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Doug Mastriano faces ethics complaint over support of 2020 election-fraud lie

State Sen. Doug Mastriano addresses supporters from a stage at his gubernatorial campaign's election night headquarters in Camp Hill on Nov. 8, 2022.
Sam Dunklau/WITF
State Sen. Doug Mastriano addresses supporters from a stage at his gubernatorial campaign's election night headquarters in Camp Hill on Nov. 8, 2022.

State Sen. Art Haywood, D-Montgomery, is asking the Senate to investigate Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, for his actions supporting former President Donald Trump’s election-fraud lie that led to the January 6th, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Haywood said Mastriano used his office to spread misinformation about the 2020 election, sowing distrust from the public.

“We know that the public record shows that he used his prominence and reputation in the Senate and his office to conduct a bogus hearing at which advisers of the president, the then-president, who were not under oath, provided testimony, which proved later to be false,” Haywood said.

Haywood was referring to a policy meeting in November 2020 that Mastriano put on in Gettysburg. Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani attended and spread falsehoods about the 2020 election, and Trump called in to add to the disinformation.

Mastriano was at the U.S. Capitol for the rally that led to the riot. He bused in supporters, and was seen crossing police barricades. He denies crossing lines established by law enforcement.

When he announced his plans to run for governor in 2022, his launch party consisted of notable conservatives, including former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who endorsed him.

Flynn was a key figure in the movement that sought to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Multiple audits, recounts, lawsuits and analysis by experts from both political parties have shown that the 2020 election was secure and the results were accurate.

Mastriano lost the election to Gov. Josh Shapiro by nearly 15 percentage points.

Much of the research for Haywood’s ethics complaint was done by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, D.C.

“Senator Mastriano is an election denier who, despite having taken an oath to defend the United States Constitution, he supported and appears to have participated in an insurrection against it,” said Brie Sparkman, the group’s policy counsel. “His continued service in the Pennsylvania Senate poses an acute and ongoing threat to democratic institutions in the Commonwealth and nationwide.”

Michael Fanone, a former officer of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia, was at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, where he was attacked by rioters. Fanone testified before the congressional Jan. 6 committee that he was “grabbed, beaten, tased, all while being called a traitor to my country.”

Fanone has been making media appearances across the country ahead of the three-year anniversary of that day. He stopped in Harrisburg Tuesday.

Fanone said more needs to be done to prevent another Jan. 6 attack.

“I think we need accountability for those responsible, not just the individuals that stormed the Capitol that day, but those who pushed and peddled the lies that inspired those Americans to come to the Capitol and commit acts of violence against law enforcement,” Fanone said.

Haywood’s ethics complaint against Mastriano will be filed and reviewed in the Senate before a decision to start an investigation is made.

Tuesday was the first day of session for the Senate and leadership was not pleased with the announcement, according to press secretary Kate Flessner.

“It is unfortunate we are seeing the new year start with political gamesmanship,” Flessner said. “As outlined in Senate Rules, any ethical complaints are reviewed in a thorough manner.”

According to the rules, the committee will consist of six members, with three from the majority party and three from the minority party.

If Mastriano is found in violation, he could be reprimanded, censured or expelled.

Mastriano’s office did not respond to request for comment.