When House GOP leaders announced Wednesday which members got new seats on the powerful House Oversight and Accountability Committee, most coverage focused on well-known extremists like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.).
But plenty of other lesser-known Republicans were just given seats on this committee who also have trafficked in conspiracy theories and lies. In fact, it’s virtually all of them.
Of the 15 new Republicans tapped for this panel, 13 either voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election based on former President Donald Trump’s lie about it being stolen from him, or are freshman members who have rejected or questioned the validity of President Joe Biden’s win.
New GOP committee members Lisa McClain (Mich.), Lauren Boebert (Colo.), Scott Perry (Pa.), William Timmons (S.C.), Tim Burchett (Tenn.), Gary Palmer (Ala.), Greene and Gosar all voted to overturn the election on Jan. 6, 2021. And all five of the GOP freshmen on the committee — Reps. Anna Paulina Luna (Fla.), Russell Fry (S.C.), Nick Langworthy (N.Y.), Chuck Edwards (N.C.) and Eric Burlison (Mo.) — have either fully denied that Biden won, raised questions about his win or simply refused to say what they think.
Reps. Kelly Armstrong (N.D.) and Mike Turner (Ohio) are the only new GOP members on the panel, out of 15, who haven’t dabbled in lies and conspiracies about the election.
The powerful committee, which under both parties has held high-wattage hearings about various government misdeeds, is already primed to go down some far-right rabbit holes. The chair, Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), has declared that his “top priority” is a probe into a web of conspiracy theories about Hunter Biden, Big Tech and the idea that they suppressed damaging information about Biden’s family businesses ahead of the 2020 election.
In other words, before it’s barely off the ground, this panel is already positioned to be a gas-stove-fueled vector of conspiracies for the next two years.
Some of the new and old Republicans on the committee come with other baggage and bizarre claims, too.
Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas), a returning committee member and former cop, was fired by the Richmond Police Department in 1998 for reasons including mishandling of evidence and then destruction of evidence. This detail is hanging out there at a time when Comer is vowing to investigate Biden over his ordeal with mishandled classified documents.
McClain, meanwhile, falsely claimed last year that Trump “caught Osama bin Laden,” the al Qaeda leader who was killed in a 2011 raid ordered by President Barack Obama. During a pro-Trump rally last year, she also suggested that Biden didn’t win the 2020 election because, motioning to the crowd, “He couldn’t have this many people at a rally, the State of the Union combined.”
Timmons has made some especially wild claims prior to landing his seat on the committee. In January 2021, he suggested that just before the 2020 election, rich people colluded with liberals and state and federal judges to manipulate election laws in swing states to make it easier to vote and more difficult to challenge the results of an election.
“These efforts were numerous, targeted, and in open contravention of legal norms,” Timmons said at the time.
The actions by liberals and judges were “unprecedented and unconstitutional,” he continued, and what made it more scary was that “Big Tech, the media and ‘pollsters’ piled on” to change the outcome of the election. All told, these factors were “drastically worse than the supposed (and debunked) ‘Russian collusion’ in the 2016 election,” he concluded.
None of this makes any sense. But it’s the conspiracy Timmons pushed right before voting to overturn the 2020 presidential election results based on Trump’s conspiracies about widespread voter fraud ― the same conspiracies that fueled a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol just hours earlier.