Jan. 6 infamy will stick to local officials

York Dispatch editorial board

The bipartisan House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol has issued its final report and it includes a few prominent York County-area lawmakers.

Rep. Scott Perry, R-Carroll Township, and state Sen. Doug Mastriano, Franklin County, are among the players highlighted in the comprehensive narrative, which will stand as the definitive account of one of the darkest days in America’s political history. State Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, was also mentioned, albeit, in passing.

The namechecks are far from surprising. Perry and Mastriano were elbow-deep in efforts to reverse the results of the 2020 presidential election in favor of losing candidate Donald Trump and much of their actions have already been documented.

Congressman Scott Perry (PA-10th District) voting alongside others at Monaghan Presbyterian Church in Dillsburg on Nov. 8, 2022.

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Perry, chair of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, brought Department of Justice functionary Jeffrey Clark to Trump’s attention with the goal of elevating him to head of the department, where he would help subvert the election results.

Mastriano, with the enthusiastic backing of Grove and other Republican officials, led efforts to throw out the state’s popular vote (from the presidential election only; not for races that he and other GOP lawmakers won — a discrepancy that has never been explained). They hoped to simply install their own electors — a democracy-subverting ploy that a right-thinking electorate should have punished at its earliest opportunity.

Unfortunately, that opportunity came and went last November with nary a political penalty. Perry defeated his Democratic opponent by eight percentage points, Grove faced no opposition and Mastriano did not have to defend his state Senate seat. Voters statewide wisely rejected Mastriano’s gubernatorial bid, but that does nothing to diminish his platform as part of the majority party in the state Senate.

Perry has been referred to the U.S. House Ethics Committee for his refusal to cooperate with the Jan. 6 committee’s investigation, including ignoring a subpoena to testify, but that body will, like the rest the house, come under Republican control in the new Congress. And the GOP has long since abdicated any pretense of policing its own.

So, the ramifications for local lawmakers who worked so hard to undermine the will of their own constituents in the weeks and months following the 2020 elections appear to be nonexistent — at least politically. And at least for now.

But history has a way of catching up with political actors; of holding them to account in a way that complacent political talk-show hosts or gerrymandered electorates don’t.

The final account of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol — along with all that led up to it and all that followed — has yet to be written. The newly completed House committee report is a solid first draft, but it will take time yet to put the disgraceful actions of former President Trump and all those who enabled him into the proper context.

With Trump himself still on the political stage, attempting to distort the Jan. 6 narrative as he seeks to return to the White House, this chapter in American politics has yet to conclude.

But this much is clear: when the final chapters are written, the judgment of history upon Perry, Mastriano, Grove and their ilk will be more consequential and longer-lasting than the judgment of their party or supporters.