Former Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers receives Presidential honor

President Biden (right) awards former Arizona house speaker Rusty Bowers the "Presidential...
President Biden (right) awards former Arizona house speaker Rusty Bowers the "Presidential Citizens Medal", the nation's second highest civilian award.(AZFamily)
Published: Jan. 6, 2023 at 11:26 AM MST|Updated: Jan. 6, 2023 at 2:32 PM MST
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WASHINGTON (3TV/CBS 5/AP) — President Joe Biden on Friday presented the nation’s second-highest civilian award to 12 individuals, including former Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, involved in defending the Capitol during the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, and safeguarding the will of American voters in the 2020 presidential election.

The White House announced on Thursday that Biden would present the Presidential Citizens Medal during an East Room ceremony marking the second anniversary of the assault on the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump, whose siege interrupted the congressional certification of Biden’s victory. Former Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers was among the recipients.

Last year, Bowers was awarded the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage award for his refusal to consider overturning the election. That refusal prompted the state party to censure him, saying he had “lost the confidence of a majority of Republican party leaders.” He lost his bid for a state Senate seat in August, automatically giving the spot to former state Sen. David Farnsworth because no Democrat ran in the heavily Republican district.

Bowers testified to the Jan. 6 committee that he insisted on seeing Trump’s evidence of voter fraud, which he said Trump’s team never produced beyond vague allegations. He recalled Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani telling him, “We’ve got lots of theories, we just don’t have the evidence.” Bowers also said under oath that because of his faith, including a belief the U.S. Constitution is divinely inspired, what the president was asking him to do was “foreign to my very being.”

Among the others honored were seven members of law enforcement, including a posthumous award to Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died after the attack, and an award to Officer Eugene Goodman, who was credited with directing rioters away from the Senate floor while lawmakers were evacuating the building.

Also honored were two other Capitol Police officers, Harry Dunn and Caroline Edwards; Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell; Metropolitan Police Department Officer Daniel Hodges and a former officer, Michael Fanone.

Biden also recognized Michigan’s secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson; and Ruby Freeman and her daughter Shaye Moss, election workers in Fulton County, Georgia, who were subjected to threats and harassment after ensuring votes in the county were properly tabulated.

An award also went to Al Schmidt, a former Philadelphia election official who faced public pressure from Trump to stop counting valid ballots. Schmidt, a Republican, will be nominated for the top election administration post in Pennsylvania, secretary of state, by Pennsylvania Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro, a Democrat.

The Presidential Citizens Medal, created by President Richard Nixon in 1969, is the country’s second-highest civilian honor after the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It is awarded to those who “performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens.”