Voters ousted a California county official and handed control of its board of supervisors to a group aligned with a local militia, with the help of an out-of-state billionaire with a grudge against the local government.
Nearly 53 percent of Shasta County voters elected to recall supervisor Leonard Moty, a Republican former Redding police chief, following almost two years of threats and conspiracy theories over the board's pandemic safety measures, reported the Sacramento Bee.
“I think it’s going to be a change in our politics,” Moty told The Guardian. "I think we’re going to shift more to the alt-right side of things. I really thought my community would step up to the plate and they didn’t, and that’s very discouraging.”
Moty's ouster tips the majority of the five-member board to a movement aligned with the Cottonwood militia, with his likely replacements as either construction superintendent Dale Ball or school board member Tim Garman -- who are separated by only 33 votes, and each of them celebrated their "victory" with militia members.
"This feels very much to me like the Nazi Party in the early '30s of Germany," Moty told KQED-TV, "where, you know, they came out with their brown shirts and they intimidated people. They bullied them into silence."
Moty, his family and supporters faced threats from militia members and their allies, including militia member and mask opponent Carlos Zapata, over public health measures and what some saw as insufficient support for gun rights.
"It's not going to be peaceful much longer, okay, and this isn't a threat," Zapata told the board of supervisors during an August 2020 meeting. "I'm not a criminal, I've never been a criminal, but I'm telling you good citizens are going to turn to real concerned and revolutionary citizens real soon."
“Distrust in government has permeated the most local levels,” said terrorism expert Colin Clarke. “I’m familiar with the indicators of extremism and radicalization. I see them in places I never expected to see them. If you had told me as terrorism expert I’d be talking about school boards, I’d have said you’re crazy.”
The recall also attracted the interest of Connecticut film producer Reverge Anselmo, who donated $450,000 to the recall's political action committee, nearly two years after donating $100,000 to the successful campaign of current county supervisor Patrick Jones -- who celebrated Moty's ouster.
"I'm really proud of all the people that took part in this," Jones said. "It was a grassroots movement, mainly by women, the stay-at-home moms and grandmas and business owners, and they worked their tails off to get these signatures to certify the recall election."
The 60-year-old Anselmo spent years unsuccessfully battling Shasta County in court after officials ordered him in 2007 to stop work on the 670-acre Bear Creek Ranch near Shingletown, where he had hoped to establish a restaurant, ranch and winery.
"Funded by an out-of-state millionaire who is seeking revenge against the county, the recall effort has done nothing more than sow hate and division in our community. If the voters chose a different direction, which is probable, then they’ll get what (Reverge) Anselmo was willing to buy," Moty told the Record Searchlight. "I’m proud that I stood against anarchists, extremists, and white supremacists wanting to take over our county. As a lifelong resident of Shasta County, I’m very concerned with this change in leadership and its effect on our community."
Reverge Anselmo www.youtube.com