SACRAMENTO, Calif. — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge, elected officials from across California gathered for a conference this weekend in Rancho Murieta to protest coronavirus-related restrictions and discuss ways to reopen the state’s economy. The conference, in its second of three days, was held inside a covered horse arena at the Murieta Equestrian Center, and featured talks from U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock, a Republican representing areas of the Northern Sierra Nevada and foothills; Republican state Assemblyman Kevin Kiley; and Republican state Assemblyman James Gallagher, all of w...
A Michigan Republican school board member is accused of threatening a county clerk in another part of the state over an election dispute.
State police say they traced a menacing call last year to Houghton County clerk Jennifer Kelly back to 23-year-old Matthew Smith, a school board member and GOP activist from Genessee County, and he's been charged with maliciously using a telephone, reported WJRT-TV.
"I had to seek counseling," Kelly told the TV station. "I apparently now have some sort of PTSD. Little things will set me off at home."
The call came March 6, 2020, at 1 a.m., when Smith -- who was elected as a Donald Trump delegate to the Republican National Convention -- allegedly told the county clerk that he worked for a local TV station and wanted to film her home, and when Kelly declined he said she'd never be re-elected because her house and office were a mess.
Then he allegedly threatened to poison her dogs and throw them in a trash bin.
"If he is that crooked, to be calling an elected official that he does not know and saying the things that he did to me, I don't believe the man deserves the honor to be an elected official, that's my personal opinion," Kelly said, adding that she thinks the misdemeanor charge against Smith was too lenient.
Smith faces up to six months in jail if convicted.
The Davison School Board member has previously denied the allegation, saying someone spoofed his phone number, but a second man accused of listening in on the call told police Smith made the threats.
That man, 19-year-old self-described "Trump Republican" Justin Kasieta, was Kelly's opponent in the last election, and the state attorney general's office is still investigating his case.
Kasieta serves as a legislative aide to state Rep. Greg Markkanen (R-Hancock), and a third man who allegedly listened in on the call, Jake Putala, serves as an aide to state Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan), who led an investigation into Michigan's election that found no evidence of widespread fraud.
Smith narrowly lost an election bid for the Genessee County commission and was appointed as deputy county clerk.
"I want a judge to tell these three punks to leave me alone, don't ever contact me again, keep my name out of anything," Kelly said.
'Put them in shackles!' Gun-toting Trump supporters rage at Michigan GOP for shooting down election lies
A Republican-led probe in Michigan this week debunked former President Donald Trump's numerous lies about the 2020 presidential election and found no evidence of "an organized, wide-scale effort to commit fraudulent activity was perpetrated in order to subvert the will of Michigan voters."
This news was not welcome by many of the former president's supporters in Michigan, however, and the Washington Post reports that many armed Trump supporters have been protesting outside the state Capitol building demanding that the state conduct an Arizona-style "audit" of its election results.
"They are lying," attorney Matthew DePerno, an attorney who was cited in the Michigan State Senate report for making "ludicrous" claims, said recently to cheering supporters during a pro-"audit" rally. "These people have committed crimes!"
An audience member then yelled out, "Put them in shackles!" as the crowd roared in approval, according to the Post.
The Post notes that "the drumbeat for audits has been accompanied by increasingly violent and vitriolic threats against state and local officials" and that "the escalating rhetoric has left legislators from both parties lamenting what happened to the state that was home to moderate political consensus builders such as President Gerald Ford, governor George Romney and the late representative John Dingell."
According to the Phoenix New Times, documents reveal that the Arizona Senate GOP leader Karen Fann, along with a right-wing dark money group, made a "contribution" of $20,000 to the Arizona Rangers to help guard the controversial "audit" of ballots in Maricopa County.
"Senate President Karen Fann had ignored repeated questions in recent weeks about who authorized the Rangers' presence in and around Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the state fairgrounds, where the audit is being conducted. The Rangers, a state-recognized quasi-law enforcement group, has provided more than a dozen uniformed officers to work the audit," reported Ray Stern. Meanwhile, "In an article published on April 29, the Rangers state commander, Michael Droll, told Phoenix New Times that the question of who authorized the group was 'intelligence' and that nobody would answer it."
"Last week, following a request for public records under state law, the state senate released seven pages of agreements for services ... to New Times, including one between the senate and Arizona Rangers that had been signed by Fann and Droll," said the report. "It states that the senate will pay $20,000 for the Rangers' services, with the word 'compensation' crossed out and above that, the word 'contribution' written in hand."
Also involved in the agreement is Guardian Defense Fund, a GOP money group created "to help U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., state Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Oro Valley, and former state Rep. Anthony Kern, R-Glendale, address assertions about their activities." All of these lawmakers were either at the Capitol riot or at the rally that preceded it.
The $20,000 payment has not yet been made.
The Arizona "audit," which is nearly finished, has turned into an embarrassment for the state GOP, with even prominent Trump supporters condemning it as a "clown show." The investigators from the pro-Trump Florida security firm "Cyber Ninjas" has pursued a number of conspiracy theories, including searching for bamboo fibers in ballots to prove they were Asian forgeries.
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