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Alabama AG says he’ll investigate his group’s role in deadly riot

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said he’s unaware the group he leads was involved in the rally.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall speaking during a congressional hearing in 2018.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall in a statement to APR on Friday said he was unaware the nonprofit he leads made “decisions” with regard to the rally that later devolved into an insurrection at the Capitol on Wednesday in Washington D.C. 

Marshall heads the Republican Attorneys General Association’s policy branch, the dark-money nonprofit Rule of Law Defense Fund, which is listed as a participating organization for the March to Save America on the march’s website, as are the groups Stop the Steal, Tea Party Patriots and Turning Point Action.

Prior to the protest, RLDF sent out robocalls detailing when and where citizens should meet, which was first reported by Documented

“We will march to the Capitol building and call on Congress to stop the steal,” the robocall says, as recorded by Documented. “We are hoping patriots like you will join us to continue to fight to protect the integrity of our elections. For more information, visit MarchtoSaveAmerica.com. This call is paid for and authorized by the Rule of Law Defense Fund.” 

Marshall said in a statement:

“I was unaware of unauthorized decisions made by RLDF staff with regard to this week’s rally. Despite currently transitioning into my role as the newly elected chairman of RLDF, it is unacceptable that I was neither consulted about nor informed of those decisions. I have directed an internal review of this matter. As I said yesterday, I condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the actions of those who attempted to storm the U.S. Capitol, a place where passionate but peaceful protestors had gathered and lawmakers debated inside. Our country is built upon the foundation of the rule of law. American democracy guarantees the right of peaceful protest. Those who chose to engage in violence and anarchy should and will be held accountable under the law.”

“We have no further comment,” reads a message from Marshall’s communications director, Mike Lewis, which accompanied Marshall’s statement. 

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APR’s attempts to contact RLDF and Marshall, through his office, on Thursday were unsuccessful, but RAGA’s executive director, Adam Piper, sent a statement to APR blaming staff for the nonprofit’s role in the rally:

“The Republican Attorneys General Association and Rule of Law Defense Fund had no involvement in the planning, sponsoring, or the organization of yesterday’s rally. No Republican AG authorized the staff’s decision to amplify a colleague speaking at the rally. Organizationally and individually, we strongly condemn and disavow the events which occurred. Yesterday was a dark day in American history and those involved in the violence and destruction of property must be prosecuted and held accountable.”

Wednesday’s riots and insurrection resulted in one woman’s death after she was shot by police while entering the Capitol, and the deaths of three others due to “medical emergencies” during the riot, including one Alabama man, Kevin Greeson of Athens. Another Alabama man, 70-year-old Lonnie Coffman of Falkvillle, was arrested near the Capitol and charged with firearms crimes. The New York Times reported a 70-year-old Alabama man was arrested with a gun and ingredients to make Molotov cocktails. 

U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died at approximately 9:30 p.m. on Thursday after being injured by rioters during the Capitol siege Wednesday, Capitol Police said. 

The website for the rally — marchtosaveamerica.com — is now down, but from the earliest archived version available, on Jan. 3, RAGA is listed as one of the 10 “coalition partners.” Later that same day, in a separate archived version of the site, RAGA was no longer listed as a participant but was instead replaced with RLDF. 

Marshall isn’t the only state attorney general distancing himself from any connection to planning the rally that resulted in violence and death. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, an executive board member at RAGA, denied any knowledge of the group and its policy arm being involved in the rally, according to the Arkansas Times. 

“I had no knowledge or role regarding any efforts made by RAGA or RLDF as to this issue. Contact RAGA or RLDF for any further questions,” Rutledge told the outlet in a statement. 

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a former RAGA chairman and former RAGA executive committee member, spoke at the Wednesday rally just before riots broke out. 

“The message goes on. We will not quit fighting,” Paxton told the crowd. 

Marshall in a statement on Wednesday condemned the violence at the Capitol:

“I condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the actions of those who today attempted to storm the Capitol, a place where passionate but peaceful protestors had gathered and lawmakers debated inside. Our country is built upon the foundation of the rule of law. American democracy guarantees the right of peaceful protest. Those who chose to engage in violence and anarchy should and will be held accountable under the law. I stand by the brave men and women of law enforcement as they work to restore order. God bless the Capitol Police and all members of law enforcement who, as always, have showed such great courage in protecting their fellow man.”

Marshall was named to RAGA’s executive committee in November 2018,  and became a member of the organization after being appointed the state’s attorney general by Gov. Robert Bentley in February 2017. 

“I am honored to lead RAGA’s policy branch, the Rule of Law Defense Fund, and bring conservative attorneys general together in promotion of federalism, freedom, and the rule of law,” Marshall said in a Nov. 10 statement to RAGA

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Eddie Burkhalter
Written By

Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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