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A far-right militia leader claims to be functioning as a spokesperson of sorts for one of the Republican state senators from Oregon who fled the state to circumvent a vote on climate change legislation. That elected official denies it, however.
Eleven Republican state senators last week abandoned their jobs so that the Democratic majority would not have the quorum necessary to vote on cap-and-trade legislation that will greatly reduce Oregon’s carbon emissions over the next three decades.
Their disappearing act quickly attracted support from militant groups including the Three Percenters and Oath Keepers. One homegrown militia also offered shelter and protection.
Central Oregon Constitutional Guard founder B.J. Soper released a statement of support for the 11 on Facebook.
https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/senate/Pages/senatorsRepublicans.aspxhttps://www.oregon.gov/gov/Pages/contact.aspxPosted by Bj Soper on Thursday, June 20, 2019
“We will not only stand with our senators, we will stand in front of them as well,” he says. “Your brown shirts will have to come through us in order to get to them, so choose your next step wisely.”
By “brown shirts” he is apparently referring to police officers and likening them to Nazis. The Dot found several instances of Soper trashing law enforcement on his Facebook page.
Yet Soper’s offer may have been accepted by one of the 11, Sen. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer).
On June 22, Soper, who did not respond the Daily Dot’s interview request, posted on Facebook that he is serving as Thatcher’s mouthpiece with her consent, and included the first of two dispatches that he claims she sent him and some others.
“She’s agreed to let some of us help to keep contact with the people, maintain a proper narrative of why these senators are doing what they are doing,” he wrote. “She has sent me what amounts to a daily diary entry for lack of a better term to share with those that support the effort.”
Via Messenger, the Dot asked Thatcher if she wrote the posts; she did not respond.
The lengthy screed attributed to Thatcher says that the walkout isn’t just about the forcing the majority to bend to the minority’s will on this one piece of legislation; it’s about forcing them to give in to all the minority’s demands.
“If we stay out of Salem, other bills will die as well. The California style ‘clean diesel’ bill (won’t be able to register and operate any diesels built prior to 2007), the vote manipulation bill for the hidden sales tax, the driver licenses for illegals bill and the bills they had previously agreed to kill: the gun control bill and the forced vaccination bill,” it says.
The post, which has shared more than 1,700 times, concludes with a complaint that one of the neighboring governors has said that vagrant Republican senators aren’t welcome in the state: “I believe he would back that up by using his own law enforcement to help Gov. Brown get her way on the draconian agenda being forced down our throats in Oregon. That’s all for now.”
The next day, Soper posted Thatcher’s supposed “Day 3” message, a shorter screed regurgitating some of the same.
The Day 2 letter from the edge of the hotel pool made its way to the conspiracy subreddit, where there was no shortage of false accusations of the media of not covering the story, and irritated clapbacks by people who actually read the news. “It’s gotten a ton of coverage,” one wrote. “Y’all intentionally ignore MSM, and then pretend MSM isn’t covering shit that is all over MSM.”
Thatcher, possibly having realized that her hotel hideout has free Wi-Fi, posted a “Day 3 (actually 4, just realized)” update on her own Facebook page in which she denied coordinating with militias.
“I just want to remind people that this is a non-violent protest,” she wrote. “Any talk of Senate Republicans coordinating with militia groups is just fake news to distract people from the truth.”
On Monday, she wrote in the “Day 5” dispatch that she’d overheard two men discussing the walkout in a store near her safe house. She didn’t particularly care for their take on the sitch.
“This walkout isn’t just Republicans pouting about not getting their way. Believe me. We haven’t had our way in a LONG time: Oregon has been under one party rule for decades,” she wrote.
The effort yielded the desired results this week. Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney said that Democrats don’t have the votes necessary to pass the climate change bill that sent them fleeing for the state line.
Yet the 11 Republicans have still not returned to work. Thatcher says that she might not be inclined to return at all.
“There is nothing that could bring me back to Salem and provide a vote to grant the super-majority quorum in light of their members comparing Republicans to terrorists,” Thatcher reportedly said in a statement.
Thatcher posted a Day 7 Facebook diatribe early on Thursday where she affirmed the same positions.
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Claire Goforth is a Jacksonville, Florida-based journalist covering politics, culture, justice, and unicorns. Her work has appeared in publications ranging from regional alt-weeklies to Al Jazeera.