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Chapter Two

The Legislators

On May 4, 2022, Arizona State Senator Wendy Rogers traveled nearly 900 miles to fire up a crowd of activists in Meridian, Idaho. State legislators rarely travel cross-country to speak at rallies, but Rogers is part of a nationwide election denial effort to overturn the 2020 election. “They stole the election,” she declared.

She told the crowd about alleged voter fraud in her home state and Idaho. She demanded, “We can never give up. This is our country, and we’re going to take it back! And we will not move on to 2022 until we find the truth about 2020.”

Rogers was not alone in pushing election denial themes. Idaho State Rep. Dorothy Moon followed with announcements of the showing of election conspiracy documentaries across the state. Rep. Moon called Rogers her “new best friend” and said, “We are sisters, sisters of the West.” (Moon is a member of six different far-right groups documented in this report, including COVID Denial and militia groups).

On top of Sen. Rogers’ “Stop the Steal” election-denial efforts, she gained recent national notoriety for embracing white nationalist figures online and speaking at the recent white nationalist AFPAC III conference in Orlando, Florida.[5] Like Sen. Rogers, Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin also spoke to the Florida white nationalist gathering and was the featured speaker of the Idaho event.

In a classic case study in the mainstreaming of far-right ideas, virtually all the far-right themes documented in this report were trumpeted at the Meridian rally: election denial, COVID denial, anti-vaccine “health freedom,” Islamophobia, antisemitic conspiracies, attacks on Black Lives Matter and Black history under the anti-“Critical Race Theory” banner, anti-abortion, “groomer” anti-LGBTQIA bigotry, and even open appeals to white nationalism.

Like Sen. Rogers and Lt. Gov. McGeachin, other speakers or special guests at that white nationalist conference found their way onto the Idaho stage, including Michelle Malkin and Stew Peters.

Michelle Malkin is a Colorado-based far-right pundit who has become one of the white nationalist movement’s biggest allies. At the Idaho event, Malkin regurgitated conspiracies of mainstream Republicans as dangerous pedophiles preying on children, “those people in public office who claim to represent your values, and who are in bed, almost literally, with the woke enemies, who are predators of your children, are traitors. They are traitors! They deserved to be run out on the rail.”

Adopting the buzzwords of white nationalism, Malkin also encouraged the crowd to “reclaim the public schools” and inculcate “historic American values” in children to create immunity from the “Marxist virus” and “anti-white hatred.”

Stew Peters, the former bounty hunter who bandies white nationalist themes on his Minnesota-based podcast, amplified the exterminationist rhetoric onstage in Meridian. Peters launched a bigoted attack on public schools, “If tiny Brad cared so much about stopping child abuse, maybe he’d do more to get groomers and perverts and tranny freakshows out of our public schools”—Brad referring to Idaho Governor Brad Little, a recurring target throughout the event.

Ramping up his attacks, Peters detailed the violent outcomes he envisioned, “this is not an enemy that can be reasoned with. It has to be met with firm resolve. You don’t negotiate with Antifa; you imprison it. You don’t ask permission from Dr. Fauci Mengele to go outside,  you ignore him, and you indict him, and you try him, and you fry him.” He was met with applause.

“You don’t reason with critical race theorists. You fire them,” he continued. “And then you take their educator’s license, and you put them on a list to fire educators so they may never be hired again, ever again, or be in a classroom with our children. In a nutshell, you don’t do deals with the devil. We allow God to work through us, and we crush him,” Peters concluded.

Diego Rodriguez, a theocracy-minded leader in Ammon Bundy’s People’s Rights network, made a brief appearance onstage during the rally. (Rodriguez was also seen in the crowd taking selfies with another speaker at the Florida white nationalist conference, “Groyper” Vincent James Foxx.)

At the end of the rally, Lt. Gov. McGeachin returned to the stage to support Todd Engel, previously sentenced to 14 years in prison for his role in the 2014 Cliven Bundy Bunkerville standoff.[6]

The Meridian rally was a perfect real-world reflection of the symbiotic relationship between far-right activists and a shocking number of state legislators. Sen. Rogers and Rep. Moon are just two of the 875 legislators identified by the IREHR research team who joined far-right Facebook groups.

Next, we explore the overall picture of legislator membership in far-right Facebook groups around the country and how we uncovered this growing problem.


State Legislators


Far-Right Groups


Anti-Human Rights Bills

A Note About Our Research Approach

Some legislators have shown allegiance to far-right groups by publicly taking up far-right causes or speaking at far-right rallies. A labor-intensive effort to track all legislative appearances at far-right events would illuminate one side of the relationship between far-right groups and legislators, but only the side they most want to share.

It is also true that some legislators use other social media platforms, such as Twitter, Instagram, Telegram, Gab, Parler, MeWe, WimKin, GETTR, and Truth Social, to interact with far-right groups. This relationship on those platforms deserves additional scrutiny. However, Facebook remains the dominant platform for state legislator interaction with far-right groups.

At the same time, far-right groups are not exactly forthcoming with their membership rosters. A few lists have turned up through leaks or legal cases. Yet, particularly with the names of connected legislators, far-right groups have historically kept members’ names tightly guarded secrets. This changed when many far-right groups turned management of those membership rosters over to social media companies like Facebook.

The IREHR research team searched thousands of far-right Facebook groups for the identifiable personal, campaign, and official Facebook profile URLs of all 7,383 state legislators in the U.S. during the 2021-2022 period.[7] As a result, the team identified 875 legislators as members of one or more far-right groups. Of course, not every legislator identified in this report can be characterized as expressing “far-right” ideology. However, all of them have become members of far-right Facebook groups.

Not every legislator who was in office in 2021 finished their term. Of the 875 legislators documented in this report, 19 were no longer serving as of April 2022. Three had been expelled, 10 left the legislature, three died, and two were not re-elected. To present a complete record of the problem during this period, information on those 19 legislators remains in this report.

Unless otherwise noted, all of the people and data in this report are specific to the group of 875 state legislators who were in office during the 2021-22 legislative period and who joined far-right Facebook groups.

Partisan Breakdown

In a review of 7,383 seats in state legislatures in the 2021-2022 legislative session, our research found:

  • Republicans held 4,011 total seats.[8] Of these, IREHR found that 872 had joined far-right Facebook groups—21.74% of all Republican state legislators.
  • Democrats held 3,277 total seats (2,413 house, 864 senate seats), three of whom had joined far-right Facebook groups, or 0.09% of all Democratic state legislators.

No Libertarian or independent legislators were found in far-right Facebook groups.

Gender Breakdown

Men are dominant among the legislators who joined far-right groups. Notably, the percentage of women serving in state legislatures that have joined far-right groups is lower than the overall percentage of women serving in state legislatures.

Of the legislators who joined one or more far-right Facebook groups, 661 appear to identify as male (75.54%) and 214 as female (24.45%).[9] By comparison, 31.2% of all legislative seats are currently held by women.[10]

Of the legislators that are members of far-right groups, the percentage of women among them is also lower than some of the far-right movements they joined.  Historically, women have not made up a significant population in far-right organizations, but the gender gap is closing. At the height of the Tea Party movement, men made up 66%, and women made up 33% of the supporter base. COVID Denial groups are more evenly split, and women outnumber men in many anti-mask/anti-vaxx groups. None of the legislators are known to have identified as trans or non-binary.

Most of the State Legislators that Joined Far-Right Groups were Men

Geographic Breakdown

The IREHR research team found that legislators representing each of the 50 states joined far-right Facebook groups, and only slightly larger numbers from the South and Midwest had joined than from other regions.

That said, the representation of state legislators in the groups was highest in New Hampshire (62), followed by Pennsylvania (40), Minnesota (39), Missouri (36), Arkansas (34), Montana (34), Maine (34), Georgia (32), Washington (30), and Maryland (27). Table 2.1 is a complete breakdown of state totals.

By comparison, the total number of legislators in far-right Facebook groups as a percentage of specific state legislatures found Alaska the highest, with 35%. Following close behind were Arkansas (25.19%), Idaho (22.86%), Montana (22.67%),  Washington (20.41%), Minnesota (19.4%), Maine (18.28%), and Missouri (18.27%). Table 2.2 ranks states by overall composition of the state legislature.

Table 2.1: State Totals

StateLegislators in Far-Right GroupsPercentage of legislature
New Hampshire6214.62
New Jersey1512.5
New Mexico1210.71
New York83.76
North Carolina2615.29
North Dakota149.93
Rhode Island76.19
South Carolina242.05
South Dakota76.67
West Virginia139.7

People often think of the problem of far-right encroachment into the mainstream as isolated by region, perhaps with higher concentrations in the Deep South or the Pacific Northwest. On the contrary, we found representation spread relatively uniformly across all regions, with the largest numbers in the South (264), followed by the Midwest (221), the West (200), and the Northeast (191).

Table 2.2: Legislators in Far-Right Facebook Groups by Region


By Chamber

Of the 875 legislators identified in this report, 654 had seats in lower chambers and 221 in upper chambers.

Among lower chambers, the New Hampshire House of Representatives led the country in the number of legislators in far-right Facebook groups, with 58 of 400. The Missouri House of Representatives followed with 34 of 163 legislators.

The Alaska House of Representatives dominated the list as a percentage of a chamber’s membership, with 15 of the 40 legislators (37.5%) having joined far-right Facebook groups.

Table 2.3 is a complete list of the number of members in each chamber in every state.[11]

MAP 2.1 – Lower Chambers
MAP 2.2 – Upper Chambers

The most significant representation in an upper chamber was in the Minnesota State Senate, with 13 of 67 members (19.4%). In the upper chambers of state legislative bodies, in Arkansas’s Senate, 11 of 35 members (31.43%) showed up in far-right groups. Across the country, six of 20 (30%) in the Alaska Senate joined far-right Facebook groups. Idaho came in third, with 18 of 70 state house members (25.71%).

Table 2.3: Members of Far-Right Facebook Groups by Chamber

New HampshireHouse5814.50%
New HampshireSenate416.67%
New JerseyAssembly1012.50%
New JerseySenate512.50%
New MexicoHouse811.43%
New MexicoSenate49.52%
New YorkAssembly74.67%
New YorkSenate11.59%
North CarolinaHouse1815.00%
North CarolinaSenate816.00%
North DakotaHouse99.57%
North DakotaSenate510.64%
Rhode IslandHouse68.00%
Rhode IslandSenate12.63%
South CarolinaHouse1814.52%
South CarolinaSenate613.04%
South DakotaHouse57.14%
South DakotaSenate25.71%
West VirginiaHouse88.00%
West VirginiaSenate514.71%


Legislators with far-right ties are often portrayed as individually idiosyncratic, particularly by hometown media, lone outliers rather than part of a more significant movement. However, membership in the far-right Facebook groups we examined appears to facilitate the emergence of new legislative connections.

Figure 2.1 represents a social network diagram of the legislators and these far-right groups. As shown in Figure 2.1, the outer edges depict solitary legislators that have connections to single groups or small clusters of legislators and/or groups. While towards the center of the diagram, where most are located, there are substantially more connections.

Figure 2.1 Legislator Social Networking Diagram

The data suggest the potential emergence of a nascent social network of legislators that have joined far-right Facebook groups. At a minimum, it is clear that a budding network of shared far-right misinformation has been joined by many of these legislators. Moreover, it has created a space for future mobilizations and spread attacks on democracy and human rights across the country.


How does the Facebook data compare to other far-right efforts to pierce the mainstream? Some have pointed to state legislator membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a network known for advancing boilerplate far-right legislation, as a key source.

The far-right Facebook group members and ALEC membership rolls do not overlap significantly. Of the 875 legislators we found in Facebook groups, only 199 also were ALEC members, just 22.74%. Of state legislators who have sponsored anti-human rights bills, 607 of the 875 represented in the Facebook data set, just 190 have been identified as ALEC members, an overlap of 31.30%. [12] The data suggests these are relatively distinct constellations of legislators, with both needing additional attention.

By comparison, of those ten active legislators who were members of the far-right paramilitary group, the Oath Keepers, six are members of other far-right Facebook groups identified in this report.[13]

When legislators join far-right groups like those featured in this report, it is problematic in many ways. The legislator lends the imprimatur of their office to the far-right group. Seeing the legislator’s name in a far-right group gives the seal of approval to the group and potentially increases the far-right group’s legitimacy and standing. In turn, legislators find a hardened support base, often outside their core constituency. By gaining office, they also build the capacity to impose an anti-human and civil rights agenda on members of our communities.




Three: Profiles in Far-Right Mainstreaming


[5] Tanner, Chuck. “A DEEP DESIRE TO DOMINATE WITHOUT MERCY” WHITE NATIONALISTS GAIN FRIENDS IN POWER AT AFPAC III. Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights. March 7, 2022.

[6] The United States Attorney’s Office District of Nevada, “Idaho Man Sentenced To 14 Years In Prison For Threat And Assault Of Federal Law Enforcement During 2014 Armed Standoff In Bunkerville.” United States Department of Justice. July 19, 2018.

[7] Methodology: The IREHR research team has collected membership data on a vast range of far-right Facebook groups for a number of years. The specific groups and their categories are examined in section four of this report. One area of inquiry most absent from the data was QAnon membership, as the difficulty of monitoring the quick rise and fall of those Facebook groups made it a far from complete dataset. Also not included in the IREHR research team’s queries, groups that specifically focused on the former president, #MAGA, or “Make America Great Again.” For insights into the Facebook online MAGA world, see Blum, Rachel M. and Parker, Christopher Sebastian. “Panel Study of the MAGA Movement.” University of Washington. Undated. Last Accessed. April 22, 2022. The group membership data includes the name and Profile URL of each member, along with when they joined the group. Some of those groups have since been removed by the platform. The “personal,” “campaign,” and “official” Facebook profile URLs of all available state legislators as compiled by the website, Ballotpedia, ( were queried against the IREHR databases to look for matching URLs in the far-right groups. Those matches were double-checked to confirm account identification and membership.

[8] “Partisan Composition of State Legislatures.” Ballotpedia. Last Accessed April 22, 2022.

[9] At IREHR, we understand that gender is a spectrum, and aim to be respectful of gender-expansive language that conveys a wider range of gender identity than traditionally associated with a binary gender system. None of the legislators in this report have identified themselves as trans, non-binary, or any other definition outside the gender binary. Legislators were identified as “female” in this report using “Women in state Legislatures 2022.” Center for American Women and Politics. Undated. Last Accessed. April 22, 2022., and from “female” pronoun use in Facebook profiles and legislature pages. Legislators “male” identification based on use of “male” pronouns in Facebook profiles and legislative pages.

[10] “Women in state Legislatures 2022.” Center for American Women and Politics. Undated. Last Accessed. April 22, 2022.

[11] Nebraska has a unicameral legislature, meaning only one chamber. For the purposes of this report, Nebraska legislative data is included in the “upper chamber” category.

[12] SourceWatch. “ALEC Politicians.” SourceWatch website. Last Accessed, April 22, 2022. “List of members of the American Legislative Exchange Council.” Wikipedia. Accessed, April 22, 2022.

[13] Chad Christensen, Wendy Rogers, Keith Kidwell, Mike Clampitt, David Eastman, and Steve Tarvin.

Breaching the Mainstream

A National Survey of Far-Right Membership in State Legislatures

Copyright © 2022. Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights.