
Many people who attended that rally marched to the Capitol, where Trump supporters violently breached the government building and forced members of Congress to evacuate. Five people died, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer, and a lot of those who participated in the riot have since been arrested.
Paul’s decision to attend the “Save America Summit,” where he’s expected to discuss election issues, has raised eyebrows.
The Kentucky Democratic Party accused Paul of kickstarting a “national insurrectionist tour” by signing onto the summit, as well as by recently going to Colorado, where he spent time with U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Republican representing that state whose comments before and during the Jan. 6 riot have been heavily scrutinized.
Boebert posted a picture of herself and Paul on March 28, saying: “Giving a big Colorado welcome to one of the Constitution’s fiercest defenders, @RandPaul! Working hard together to #ReOpenAmerica!”
Paul responded with his own tweet saying: “Proud to stand with @laurenboebert.”
Boebert has said the violence at the Capitol was “inexcusable.” Regardless, some comments she made drew a lot of criticism and attention, including a tweet she sent the morning of Jan. 6 that said: “Today is 1776.”
The Kentucky Democratic Party criticized Paul in a Monday blog post: “Roughly a year out from the 2022 filing deadline for his re-election, Senator Rand Paul has kicked off what appears to be a national tour with groups and individuals who supported the January 6 insurrection.”
KDP spokesperson Marisa McNee added: “While portions of Kentucky were once again hit with devastating flooding over the weekend, Rand Paul was partying in Colorado in a desperate attempt to position himself to run for president again. He continues to pursue his own selfish ambitions rather than focus on his constituents. It’s clear Rand Paul does not care about Kentucky.”
Paul, who ran for president in 2016, has not announced any plans to seek the Oval Office again in 2024. He has said he’s focused on his reelection race next year.
Paul’s office provided this statement Wednesday: “Dr. Paul supported seating the state certified electors, did not advocate for the Jan 6th rally, and called for an immediate withdrawal of everyone who illegally entered the Capitol. Dr. Paul is also willing to work with colleagues from all sides, both at home and in Washington, on election security and reform.”
Earlier this year, Paul said he does not think politicians should be impeached for political speech and criticized the idea of holding politicians responsible for violence other people inflict.
Women for America First said in a tweet on Jan. 6 that it was not involved in breaching the Capitol and doesn’t condone violence.
The organization’s recent announcement that Paul will attend April’s “Save America Summit” said he’ll discuss “his common sense #Electionintegrity plan to make sure Nov 2020 NEVER happens again.”
Women for America First, Trump himself and other conservative politicians and groups, including Boebert, have falsely claimed Biden’s election last fall was illegitimate.
Similarly, Paul baselessly said the election “in many ways was stolen” during a congressional hearing in December. He also has falsely claimed — without proof — that voter fraud was a major problem in the 2020 election.
He voted to certify Biden’s victory in Congress on Jan. 6, though.
Since then, Paul has said he plans to spend the next two years pushing for state legislatures around the country to pass new laws aimed at stopping fraud.
However, election officials and experts around the country have said there has been no widespread fraud.
“Massive voter fraud is the monster under the bed that doesn’t exist to any measurable degree (in any form),” election law expert and University of Kentucky professor Josh Douglas told The Courier Journal last fall.
More days and ways to vote: How Kentucky is breaking with red states on voting access
So far, Paul offered input on and supported at least one state-level change to election law: House Bill 574, a landmark measure the Kentucky legislature just passed that expands voting access by allowing in-person early voting while also instituting several election security-related changes.
Reach reporter Morgan Watkins: 502-582-4502; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @morganwatkins26.