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Arizona Mayor Backed by Oath Keepers Alleges Rigged Vote

By Ryan Lenz on September 1, 2011 - 1:30 pm, Posted in Extremist Propaganda, Patriot Groups

A western Arizona mayor, who recently called in the antigovernment “Patriot” group Oath Keepers to rally support for what he claimed was a town under martial law, has not gone quietly into the night after losing a recall election earlier this week. Instead, Quartzsite Mayor Ed Foster has doubled down with new claims that the election was rigged.

Speaking with WorldNet Daily, the far-right website that has led the charge on the conspiracy theory that President Obama is not a U.S. citizen, Foster said the Town Council almost certainly had a hand in fixing the election. “There’s no doubt about it,” Foster said. “The early voting was obscenely different. … Whether people voted early or late should not have affected the weight of the vote.”

The recall election, held on Tuesday, came as a footnote to a complicated tale of alleged small-town corruption that pitted Foster against the Town Council and Quartzsite Police Chief Jeff Gilbert. Foster claimed the town had been writing checks to anonymous people to the tune of $250 million every year for the last several years – a claim that was never verified. Then, the dispute became national news in June when a video posted online showed a local blogger, Jennifer Jade Jones, being arrested at a Town Council meeting. The video was taken as proof by many antigovernment extremists that the “martial law” they had long predicted would be imposed on Americans had finally arrived, at least in Quartzsite. For his part, Chief Gilbert dismissed the claims of martial law as absurd.

The Oath Keepers, a group built around conspiracy theories about government evil, responded quickly, arriving last weekend to hold a “Liberty Fest” in an empty RV park in Quartzsite in support of Mayor Foster and his backers. The group’s website said that Quartzsite had become “a vital pivot point on which small-town America shall awaken to the encroachment of corruption and violation of rights from Federal levels downward into our local communities and our daily lives.”

The “muster” was expected to draw thousands, but ultimately only 150 people marched on Town Hall in the 115-degree heat. Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes awarded Foster, an avuncular former Wrigley chewing gum company engineer, with a certificate thanking him for protecting liberty in their tiny Western outpost. “If every community across the country simply did what’s being done right here – right here, right now – we would restore our republic,” he said.

But when the recall election came, the Oath Keeper claims and muster didn’t seem to matter.

Foster lost to former town councilman and Quartzsite Fire Department Capt. Jose Lizarraga. The La Paz County Recorder’s Office on Thursday had counted 289 votes, or 53% of the vote, for Lizarraga, compared to Foster’s 230. Jones, the local gadfly who set off the ruckus and later described the recall outcome as a “nauseating turn of events,” ran as a write-in candidate and garnered just 23 votes.

Lizarraga said he was hopeful the town could move past this troubling chapter. “Mr. Foster and Miss Jones honestly do believe in what they say and what they do,” he said. “I just think there are better ways about going about fixing issues rather than possibly making what I believe might be a mockery out of our town.”

  • RLR

    It is true that the Oathkeepers and other groups of the patriot ilk have taken an interest in the situation, but the story is more complicated than reported here. I think the number is more like $250,000, not $250 million. In this case, the town is not reporting the names of the recipients of individual checks in its public reporting, there are more checks going out than town employees, and the town denied an FOIA request from Mr. Foster. The AZ Ombudman’s office sided with Mr. Foster, but has no power to enforce its position.

    There could be legitimate reasons for the extra checks and the vote count, and Mr. Foster does not help himself any with his tendency to exaggerate. However, the incident triggering the exaggerated “martial law” accusation is under investigation by the state AG, who has issued a preliminary statement that the meeting in which the town council met to discuss a state of emergency was on its face a violation of open-meeting laws. The final decision is pending, and each side claims it will be vindicated when all the evidence is reviewed.

    There is a separate investigation by the AZ Department of Public Safety into misconduct by the police department, who have been described elsewhere as the thugs of the town council. There is also a federal discrimination case in which 8 members of the 12-member police department allege they were improperly dismissed for raising questions about misconduct by the chief. Again, each side claims that it will be vindicated when all information comes to light. The police chief was previously cleared of charges in an earlier investigation of charges raised by Mr. Foster.

  • Jim

    On March 3, 1995, John Trochman of the Militia of Montana was arrested outside the Mussellshell County Courthouse in Montana and the M.O.M. phonetree was activated… out of fear… that there was going to be a fed crackdown on militias. Tim Hoecher, one of the three leaders of the Unorganized Militia of Stevens County, received the M.O.M. phone alert and let others know…so that they could prepare…one of Tim Hoecher’s best friends… these days… is OathKeeper recruiter and defeated candidate for Stevens County Sheriff last fall…Russell Bolton. Bolton did receive more than 3,000 votes in our very rural county…

    My concern is that it appears that OathKeepers have an effective phone/e-mail muster network and in our area…it is probably just an updated M.O.M. support group network… from 1995..OathKeepers sounds like a new name for Posse Comitatus and Tim Hoecher is a very proud Christian Identity adherent, a Young Republican of Stevens County,a member of the Stevens County Christian Coalition, and a member of the Stevens County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team..

    Jim
    Colville

  • skinnyminny

    R. Abbey,
    my understanding is that the chief reported the teas and oaths to feds. Now, that is something most media outlets didn’t report. Based on this, I consider him (chief) to be a hero.

  • Leslie

    RR Abbey

    It appears that the media loves nothing better than to report on the corruption of public officials. I find it hard to believe that if this story had merit that an investigative reporter would not be on the city’s case. You may be aware of the public outcry over the public servants in Bell, CA voting themselves 6 figure pensions that was on the front page of the L.A. Times for weeks on end. Every reporter on the paper had a story about it from the political section to the editorial pages.

    Furthermore, city, state, and country budgets are a matter of public record. Where are the cancelled checks for 250 million dollars?

  • Asatruar in NC

    I’m sorry, Mr/Ms. Abbey, but I have trouble believing that given that the Oath Breakers are involved.

  • R.Abbey

    I live in Quartzsite Az and I have witnessed the events of the past year. I realize the oathekeepers are on the opposite side of the isle from you, but our elections are nonpartisan. The Quartzsite reform movement is a small group of citizens trying to expose very real corruption at town hall. This is not a national movement and it has nothing to do with left or right. 10 out of 13 police officers came forward with the allegations of felonious activities by the chief of police. those 10 officers were fired for blowing the whistle on the boss. Mayor Foster has been denied access to the towns financial records, even after the ombuds requested them. This town government is corrupt, and the people deserve a little transparency. The media didn’t care about whats going in our little town and the Libertarian talk show host Alex Jones jumped on the story and Mayor Foster was anxious to talk to anyone who’d listen. The tragedy is that only right wing extremists would listen or even care. Watch the video on youtube. See for yourself, Jennifer Jones was arrested and her arm was broken in what is a clear violation of her right to freedom of speech and a violation of the Mayor’s rules of order. But chief Gilbert is a thug who makes up his own laws as he will. And the council just goes right along. Support for mayor Foster is high and the numbers at the polls do not reflect the early ballots at all. Don’t let the story of Quartzsite fall between the cracks of partisanship.

  • skinnyminny

    LOL! ROTFLMAO, and very much loudly! This guy Foster sounds like the ol’ Bob Dornan who accused one of the Sanchez sisters of the same thing.

    LOL! This guy, Foster, is so vain! This is what happens when people vote in people that always want to ‘fight.’ These people will do whatever it takes to retain power. But, the other side of this, is their sense of self that ‘everyone loves them – meaning they think they are loved by everyone – sounds like characters from the movie, “The Talented Mr. Ripley.”

  • Gregory

    “Foster claimed the town had been writing checks to anonymous people to the tune of $250 million every year for the last several years – a claim that was never verified.”

    Really? The property taxes in Quartzsite must be brutal. /snark