Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Antigovernment Figures Rally Behind Arizona Attorney General Horne

[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]

Arizona Attorney General Thomas Horne has been accused by his political opponents of being a “chameleon.” But not even they could predict the company he would one day keep.

Horne, once a Democrat, is a featured guest at tonight’s “Liberty on Tap” monthly social at a Scottsdale brewing company, where he will share the stage with far-right antigovernment “Patriot” movement luminaries including Richard Mack and Ammon Bundy, the son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.

Stephen Lemons at Phoenix New Times reports that Horne’s campaign team is aware of the presence of the other participants.

Ammon Bundy is best known as the Bundy son who was hit by a Taser during 
a skirmish outside the Bundy Ranch, an event that served to animate much of the antigovernment Patriot response that resulted in an armed standoff with federal authorities. He later served as a family spokesman on several national news broadcasts.

Mack, a former Graham County sheriff, is a longtime speaker and organizer in the antigovernment “Patriot” movement. In recent years, he has focused his efforts on organizing law enforcement officers behind a banner of Patriot beliefs through his Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association.

Mack was also a major player on the scene at the Bundy Ranch standoff, where he suggested to Fox News that the strategy of the day was to have women in the front of the protest crowd. “If they’re going to start shooting, it’s going to be women that are televised all across the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers,” Mack said.

Horne, a close ally of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio (who endorsed Horne again this year), has suffered a number of scandals associated with his office in recent years, including campaign-finance charges and allegations that he left the scene of a fender-bender after a lunchtime sexual tryst.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Arpaio Considered ‘Citizens Grand Jury’ for Obama Birth Certificate Probe, But ‘It’s a Little Tough’

[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]

Joe Arpaio, the controversial sheriff of Arizona’s Maricopa County, recently told a Tea Party gathering in California that he considered resorting to the “sovereign citizens” tactic of calling for a so-called “citizens grand jury” while he was conducting an investigation of the legitimacy of President Obama’s birth certificate.

The subject came up during an Arpaio speech on July 27 to a gathering of Tea Party conservatives in Ramona, Calif. A video taken by an audience member shows Arpaio being questioned about calling for a “sovereign citizens” tactic to be applied in a Maricopa County “fraud” case that “involved not only the perpetrator, Obama, but the senators, and congressmen, and … your secretary of state. Why don’t you form a citizens grand jury to bring indictments against these people, and when you get no response from it, then you can form a citizens trial court — ?”
The sheriff interrupted the man’s question.
ARPAIO: I heard about that. You know what I was looking at? It wasn’t for that. I was looking at it for the birth certificate. If I was gonna do a citizens grand jury, it would be because of that.

It’s a little tough. Legally, it’s a little tough. You know, I am the sheriff, but I still have some restrictions. I gotta use a little common sense.

Now, don’t think I’m chicken. I can take on the president, I think I have a little …
The questioner interrupted Arpaio to inform him that he would move from California to Maricopa County free of charge just so he could head up such a grand jury.

“Citizens grand juries” are an integral part of the “common law court” system devised as part of the often convoluted and complex system of beliefs of the sovereign citizen movement, and references to them often appear when assorted antigovernment “Patriot” movement members (who are closely aligned with the sovereign citizen movement) are involved in legal actions, including criminal cases.

Arpaio grabbed headlines in 2011 when he went “birther” –– that is, he announced that not only did he subscribe to various conspiracy theories claiming that President Obama was not born in Hawaii and thus is not an American citizen, he intended to investigate the matter of the president’s birth certificate, and he announced in 2012 his investigators had determined that it was “definitely fraudulently.”

The investigation, crowd pleasing as it may have been for his arch-conservative audience, went nowhere –– although Arpaio did recently announce that he may have determined who the person was that forged the president’s birth certificate.

Jim Gilchrist Continues Denying Ties to Shawna Forde as He Tries to Revive Minutemen

[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]

As the Minuteman Project attempts to restore its influence amid what some feel is a new crisis brewing on the border, the project’s co-founder Jim Gilchrist has been barnstorming media outlets in an effort seemingly aimed at saving a public image marred by criminality as he works to rebuild the project.

On VCY America’s “Crosstalk” show Tuesday, for example, Gilchrist felt free to tell his interviewer that hundreds of thousands of Central American children were going to form the “vanguard” of a “Trojan-horse invasion” of the United States, and even sympathized with a caller who suggested gassing the children to death at the border.

But the more difficult realities of the Minutemen came during an interview with Ed Berliner, host of Newsmax’s “MidPoint” program. Rather than serve up softball questions as one might expect from the frequently far-right media outlet, Berliner challenged Gilchrist about the original incarnation of the Minutemen, noting that the movement unraveled amid “criminal charges against some of the people involved, and that includes the former leader, Chris Simcox,” who now faces trial on three counts of child molestation.

Those “criminal charges” Berliner referenced also included the cold-blooded killing of a 9-year-old girl that landed one of Gilchrist’s onetime associates, a Washington state woman named Shawna Forde, on Arizona’s Death Row.

Gilchrist said:
GILCHRIST: Yes, there have been a couple of incidents of some very serious embarrassment, uh –– this conduct was not committed by anyone within the Minuteman Project but in rogue groups that used the Minuteman movement as a veil, essentially, to carry out sinister and criminal activities.
But Berliner was persistent, asking Gilchrist to set the record straight regarding just how closely tied he was to those crimes.
BERLINER: So the people, then, who used the Minutemen effort before, the people then who basically brought disrepute to the Minutemen, were not people that you would have given rise to, that you would have given any sort of legality to, or any sort of notice to. They weren’t part of your group, is what you’re saying.
Gilchrist deflected:
GILCHRIST: No, no, they weren’t card-carrying members of the Minuteman Project. We don’t have card-carrying members. We have anyone who agrees that we should be a nation governed by laws, not mob rule, that mob being 30 million illegal aliens, is an honorary member of the Minuteman Project. That gives me 280 million members. Not all of them agree with me, but I look at the movement itself as having 280 million members out of the 310 million population, who want our immigration laws enforced.
It is at least nominally true that Gilchrist’s operation doesn’t have “members” per se, and by that definition, at least, Shawna Forde was not a member of the Minuteman Project. However, virtually everything else Gilchrist told Berliner was false.

Shawna Forde was an associate of Gilchrist’s beginning in the spring of 2007, culminating in February of 2009, when he named Forde his “director of border operations.” Gilchrist’s Minuteman Project site avidly promoted Forde’s operations –– conducted under the name of her own group, “Minuteman American Defense” –– and he defended her from critics within the nativist anti-immigrant movement.

Their association dates back to June 2007, when Forde organized an “Illegal Immigration Summit” in Everett, Wash., featuring Gilchrist as the keynote speaker. At the time, Forde was no longer a member in good standing with the state detachment of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, operated by Simcox, Gilchrist’s former cohort. Within the month, Forde had formed MAD and cultivated her relationship with Gilchrist, first sponsoring the “summit” in Everett featuring herself and Gilchrist that June. Forde cultivated the relationship further that summer of 2007 by organizing border watches in Arizona, alongside such other nativist leaders as Glenn Spencer. She was photographed that summer with Gilchrist, admiring Spencer’s remote-controlled airplane and scanning the horizon in search of border crossers.

Forde kept in touch with Gilchrist and subsequently arranged for him to make an appearance in February 2008 at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, about a hundred-mile drive from Seattle. Gilchrist at the time was embroiled in heated lawsuits and disputes with his former board of directors over ownership of the Minuteman Project, and he no longer had any functioning presence on the borders; Forde offered to step up and take on the job. Gilchrist became so enamored of Forde that, on February 9, he directed his staff to “put Shawna in the website as our border patrol coordinator.”

But Forde’s involvement would become a grave liability in a matter of a few short months.
Shortly after midnight on May 30, 2009, Forde and a group of three men invaded the home of a small-time marijuana smuggler named Raul “Junior” Flores in rural Arivaca, Ariz., and shot its three occupants: Flores, his 9-year-old daughter, Brisenia, and his wife, Gina Gonzalez. However, Gonzalez was not fatally wounded and, after playing dead, she drove the gang from her home in a hail of gunfire that lightly wounded the chief gunman, a white supremacist serial killer from Washington state named Jason Eugene Bush.

The day after the murders, Forde posted on the Minutemen Project website, boasting of having “boots on the ground” in Arizona, and citing the deaths at the Flores home as part of a fundraising pitch, in Forde’s inimitable semi-literate style: “A American family was murdered 2 days ago including a 9 year old girl. Territory issue’s are now spilling over like fire on the US side and leaving Americans so afraid they will not even allow their names to be printed in any press releases.”

So it was with a hint of irony, in his interview with Berliner, that Gilchrist explained he would continue to rely on his former protocols when it came to making this new iteration of the Minutemen different than the previous one: “It is only by one rule that I would expect people to present themselves and participate, and that one simple rule is: Whatever you do, you stay within the rule of law. And there are no exceptions.”

Gilchrist continued to refer reverently to “the rule of law” when Berliner pressed him on the issue: “How are you going to be able to control everybody and make sure that the people representing the Minutemen and along the border are indeed all within the letter of the law, and aren’t getting in the way of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, or even the National Guard, who’s now there in Texas?”

MAD logo
“I broadcast one message,” Gilchrist replied, again after a long pause. “Like me, you are an independent, American sovereign person. You have the right, the irrevocable right, supposedly, to freely and peaceably assemble on U.S. territory and bring your grievance forward. It’s each man, woman, and child for him- and herself, on their own, under their own recognizance, their own responsibility. If they go beyond the rule of law, they can [to be] expect arrested, cited, and prosecuted, it’s as simple as that. And it’s something we should be doing to the illegal aliens that come into this country, not to innocent American citizens who simply want to present their grievance. “
The irony here is that Shawna Forde, too, regularly preached about “the rule of law,” and how the “illegal alien invasion” was a slap in its face. Indeed, she even placed the words “Rule of Law” at the center of the logo she had designed for her MAD website.