Va. Senate considers censuring Sen. Amanda Chase
Democrats sponsor resolution charging that Chase "engaged in insurrection"
State Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, faces censure after a Democratic colleague filed a resolution Thursday alleging that Chase “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the U.S. Constitution when she participated in the pro-Trump rally Jan. 6 that led to the violent takeover of the U.S. Capitol.
The resolution has been sent to the Democratic-controlled Senate Privileges and Elections committee, which meets Tuesday. A censure does not include any further penalties, but it is relatively rarely used by Virginia’s Senate and is its harshest sanction against one of its own, except for expulsion, which requires a two-thirds majority vote. The last time a member was censured was in 1986, when Norfolk Sen. Peter Balabas was censured for unethical conduct — casting votes in violation of conflict of interest rules.
Chase, who is seeking the GOP’s Virginia gubernatorial nomination this year, “addressed a crowd gathered in Washington, D.C., to urge that action be taken to overturn the lawfully conducted 2020 presidential election,” says the resolution sponsored by Sen. John J. Bell, D-Loudoun, with support from co-sponsoring Democrats. The measure seeks to censure Chase for “fomenting insurrection against the United States.”
In the Senate’s noon session, Chase preemptively spoke against the proposed censure, saying it was “outrageous” and “hypocritical” that lawmakers who had participated in social justice protests last summer, which Chase characterized as violent, would consider punishing her for speaking at the Jan. 6 “Save America March” event that immediately preceded the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Last week, Chase’s official state Senate page was restricted by Facebook, not allowing her to broadcast live video or advertise for 60 days, or to post or comment on the page for a week.
Senate Democrats also called for Chase to resign following the breach of the U.S. Capitol, which led to five deaths, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer who was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher. She refused, defending her presence at the demonstration.
“If you’re going to call me out, I’m going to start calling people out in this room,” Chase warned Thursday as she stood inside a Plexiglas cubicle because she refuses to wear a face mask.
Chase said that she “will not be lectured about civility by the same politicians who remained silent while our cities and communities were burned and destroyed by domestic terrorists groups Antifa and BLM.” The senator then invoked the BLM slogan “Say her name,” which gained popularity in protests after Louisville, Kentucky, police shot and killed Breonna Taylor, a Black emergency room technician, last year in her apartment. However, Chase used the phrase in reference to Ashli Babbitt, a white California woman who was shot and killed by a U.S. Capitol officer while participating in the Capitol riots.
Chase also used the opportunity to promote her gubernatorial run, claiming, “The people of America had no one to fight for them until Trump; the people of Virginia had no one to fight for them until me,” Chase said.
The senator from Chesterfield further argued that she and other Republicans felt Virginia’s election laws had been degraded “under the pretense of COVID” and blamed state Democrats for creating loopholes for potential voter fraud, including ending the photo ID requirement at polling places and allowing ballots to be dropped off at unattended boxes.
She added that overwhelming numbers of Republican voters believe the election was stolen in favor of President-elect Joe Biden, although no evidence of widespread voter fraud has been proven in Virginia or other states. “I had to be there [at the rally] to represent those of us who believe the election was stolen from we the people.”
She described attendees at the Jan. 6 rally as “patriots” and said that the events she attended were “peaceful.” She said she did not support or call for violence. “I think it’s wrong what happened, and I stand against the violence.” In videos she posted that day on social media, Chase apparently left the area around the Capitol before the breach occurred and left Washington, D.C., entirely by mid-afternoon on Jan. 6.
“Repeating lies and conspiracy theories does not make them true,” said Sen. Adam P. Ebbin, D-Alexandria, one of the resolution’s co-sponsors, after Chase’s speech. “The reason some voters’ confidence has been impacted is because some so-called leaders use misinformation, fake news and lies. Leadership requires truth.”
Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment Jr., R-Virginia Beach, also criticized Chase for using her Senate privileges to promote her governor campaign.
“The point of personal privilege is not to be prostituted for an individual of personal, political promotion that has previously been broadcast on social media to encourage people to watch,” Norment said, referring to a tweet by Chase on Wednesday, which promised “surprises” at the Senate session and encouraged her followers to tune in.
“I’m not a good person to throw the hatchet down in the ground in front of me, and I suggest that when we talk about lectures, I really don’t want a lecture on what’s going on with national politics,” Norment said. “I am more concerned about what we’re going to do here the next 27 or 28 days.”