Arizona Dem Praised Radical Immigration Group That Harassed Sinema

Kirsten Engel's support for leftist groups could alienate voters

Kirsten Engel (Campaign Website)
August 9, 2022

An Arizona Democrat hoping to flip a Republican-held House seat promoted the radical immigration group whose members chased Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.) into a bathroom, among other left-wing activists.

Kirsten Engel, a law professor at the University of Arizona, raved about her meeting with Living United for Change in Arizona, praising the pro-immigration group’s "efforts to help register voters." Activists with the pro-immigration group stalked and filmed Sinema in a bathroom last year in protest over her opposition to a $3.5 trillion spending bill. The group has also called for called for the Phoenix city council to defund the city’s police department.

This was only the latest instance where Engel boosted radical progressive groups. As a state senator in 2020, Engel urged Democrats to "consider donating to, getting involved with, and learning from" several left-wing organizations to advance the Black Lives Matter cause, including the Minnesota Freedom Fund and Showing Up For Racial Justice.

The Freedom Fund has come under scrutiny for posting bail for violent criminals, including a domestic abuser later charged with murder. Showing Up For Racial Justice, a coalition of white civil rights activists, publishes a "defund the police toolkit" and supports other drastic reforms to the criminal justice system. Engel said in support of the groups that it was up to "white Americans" to "commit ourselves to unlearning the racism all around us so we can dismantle it in our institutions."

Engel’s support for the anti-police groups could complicate Democrats’ efforts to flip Arizona’s Sixth Congressional District, a seat that is crucial to maintaining majority control of the House. Engel, who left the state senate last year, will face Republican nominee Juan Ciscomani in November’s general election. Rep. David Schweikert (R.), who currently represents the sixth district, is running in Arizona’s first district after the state’s congressional maps were redrawn.

Engel, who touts her criminal justice reform efforts on the campaign trail, endorsed the Minnesota Freedom Fund and Showing Up For Racial Justice in a June 2020 call-to-action decrying "state-sponsored violence" in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death.

"The broader public is finally becoming aware of the racist violence at the hands of law enforcement that has been so devastating to our brothers and sisters in the Black community," wrote Engel.

The Minnesota Freedom Fund raised tens of millions of dollars in donations thanks to the help of Democrats like Engel and Vice President Kamala Harris. Harris called on her followers to "chip in now" to contribute to the fund in order to pay for bail for protesters arrested at anti-police protests. Christina Bohannan, the Democratic nominee for a House seat in Iowa, also solicited contributions for the Freedom Fund, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

The Freedom Fund paid the bail for relatively few protesters, and instead used most of its money to free inmates arrested on other charges. The fund helped free a domestic abuser, George Howard, who was later arrested on murder charges in a road rage incident. Another bail recipient, Timothy Wayne Columbus, was freed while in jail on charges of sexually molesting an 8-year-old girl.

Engel’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.