Election fraud conspiracy theorist Jeffrey O’Donnell declined to appear in person at Shasta County Supervisor Patrick Jones’s Town Hall Thursday night. Instead, he chose to appear live via video feed from his home in Florida, transforming the event into a tightly scripted and somewhat mind-numbing Zoom session featuring The Lone Racoon of the Apocalypse and Patrick “Hand Count” Jones.
Nevertheless, most of the 350 people who packed the Holiday Inn conference room applauded O’Donnell’s performance, in which he reiterated his debunked “Mesa County pattern of fraud” conspiracy theory that falsely asserts an unknown entity is using remote triggers or algorithms to manipulate election results across the United States, including right here in Shasta County.
It was a classic case of preaching to the choir: asked at the beginning by Jones if they believed widespread election fraud is occurring at the national, state, and local levels, more than 80 percent of the audience members raised their hands. Those in attendance included District 5 Supervisor Chris Kelstrom, Cottonwood militia leader Woody Clendenen, the Gallardo twins, and State of Jefferson organizers Terry and Sally Rapoza.
Liberty PAC principal officer Mark Kent and several other “patriots” involved in the alleged assault on A News Café publisher Doni Chamberlain at a rightwing gathering at the Cottonwood Community Center earlier this month were also in attendance. Chamberlain was present as well, wearing a neck brace due to the injuries she suffered during the alleged assault.
Ironically, the supervisor who just joined Kelstrom and District 1 Supervisor Kevin Crye in voting down a code of conduct for the board of supervisors insisted upon a very specific code of etiquette at his own town hall event.
To enforce his etiquette provisions Jones said he stationed 15 men around the room ready to pounce upon anyone who questioned his authority. An unknown number of people at the event were carrying concealed weapons. The security detail proved unnecessary as liberal and moderate activists who’d originally planned to protest the town hall instead held a parallel event at Caldwell Park supporting supervisor Crye’s recall.
Four months ago, Crye, Kelstrom, and Jones voted to terminate Shasta County’s contract with Dominion Voting Systems and switch to an as-of-yet-to-be-approved hand-counting system. Ever since then, the trio, especially Crye and Jones, have been scrambling to justify their foolhardy decision, which will cost Shasta County millions of dollars and the cities of Anderson, Redding, and Shasta Lake hundreds of thousands of dollars each.
Those figures are based on estimates by a nationally respected elections expert, Shasta County Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen, who has held elected office for more than two decades and defeated her last opponent, election denier Bob Holsinger, by double-digits in the 2022 primary election.
On Thursday night Jones promised to bring the 2022 primary election before a judge, perhaps forgetting he and his rightwing cohorts blew their only chance for a recount when Reverge Anselmo’s bagman Mark Kent refused to pay for it last summer.
For an ultraconservative ideolog who’s constantly complaining about outsiders taking over Shasta County, Jones is completely dependent on outsiders.
Reverge Anselmo has provided the money, including more than $100,000 to Jones and more than $1 million to local MAGA candidates.
Instead of seeking Darling Allen’s sage advice, Jones, Crye, and Kelstrom have sought counsel from another outsider, namely MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a quivering, quaking, election-fraud-faking former crack-cocaine addict who’s being sued by Dominion Voting Systems for $1.5 billion.
Lindell’s minions, including Seth Keshel, Dr. Douglas Frank, and Linda Rantz, have all visited Shasta County during the past two years. Crye famously visited the pillow magnate in March, returning home with what he called “a big nothing burger.”
Before introducing O’Donnell, Jones cited a few cases of alleged past election interference, including what was apparently a reference to the work of University of Michigan Professor J. Alex Halderman, the renowned computer systems expert who warned the Clinton campaign about possible Russian interference in the 2016 election. It’s worth noting that Halderman has denounced theories like O’Donnell’s that ignore human error in favor of some unknown outside influence, such as a remote trigger or an algorithm. According to Wikipedia:
“Following the 2020 United States presidential election, Halderman stated that a software glitch during the unofficial vote tally was not caused by fraud, but rather by human error, and said the conspiracy theory that a supercomputer was used to switch votes from Trump to Biden was ‘nonsense.”
Yet that’s exactly the type of claim that O’Donnell continued to make at the town hall, once the journeyman computer engineer with no elections experience figured out how to navigate the Zoom interface. O’Donnell calls himself The Lone Racoon because he likes raccoons, not because he looks like one of the critters as Jones chided. An upside-down American flag, the symbol for distress, hung behind him on the wall, as he explained why we’re in a “break glass in case of emergency” moment when it comes to election fraud.
As I explained in my profile of O’Donnell last week, his Mesa County pattern of fraud conspiracy theory is based on a copy of the Mesa County, Colorado elections systems hard drive that was illegally accessed and copied by a third party then uploaded to the internet. This fall, MAGA Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters faces trial on a slew of felonies and misdemeanors related to providing access to the hard drive.
O’Donnell found two anomalies on the hard drive, one in the 2020 Mesa County presidential election data and a second similar error in the 2021 municipal election data. They would prove to be his key to Lindell’s network of election fraud promulgators.
O’Donnell soon found himself working with Texas A&M emeritus computer lecturer Walter Daugherity on a report for Peters’s legal team. Report 3 claimed the anomalies couldn’t be the result of human error and were evidence of election manipulation, either by a remote triggering device or algorithms embedded in the software. O’Donnell soon finds himself in Lindell’s employ as a computer analyst, appearing frequently on Frank TV.
But there’s a huge red flag regarding Report 3’s veracity. The anomalies O’Donnell discovered could have been—in fact were—created by human error. O’Donnell was responsible for conducting the interviews with Mesa County elections officials, and the report repeatedly claimed that all the pertinent personnel had been interviewed and no one had reported any anomalies.
But as Republican Mesa County District Attorney Daniel Rubinstein discovered after a thorough investigation, the anomalies were the results of human error. Report 3 failed to uncover that fact because O’Donnell didn’t interview any of Mesa County’s election officials.
“Despite repeated claims that there was extensive questioning of the Mesa County election officials, we were not able to locate a single person who said they were interviewed by the drafters of Report 3,” Rubinstein said in his report.
That’s called lying, and as O’Donnell’s spiel unfolded on the big screen Thursday night, my ears were perked for that fabrication and one other deceit in the Mesa County pattern of fraud conspiracy theory: O’Donnell’s knowingly false claim that the order of mail-in ballots as they are received by elections officials is totally random.
Sure enough, O’Donnell shrunk himself down to postage stamp size on the right side of the screen as the main view was dominated by graphs pulled from “Fingerprints of Fraud,” his 281-page report on the Mesa County pattern of fraud made available free online this past May.
The very first slide demonstrated O’Donnell’s mistaken notion that mail-in votes come in totally at random, like flipping a coin but graduated to the vote percentage received by each candidate. O’Donnell pretends this graph shows the voting ratio between Donald Trump and Joe Biden in “an actual county, but I’m not going to tell you which one.”
I suggest O’Donnell won’t tell us the name of the county because this is fictitious made-up data. It’s a picture of how mail-in votes might be received if, for example, the Democratic Party hadn’t encouraged its voters to take advantage of mail-in voting in the 2020 election and Donald Trump hadn’t demonized mail-in voting at every turn.
One might reasonably expect the mail-in vote for Trump in Shasta County to resemble the blue line in O’Donnell’s graph for Shasta County, which features what he calls the characteristic “back-half rise” of the Mesa County pattern of fraud. In reality, the back-half rise might simply reflect the fact that mail-in votes for Trump came in later in the 2022 electoral process than Biden’s mail-in votes.
The presentation in “Fingerprints of Fraud” is a logistical mess and O’Donnell’s arguments Thursday night suffered for it. The vertical and horizontal axes are rarely in agreement, missing labels abound and O’Donnell slips easily into lying his ass off to buttress his story, as he did when he claimed, “I was talking to the Mesa County clerks about this and that was the day the ballot tabulators went down.”
First of all, O’Donnell didn’t talk to anybody at the Mesa County elections office, according to the county DA. Secondly, the ballot tabulator didn’t go down, as also determined by the DA, who took the trouble to investigate Report 3 because O’Donnell and Daugherity asserted crimes had been committed and the 2020 and 2021 elections should be decertified—fairly bold if not absurd demands considering the quality of their work.
As one of the few people in the room who actually understood what was going on, I grew restless as I realized Jones was going to sneak out of the town hall without giving the audience a chance to ask questions, which is the main point of having a town hall in the first place, at least to my mind.
“Mr. Jones!” I shouted twice across the room as he was shutting the meeting down. “Will you open the floor to questions?”
He ignored me or perhaps didn’t hear me, so I walked across the room and met him at the podium.
“Mr. Jones, you know that Mr. O’Donnell didn’t talk to anyone at Mesa County,” I said. “That’s according to the DA. What do you have to say to that?”
“R.V., I’m not going to talk to you,” Jones said. “You’re a trespasser, you should be having some legal issues soon.”
“Oh, you’re talking about the time you called the sheriff on me about your hog farm?”
It’s totally true. In early June, three weeks or so after I wrote about the wild hog farm secreted on the 150-acre property Jones hopes to turn into a world-class shooting sports range on the Millville Plains, I got a call from a Shasta County Sheriff’s Office deputy asking all sorts of questions about my visit to the property.
I explained to the deputy that I’d met with more than a dozen Millville Plains residents at the edge of Jones’s property and that several of them told me Jones was keeping 600-pound wild Russian razorback boars in an enclosure located on the northeast corner of his property, right next to Bear Creek. The residents complained that Jones’s hogs were constantly escaping and causing property damage.
“It sounded like a crime scene to me, so I went to investigate,” I told the deputy.
“Next time leave the investigating to us,” the deputy said, informing me that it didn’t matter that Jones’s property wasn’t posted and the gates were open, he was still going to have to “trespass” me off the property. The deputy advised me not to return and that Jones might still press charges.
That was the first time I’ve ever heard “trespass” used as a verb. The second time occurred last week when Sheriff deputies “trespassed” A News Café publisher Doni Chamberlain out of the Cottonwood Community Center for committing journalism.
Is this how Shasta County Sheriff Michael Johnson intends to treat journalists from here on out?
I have no idea. But it’s exactly the behavior I’ve come to expect from District 4 Supervisor Patrick Jones, a petty tyrant of the first order.
Click here to watch the full meeting, filmed by Alan Ernesto Phillips.