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.”