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Far-Right California Supervisor, MyPillow Fan Faces Recall

Shasta County, California, supervisor Kevin Crye was served recall papers by a community group on Tuesday after he and two other far-right supervisors voted to terminate the county’s contract with Dominion Voting Systems last month, and Crye subsequently traveled at Shasta County’s expense to meet MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell for his view on the conduct of future elections in Shasta County.

The conflict in the remote Northern California county shows how 2020 election conspiracy theories, including those about Dominion Voting machines, continue to propel events around the country.

The recall papers were delivered to Crye in person at a supervisors’ meeting by a community group, Shasta Citizens for Stable Government (SCSG).

Kevin Crye
Kevin Crye, March 17, 2022. (Photo via Mike Chapman/Record Searchlight/USA Today Network)

“Mr. Crye campaigned on being fiscally responsible,” SCSG’s media spokesperson, Jeff Gorder, told Hatewatch in a telephone conversation.

“He claimed that he would ensure the county didn’t get sued, and that he would stay within the rule of law. He claimed he would be a healer and a uniter,” Gorder said.

“In our view, he hasn’t done any of those things.”

Hatewatch emailed Crye for comment, but there was no immediate response.

Dominion dumped

Crye was elected last November, when he joined Patrick Jones and Chris Kelstrom to form a far-right majority on the Shasta County Board of Supervisors (SCBOS).

Last month, the trio outvoted two other commissioners to terminate the county’s contract with Dominion Voting Systems, leaving the county with no settled process for voting, and forcing election officials to contemplate counting votes by hand.

Dominion has been the focus of false conspiracy theories about Donald Trump’s 2020 election results, with high-profile Trump supporters and right-wing media commentators alleging the company colluded to steal the election from Trump. After conservative media outlets aired these claims widely in the aftermath of the 2020 vote, Dominion launched several lawsuits and last week was awarded a $787 million settlement from Fox News.

At a February SCBOS meeting, chairman Patrick Jones appeared to echo those conspiracy theories in arguing that the contract should be ended. “For people to say we have free and fair elections without knowing all the things that have been going on and the things that we know, it’s just not true,” Jones told the meeting.

Critics of the move – from supervisors on the board’s minority, to the California secretary of state’s office – pointed out that hand-counting would cost substantially more and potentially violate federal and state electoral law.

Shasta County registrar of voters Cathy Darling Allen delivered a report last week estimating that the costs of elections in the county would at least triple. A representative of Disability Rights California told county supervisors his organization was considering legal action if the board can’t provide accessible ballots to voters with disabilities, the Shasta Scout reported.

Crye visits the MyPillow guy

Mike Lindell
Mike Lindell speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, on Feb. 28, 2019. (Photo via Ron Sachs/MediaPunch Inc/Alamy Live News)

In the weeks before the March 29 vote to dump Dominion, Kevin Crye took a county-funded trip to Minnesota to meet with MyPillow CEO, Trump supporter and hardened 2020 election conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell, who is currently being sued by Dominion. Crye told local television reporters that he had spent “four or five hours” with Lindell, during which time they talked about “the process, from a legislative standpoint, about the voting process, what other states are doing.”

He also said that he had secured an agreement with Lindell to provide financial support for hand-counting votes in Shasta County, without offering details. Further doubt was cast on that eventuality this week when Lindell was ordered to pay a $5 million cash reward to a man who had accepted the MyPillow CEO’s challenge to debunk one of his false claims about the election.

Lindell has continued to spread baseless conspiracy theories about Dominion voting machines, despite the fact that Dominion is pursuing a $1.3 billion defamation suit against him.

Jeff Gorder, the SCSG spokesman, said that their campaign had arisen directly from the fact that Crye “voted to terminate the contract we had with Dominion after taking the advice of election-deniers like Mike Lindell.”

Recall supporters will need to collect 4,000 signatures to put the recall to a vote in November.

Big money meets the radical right

Crye was just one of the far-right candidates who ran last November with the support of the county’s Liberty Committee political action committee (LCPAC). The others included Crye’s fellow supervisor Chris Kelstrom, with other candidates for sheriff, voting registrar and schools superintendent being defeated.

LCPAC is headed by Mark Kent, who has been a prominent far-right activist in Northern California since he helped lead a local Tea Party group in the early 2010s. In 2022, Kent led the Shasta General Purpose Committee in a successful campaign to recall former SCBOS supervisor Leonard Moty.

The move against Moty came after far-right activists targeted the Republican over the county’s implementation of state-ordered coronavirus measures during the pandemic.

The backers of that effort included State of Jefferson Formation’s Terry Rapoza, whose organization promoted the candidacy of supervisor Patrick Jones on social media; Cottonwood Militia leader Paul “Woody” Clendenen; and member Carlos Zapata, who was convicted of disturbing the peace and sentenced to 12 months of probation in 2021 over an altercation with a local progressive activist.

Though Kent led these efforts, they were largely bankrolled by Reverge Anselmo, a Connecticut billionaire who spent nearly $1 million supporting the recall and far-right primary and general election candidates in a county of just 182,000 residents.

Anselmo fought and lost a lengthy legal battle with Shasta County in the early 2010s over zoning and planning issues at his Shasta County vineyard. He paid out $1.4 million in a legal settlement and soon sold the vineyard and moved to Connecticut.

In March 2022, Anselmo told the Los Angeles Times that the then-members of the SCBOS were “evil, and they deserve what is coming to them.”

Only two members of that board remain in office.

Jeff Gorder said that as a result of the far-right surge in Shasta County following the pandemic and the 2020 election, “We’re being portrayed as a petri dish for far-right extremism, and we’re worried about the impact of that on our reputation among younger people or businesses who might want to move here.”

Asked if the recall effort was a sign that the far-right wave had crested in the county, Gorder said, “It might be a little too early to tell.”

Photo illustration by SPLC

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