PHOENIX — Former Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers and 11 others received the Presidential Citizens Medal from Joe Biden on Friday, the two-year anniversary of the Capitol riots.
The medal is the second-highest civilian honor in the U.S. after the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Bowers was honored after he resisted pressure from Donald Trump to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and testified in front of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.
Bowers testified that Trump’s team did not have evidence of fraud in the election, saying he did not want to win by cheating.
He was later censured by the Arizona Republican Party in July and lost his primary for State Senate.
“Rusty put his obligation to the Constitution of this country ahead of everything when he refused intense political pressure to decertify the 2020 election results,” Biden said. “His courage is probably the reason why he lost his primary last year. Rusty, you’re an example, a demonstration to every young man and woman thinking of entering politics about what integrity is all about. I’m not exaggerating. Thank you for your integrity and your honor.”
Bowers received the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in May for refusing to back fraud claims.
Among Friday’s other honorees were Capitol police officers and state and election officials, including a posthumous award to Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died after the attack. Officer Eugene Goodman, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and former Philadelphia election official Al Schmidt also received medals.
“We honor a remarkable group of Americans who embodied the best before, during and after January 6, 2021,” Biden said. “What these people and the people representing those who couldn’t be here because they gave their lives for this did is incredibly consequential. That’s not political, that’s a historical fact.”
Senator Kyrsten Sinema and Rep. Greg Stanton of Arizona weighed in with reactions to Bowers’ award.
Congratulations to Rusty Bowers for receiving the Presidential Citizens Medal - our nation's second highest civilian honor. A true statesman, independent, and principled leader, Speaker Bowers' courage will be remembered fondly throughout Arizona and America. Well deserved! https://t.co/aJ4rUFFshq
— Kyrsten Sinema (@SenatorSinema) January 6, 2023
On and after January 6, we saw real acts of courage. Men and women who chose country over party.
Rusty Bowers withstood immense pressure to overturn the 2020 election, including from the former President himself—and still refused to violate his oath to the U.S. Constitution. https://t.co/4huEXiDa4j
— Rep. Greg Stanton (@RepGregStanton) January 6, 2023