Iraq was the ghost in the room Wednesday as Condoleezza Rice returned to the State Department to reflect on her time as the top US diplomat saying history would be the judge. Rice, who was the national security advisor and secretary of state under president…
A prominent Colorado Republican activist on Tuesday urged fellow conservatives to reject political violence and extremism, even as he claimed that the country is under threat from communist tyranny and on a path towards “civil war.”
John Tiegen, a Marine veteran from Colorado Springs and founder of the United American Defense Force, made the comments on a “Giving Tuesday” livestream hosted by FEC United, the fringe activist group with which the UADF is affiliated.
Speaking to an audience of fellow conservatives, Tiegen acknowledged the support for extremist violence that exists among some on the right, and warned of the dangers of such views.
“We need to get rid of the extremist ideology, we really do,” Tiegen said. “For UADF, a lot of people want to go to civil war, they want to have conflict. You don’t want it.”
But Tiegen, who urged conservatives to set aside their “minor differences” and unite to oppose government overreach in schools and the economy, also predicted that violence will erupt if conservatives aren’t victorious.
“I see a war coming, if we don’t stand together,” Tiegen said. “And trust me, you don’t want to see it. A lot of veterans — I’ve seen it — there are some veterans that pray for it here in the U.S., which is stupid.”
The UADF, founded by Tiegen in the wake of nationwide 2020 protests over police violence, bills itself as a “humanitarian aid organization” with a “parallel mission” of armed defense. Tiegen regularly posted images of group members training and posing with firearms before his social media accounts were eventually suspended late last year.
Tiegen and the UADF organized the October 2020 “Patriot Muster” rally in downtown Denver, which turned deadly when a man was fatally shot by a security guard employed by a local news station.
FEC United was founded by far-right conspiracy theorist Joe Oltmann, a former digital marketing executive from Douglas County who has been instrumental in pushing debunked claims relating to Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems and the integrity of the 2020 election. Oltmann is a defendant in a defamation lawsuit filed by a former Dominion employee.
Kristi Burton Brown, currently the chair of the Colorado Republican Party, served as FEC United’s president as recently as November 2020, according to testimony from Oltmann. Burton Brown was elected state GOP chair in March 2021.
The group has spread a wide variety of false and misleading information relating to the election, the COVID-19 pandemic, “critical race theory” in schools and more.
On Tuesday’s livestream, Tiegen and other right-wing activists celebrated the victories won last month by Republican candidates in local school board elections in Colorado and beyond, and delivered stark warnings about the threat posed by communism, which FEC United’s Stephanie Wheeler said was backed in the U.S. by “foreign entities” with “deep pockets.”
Tiegen urged conservatives who oppose measures like pandemic-related public health restrictions to “be a force to be reckoned with.”
“We are being forced into communism, forced into a tyrannical dictatorship,” he said. “It’s just going to get worse. … There has to be a line, there has to be a limit. I’ve already reached it. I’m not going no more.”
“This is a last stand that we’re kind of doing,” Tiegen added. “We have to — we took a lot back here in Colorado on the education side, so that’s a good start. But … you have to stand together if you truly want to fight back.”
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On Thursday, Vox reported that the Supreme Court is about to take up Carson v. Makin, a case that could force taxpayers in the state of Maine to pay to send children to religious schools.
"Typically, the Court’s 'religious liberty' docket involves laws and policies that prohibit religious parties from acting in a way they believe is consistent with their faith," wrote Ian Millhiser. "But Carson is not like these cases. It claims the state of Maine must spend existing tax revenue from its secular residents to pay the private school tuition of some religious students." Furthermore, noted Millhiser, "Notably, the state could also wind up having to pay for hate speech in the process. According to Maine’s brief, both of the plaintiff families in Carson want the state to pay for tuition at schools that discriminate against LGBTQ students and teachers" — including a school that makes teachers sign an agreement that "God recognize[s] homosexuals and other deviants as perverted."
According to Millhiser, the plaintiffs in the case are using an absurd comparison as the basis for their argument.
"'In the 19th century, Maine’s public schools expelled students for adhering to their faith,' they claim, citing one example of a Catholic student expelled for not completing lessons off a Protestant bible. Now, according to the brief, Maine is committing a similarly repugnant sin against religious people by refusing to pay state residents’ tuition at private religious schools," wrote Millhiser. "Under this reasoning, there is no relevant difference between denying a public education to a Catholic student and refusing to pay for private religious education."
The court, which now has a 6-3 conservative majority, has made recent decisions expanding requirements for various states to fund religious schools, most notably in Montana in 2020. This comes as the court is also considering a closely-watched abortion case in Mississippi that could overturn Roe v. Wade.
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IN OTHER NEWS: Trump whines he doesn’t get credit for crowd size on Jan 6
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Members of the Ohio Republican Party are suing the leader of their party and accusing him of being responsible for $3 million in “missing funds.”
The lawsuit was filed in Franklin County Common Pleas Court against ORP Chairman Robert Paduchik and party treasurer Dave Johnson. Five individuals identified as donors and members of the ORP are listed as the parties leading the lawsuit: Denise Verdi, Mark Bainbridge, Laura Rosenberger, JoAnn Campbell and Joe Miller.
They were all also part of different ORP committees on topics such as fiscal review, audits, permanent rules and revisions, endorsement policy and county chairs.
Plaintiffs said they became aware of “potential financial improprieties, potential inaccurate financial reporting, the lack of an official audit … over more than a decade and unauthorized support of unendorsed candidates,” according to court documents.
“The millions of Republicans across our state deserve accountability and we are demanding it on their behalf,” said Rosenberger in a statement. “The Ohio Republican Party needs to be saved from within.”
The case centers around “significant funds” that the ORP members say went mission without “adequate explanation,” including $1.7 million in 2017, $437,000 in 2019, $271,000 in 2021 and $638,000 that the group claims was in an account established in 2017 and 2018 but was “written off” in 2021.
When the individuals voiced their concerns in October 2021, they say Paduchik removed them from their committee positions, in violation of ORP bylaws.
“Per the bylaws, Paduchik should not have reorganized the membership in (State Central Committee) or other committees until after the 2022 primary election and after the new (committee) members elected in that primary are installed,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit accuses Johnson of breaching his duty as treasurer by “maintaining un-auditable books,” “failing to require annual audits and compliance with the bylaws,” and “failing to run the operations of the finance and treasury in compliance with the bylaws, in bad faith,” among other accusations related to signing off on financial statements and checks.
The OPR members say a commissioned compliance report in 2017 found that the ORP books have not been audited for “at least 12 years,” and requests made by the plaintiffs in the case to examine the books were denied by Johnson.
Citing Ohio Revised Code, the lawsuit said Paduchik had a “duty to perform the duties of a director ‘in good faith, in a manner the director reasonably believes to be in or not opposed to the best interests of the corporation, and with the care that an ordinarily prudent person in a like position would use under similar circumstances.'”
In a letter to fellow Republicans obtained by Cleveland.com, Paduchik called the accusations “crazy,” singling out Bainbridge, who he said was attempting to “damage” the state central committee.
Ohio Capital Journal is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Ohio Capital Journal maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor David DeWitt for questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Ohio Capital Journal on Facebook and Twitter.