Why did county attorney Rachel Mitchell appear at an anti-LGBTQ hate group’s event?

A Moms for Liberty event that took place in Mesa last week applauded state legislators who have actively promoted anti-LGBTQ+ policies. But the event also included Rachel Mitchell, the Maricopa County attorney, who has in the past remained silent on the debate waged by conservative lawmakers on LGBTQ+ rights in public schools.

The full meeting was posted on YouTube by AZ Right Watch, an activist group focused on exposing far-right ideologies among the state’s elected officials.

Mitchell’s appearance was a surprise, as her presence wasn’t mentioned in the initial invite to the event. She attended alongside State Superintendent of Public Schools Tom Horne, Sen. Jake Hoffman, Sen. Justine Wadsack, and other local representatives. Mitchell didn’t speak on stage with the other lawmakers, but Rep. Barbara Parker, R-Mesa, pointed her out by name as someone who is “fighting” against pedophilia and grooming inside public schools.

LOOKOUT asked the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office how many cases are being prosecuted dealing with sexual imagery of children, in direct relation to LGBTQ+ publications as the representative alluded. We have not received an answer, but will update this story with comment if we receive one.

Other comments made at the event that targeted LGBTQ+ people included Tom Horne calling queer rights groups, “the crazy” side, as well as state Arizona Freedom Caucus leader Jake Hoffman boasting about his ability to get a law passed that banned diversity training for state agencies. He said students were being indoctrinated, “sexualized and dumbed down.”

It’s unclear how much Mitchell’s political background supports what was said on stage last week, but attending a Moms for Liberty group is suspect, in itself, considering that the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled the group as an anti-LGBTQ+ hate group, as well as an anti-government group.

A speaker at the event dismissed the SPLC’s designation of the group, joking that they were among “radical American terrorists.” The SPLC has been the nation’s leading organization that designates hate groups across the U.S. since the 1990’s, and explains on their website how they label and categorize groups.

Moms for Liberty’s leaders have routinely denounced LGBTQ+ communities and their existence, calling queer people “groomers” and attempting to get queer-friendly books banned from public schools. And their arrival in Mesa comes at a time when the Federal Bureau of Investigation this year noted that Arizona is one of the leading states with the most anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes in the country.

Mitchell’s office didn’t respond to comment on who invited her to the event, nor would her office provide context to her involvement with speakers or the event organizers.

The main speaker at the Moms for Liberty event was Superintendent Horne, who said in media interviews before his appearance he would focus only on charter schools and the state’s voucher program. But at the beginning, Horne spoke about how he was vehemently against trans girls playing in girls sports, and went all the way in quoting an Arkansas lawmaker who said, “We’re involved in a war between the normal and the crazy,” he said, adding that he was the only person in Arizona top leadership ”fighting in the war against the crazy.”

LOOKOUT reached out to Horne’s office for comment. His office said he was not immediately available for a response.

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