After Losing Re-election, Will Shasta County District 4 Supervisor Patrick Jones Burn It All Down?

Most candidates coming off an unexpected 20-point shellacking by a political novice in a primary election might pause and reflect on what went wrong; what they might do differently next time. But not Shasta County District 4 Supervisor Patrick Jones.

After being pummeled by newcomer Matt Plummer 60 percent to 40 percent in the March 5 primary, the lame duck supervisor has doubled down on his twin obsessions, gun nuttery and election denialism, in Shasta County Superior Court as well as the Board of Supervisors chamber.

On April 5, Jones filed a motion in Shasta County Superior Court seeking to disqualify Judge Benjamin Hanna from overseeing the civil lawsuit filed by Anderson and Millville residents opposed to Jones building a 151-acre shooting sports center in the middle of their rural residential neighborhood.

Jones has worked at the family gun store, Jones Fort in Redding, since he was a teenager. His ambitious gun range project, dubbed the High Plains Shooting Sports Center, is the culmination of a lifelong dream. It’s located on the Millville Plains three miles east of Palo Cedro. The Millville Plains residents are requesting that a full environmental impact study be conducted before the project proceeds.

Why does Jones claim Judge Hanna should be disqualified? It’s as complicated as it is absurd.

In an unsworn statement accompanying the motion, Jones claims an unnamed whistleblower told him Hanna, who formerly served as a senior deputy district attorney in Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett’s office, and other members of Bridgett’s staff, campaigned for their boss in the 2022 primary election while on county time.

Jones claims as a county supervisor he’s hired an outside investigator to look into this alleged election fraud. Since Judge Hanna may have to testify as a witness in the alleged investigation, Jones contends that Hanna’s “court is not in a position to be a fair and impartial arbiter of this dispute.”

Reader beware: Jones is an unreliable narrator. Anything he says should be taken with a few grains of salt, a squeeze of lime and a shot of tequila.

Repeat if necessary.

Liberty Committee candidates about to discover they didn’t sweep the 2022 primary election.

Doubling Down on Election Denial

The gun store scion remains consumed with overturning the 2022 primary election results, in which three experienced female candidates, DA Bridgett, Shasta County Clerk/Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen and Shasta County Schools Superintendent Judy Flores trounced the slate of white male MAGA candidates funded by Connecticut multimillionaire Reverge Anselmo and proffered by Jones & Co.

At the April 9 Board of Supervisors meeting Jones once again put election denialism on the front burner with a resolution requesting that the board discuss extending the amount of time elections data is stored beyond federal and state laws mandating their destruction. Jones was especially keen to preserve records from the 2022 primary election.

Assistant Registrar of Voters Joanna Francescut pointed out a couple of problems with his request. One, the 2022 primary was 22 months ago, and federal law required destruction of the election data the very next morning, on April 10.

Two, the 2022 primary election was conducted using Dominion Voting Systems. Since Jones, District 1 Supervisor Kevin Crye and District 5 Supervisor Chris Kelstrom voted to terminate the Dominion contract more than a year ago, there is no way to access the 2022 election data without first establishing a new contract with Dominion.

The Shasta County Election Commission. Susanne Baremore and Dawn Duckett, left, and Bev Gray, far right, have stepped down.

At the board meeting, fiscally conservative Republican Dawn Duckett, a frequent public speaker and former member of the rapidly imploding Shasta County Elections Commission, voiced the discontent that caused local voters to turn on election deniers like Jones and failed District 2 candidate Laura Hobbs in the March 5 primary election.

“With the election results the people have spoken,” Duckett said. “Supervisor Jones and Laura Hobbs were defeated not by narrow margins; they were clobbered. I think the public has sent a loud message that we are growing very tired of the false narrative that our elections office is either corrupt or inept. It’s just simply not true.”

“Let’s set this county up for success and concentrate our efforts on programs and items and commissions that will have a tangible positive effect on the community,” she concluded.

Duckett’s spot-on assessment didn’t stop Jones, Crye and Kelstrom from voting 3-1 to delay destruction of the 2022 primary election records by two weeks so newly arrived County Counsel Joe Larmour can find some loophole in the law.

During the meeting, Larmour was forced to concede that any such recommendation was counter to federal and state election law and merely advisory.

A News Café asked Francescut about the status of the 2022 primary records last week.

“After a discussion with county counsel, we destroyed the records as required by law,” she said.

High Plains Shooting Sports Center logo.

Does Patrick Jones have a Gun Problem?

For someone who’s spent most of his life selling firearms Patrick Jones doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in responsible gun ownership. At the April 2 board meeting, defending his proposal to spend $50,000 on assessing the county’s risk if it allows concealed weapons to be carried in public buildings—in accordance with the MAGA board’s “gun sanctuary” resolution but contrary to recently enacted state law, SB 2—Jones sounded more threatening than reassuring.

“Members of the public properly permitted could come into this chambers and elected officials could carry as well [prior to SB 2],” Jones said. “So, the guns have already been here. You just didn’t know it because we carry concealed. So, you don’t know the full extent, and you never will.”

Jones lives in that la-la land where the good guy with a gun saves the day every time. At the meeting, he recalled the 2008 Kirkwood City Council shooting in Missouri, which occurred when Jones was on the Redding City Council. A disgruntled contractor gunned down six people, including a cop, the mayor, two city councilmembers and a reporter.

“Members of the public that were properly permitted put that suspect down,” Jones said.

Jones’ statement is incorrect. The Kirkwood City Council shooter was shot and killed by two policeman from the station across the street from city hall.

But no matter. Here comes pistol-packing Patrick to the rescue.

“They asked me at the City of Redding if I would carry at council meetings,” Jones continued. “And my response was I already do, you just don’t know about it. Because it’s legal and I’m carrying concealed and following the law and I’ve been carrying concealed every day of my life from the day I turned 21. And no one has ever seen me standing upright without a gun on.”

The new Shasta County Superior Courthouse. Sometimes justice is beautiful.

Flash forward to April 8, where on the sixth floor of the sparkling new Shasta County Superior Court building, Judge Benjamin Hanna was presiding over Dept. 63.

A half-dozen Millville Plains residents in flannel shirts and blue jeans sat on the left side of the courtroom; Jones, in a slate business suit and no tie, sat on the right side with his wife, as well as failed District 3 candidate Win Carpenter and another supporter.

The plaintiffs and respondents were gathered for a status conference to set the schedule for the civil trial. Presumably, Jones entered the courthouse, a public building, walking upright on his own two legs. He no doubt passed through the metal detectors in the lobby on his way to the elevators.

I asked a member of the Shasta County Marshall’s Office who guards the courthouse’s front entrance if he knew who Supervisor Jones was, and whether Jones was allowed to carry a concealed weapon inside the courthouse.

The marshal was emphatic: Jones was not allowed to carry a concealed firearm inside the courthouse, and he wasn’t carrying when he walked through the metal detectors that morning.

So, it seems that many people have seen Jones standing upright without a concealed firearm on his person, just on this one day at the courthouse. Once again, Jones, who did not respond to questions emailed to him by A News Café, is misleading the public.

Jones & Co. didn’t stick around the courthouse very long. It was early Monday morning and Judge Hanna was blindsided by Jones’ in propria persona motion to disqualify him from the case. That was by design; Jones filed the declaration the previous Friday, late in the afternoon.

Saying he would issue a ruling on Jones’ motion to remove him within 10 days, Judge Hanna called the status conference to a close before it even began.

He cannot tell a lie: Patrick Jones takes a polygraph test. Needless to say, such tests are notoriously unreliable.

Jones Attempts to Figuratively Burn Down DA’s Office

In his statement supporting his motion to disqualify Judge Hanna, Jones makes some serious allegations, all based on what an alleged whistleblower, “a former employee of the Shasta County District Attorney’s office and close friend of DA Bridgett,” supposedly told him.

Jones claims the whistleblower told him that Bridget “instructed her employees — including secretarial staff, senior/supervising deputy district attorneys and deputy district attorneys — to work on her election campaign during business hours and county time.”

Those employees included Hanna and his wife, Kelly Kafel, who remains at the DA’s office.

According to the alleged whistleblower, “DA Bridgett told her office that she ‘would lose the election and you will lose your jobs’ if the employees didn’t work on her campaign.”

The supposed whistleblower told Jones that former county counsel conducted an investigation in which “DA Bridgett admitted that she instructed her employees — including the secretarial staff, senior and supervising district attorneys and deputy district attorneys — to work on her reelection campaign.”

Jones claims former county counsel hid the investigation from the board of supervisors. He has since hired an outside investigator to examine the allegations. According to Jones’ statement, since Judge Hanna will potentially be questioned by this investigator, he’s incapable of being a “fair and impartial arbiter” in the gun range lawsuit and must be disqualified from the case.

Shasta County District Attorney announcing Zogg Fire settlement last year.

Upon being made aware of Jones’ statement, Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett categorically denied all of Jones’ claims.

“Thanks for bringing this to my attention,” Bridgett told A News Café. “I was not aware that Patrick made statements in a declaration about me in his attempt to disqualify a judge in the lawsuit against him. After reading it, I can assure you the statements he made about me and my office are false. It is concerning that Patrick would make such false statements under penalty of perjury. In any case, I am confident that the truth will prevail.”

Perhaps seeking to skirt a perjury charge, Jones did not certify under penalty of perjury that his statement was true and correct as required by law. It’s an unsworn statement. For that reason, Donald Mooney, the attorney for the Millville/Anderson plaintiffs, says Jones’ pleading is worthless in court.

Davis attorney Donald Mooney represents Millville/Anderson residents in gun range lawsuit.

“Mr. Jones’ declaration is not under penalty of perjury and therefore cannot be relied upon for any purpose regarding the statement of disqualification,” Mooney wrote in his response to Jones’ motion.

Jones also failed to raise the disqualification in a timely manner and didn’t properly notify Judge Hanna and the plaintiffs, according to Mooney.

Mooney notes that the rules of evidence require a witness to have personal knowledge of a matter; therefore, Jones’ reliance on an anonymous whistleblower constitutes hearsay evidence which is inadmissible except as provided by law.

Mooney appears to doubt Jones’ claim that he’s hired an outside investigator.

“Mr. Jones further states the Court will be subpoenaed as part of this investigation,” Mooney wrote. “Nothing in the declaration, however, indicates that the Board of Supervisors has approved an investigation. Moreover, a private investigator hired by an individual who happens to be a member of the Board of Supervisors does not have the power of subpoena and neither does Mr. Jones. Thus, there is no factual or legal basis to support this claim.”

On the afternoon of Friday April 12, Judge Hanna issued an order striking Jones’ disqualification motion from the record. The judge followed the same legal logic as Mooney and pointed out that the unsworn statement failed to provide any evidence supporting the disqualification of Judge Hanna.

“Here, Real Party in Interest [Jones] claims that ‘this Court is not in a position to be a fair and impartial arbiter of this dispute,’” Judge Hanna stated. “However, the basis for such a conclusion is nothing more than conjecture, speculation, and what amounts to an argument of guilt by association based on the Court’s prior employment and the employment of the Court’s spouse.”

“Since the statement of disqualification is unverified, untimely, was not served on all parties, and fails to disclose on its face any legal grounds for disqualification, it is ordered stricken pursuant to CCP 170.4(b),” Judge Hanna concluded.

Jones has 10 days to appeal the decision.

Shon Northam (center), dressed in red-white-and-blue shorts, joins Carlos Zapata (right) and others at the Registrar of Voters office the night of the 2022 primary election to monitor the process.

Rigged from the Beginning

At the April 9 Board of Supervisors meeting, Jones spoke briefly about the gun range lawsuit, if only to reiterate that as the Real Party in Interest—the owner of the project in question—he’s paying for his own attorney in the case. If he loses the case, he’ll be paying for the Environmental Impact Report for the proposed gun range, not Shasta County.

According to a recent court filing, Jones plans to hire local attorney Shon Northam to defend the case. Northam is best known as a local criminal defense attorney and was an outspoken opponent of DA Bridgett during the 2022 primary election cycle.

Many of Northam’s claims back then sound suspiciously like the claims of Jones’ whistleblower now. Northam did not respond to questions emailed to him by A News Café.

The April 9 Board of Supervisors meeting was rigged for election denialism from the beginning. In his opening statement, Shasta County CEO David Rickert said he wanted to bring SB 1328 to the board’s attention. District 35 State Sen. Stephen Bradford’s bill proposes several changes in the election code designed to increase privacy and security.

The change Rickert was concerned about adds paper cast vote records to the list of election items that must retained for a certain time—22 months for federal elections, six months for state and local—then destroyed. Other items on the list include voted polling place ballots, paper record copies, vote by mail ballots, vote by mail envelopes, voted provisional ballots, provisional ballot envelopes and spoiled ballots.

Shasta County CEO David Rickert.

Rickert complained that SB 1328 “would seal the records of the cast vote which could only be released by court order which is very problematic.”

The state of the cast vote record isn’t “problematic” for most Shasta County residents. But it is of high interest to election deniers such as Mesa Pattern of Election Fraud conspiracy theorists Dr. Doug Frank and Jeffrey “Lone Racoon of the Apocalypse” O’Donnell, who use cast vote records in their presentations to mislead the public about imaginary election fraud.

Dr. Frank and O’Donnell are members of MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s band of election fraud promulgators. Lindell is currently being sued by Dominion Voting Systems for more than $1 billion. Dr. Frank and O’Donnell have been invited to spread their misinformation locally at Patrick Jones’ town hall meetings for the past two years.

“Thank you, CEO Rickert, for alerting us to SB 1328,” Jones complimented the county’s sycophantic lead administrator. “To seal the records on cast vote records is exactly the wrong thing to do. We’ve known for the last several years that the cast vote record is a very valuable tool for the public to watch ballots and watch votes how they come in in real time.”

Jones is referring to the Mesa Pattern of Election Fraud. The ‘tell’ is his claim that cast vote records allow the “public to watch ballots and watch votes how they come in in real time.” That’s incorrect. Votes aren’t counted in the exact chronological order that they’re cast, but if you pretend they are, you can find election fraud in every county in the United States using the debunked Mesa Pattern of Election Fraud theory.

It’s unclear why Sen. Bradford included paper cast vote records to the list of items to be stored and then destroyed in SB 1328. It might be for security or privacy reasons. It could be because many election deniers have been bogging down local election departments with excessive cast vote records requests.

“It seems like every time we hit upon something in Shasta County and throughout the state, the state wants to pass an election law to go around us,” Jones grumbled.

Rickert told the supervisors he would prepare a letter of opposition to SB 1328 to send to Sacramento.

Longtime Shasta County Clerk/Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen retires next month due to health reasons.

No Sympathy for the ROV

While none of her male colleagues acknowledged it, Shasta County District 3 Supervisor Mary Rickert’s absence from the meeting—she’s out indefinitely on medical and family leave—weighed heavy on the chamber. Rickert has been the sole voice of moderation on the board for more than three years, and it’s taken a toll on her.

Another voice of reason missing from the meeting: Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen, who’s retiring in weeks for health reasons after valiantly battling election deniers for the past several elections.

Assistant Registrar of Voters Joanna Francescut did well serving in Darling Allen’s stead. During R3, the discussion about keeping the 2022 primary election records past the legal destruction date, she politely parried with Jones and Crye, both of whom pushed her to act beyond the law.

Shasta County Assistant Clerk/Registrar of Voters Joanna Francescut.

Full marks to County Counsel Joe Larmour on his first public performance in Shasta County. Larmour didn’t buckle under the MAGA board’s pressure.

“There are California laws which essentially allow you to oversee elected officials,” he explained. “But when you have a mandatory duty under the law, they would be able to carry that out that even against the board’s vote.”

That means it’s an advisory resolution, not a legal command. When Crye, seeking to extend the shredding deadline by two weeks, sarcastically joked, “We always keep our government completely on time,” Francescut, fresh off long weeks of spent certifying the March primary results in the time required by law, wasn’t amused.

New Shasta County Counsel Joe Larmour.

“So, just to confirm, my staff are the hardest working staff in this,” Francescut said. “We’re trying to have the highest integrity possible by following all federal, state and local laws. That’s always our goal here, I just want to clarify that.”

Once again, Dawn Duckett attempted to inject rationality into the discussion during public comment.

“I personally don’t have any problem with preserving the records, but I would encourage you if county counsel is recommending something else be done, please take that advice,” Duckett advised. “I wasn’t sure if that was a recommendation on his [Larmour’s] part, maybe a little clarification for the public would be needed.”

As usual, Jones, Crye and Kelstrom refused to take any sound advice and voted 3-1 against District 2 Supervisor Tim Garman to extend the shredding deadline.

Nevertheless, as already noted above, Assistant Registrar of Voters Francescut met with newly arrived County Counsel Larmour after the board meeting. Subsequently, the 2022 primary election records were destroyed, as required by law.

Patrick Jones infamously vowed never to cross the Sundial Bridge during this Tea Party protest.

Can County Survive Eight More Months of Patrick Jones?

Elections are supposed to have consequences. District 1 Supervisor Kevin Crye just barely survived the attempt to recall him, winning by just 50 votes out of more than 8,000 cast. Matt Plummer crushed Jones 60 percent to 40 percent in District 4. Voters reasonably expect Crye and Jones to respond to the will of the electorate.

But the voters will be disappointed in this case. As has become increasingly clear since the primary election results were certified earlier this month, Jones, Crye and Kelstrom have no intentions of slowing their reactionary roll.

Case in point: R7, the discussion of a $1.5 million grant from the Center for Tech and Civil Life to Shasta County Elections office at end of the April 9 board meeting.

The grant was originally made in 2022 through the CTCL’s U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence program, which specified “the funds must be used exclusively for the public purpose of planning and operationalizing safe and secure election administration infrastructure in Shasta County.”

But last year after canceling the Dominion contract and ordering the elections department to design and implement a manual tally voting system, the department was asked to submit a counter proposal to spend the $1.5 million on a building to house the hundreds of employees necessary to hand-count Shasta County’s elections.

The MAGA board’s plans to hand-count elections were mooted when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 969 into law last September. Hand-counting is now illegal in counties with more than 5000 voters and special elections with more than 1000 voters. The overburdened elections department was unable to find a building before the grant expired and AB 969 was signed into law.

At the April 9 board of supervisors meeting, Francescut brought a retroactive version of the grant back for the board’s consideration with four alternative plans to spend the funding. The supervisors were permitted to mix and match components between the four plans to fit the budget.

Los Tres Pendejos: Supervisors Patrick Jones, Kevin Crye and Chris Kelstrom.

Kelstrom complained about accepting money from Mark Zuckerberg—Mark Zuckerberg and his wife donated $350 million to the Center for Tech and Civic Life in 2020. The purpose was to buttress thousands of county election departments nationwide coping with a presidential election and the COVID-19 pandemic. Jones voted against accepting the grant at all. Crye slapped a stack of printed elections staff emails on the dais which in his narrow mind proved elections staff were being insubordinate.

Eventually Crye, Kelstrom and Garman voted for plan A. But here’s what they chose to cut from the plan: $19,000 for staff stress and resiliency training and $79,000 for voter education outreach mailings to all voters.

It’s no secret that election deniers and their aggressive tactics have made the lives of election workers nationwide miserable, leading to rising turnover rates that imperil our ability to conduct free and fair elections.

“Some of the staff in the ROV’s office are the lowest paid workers in Shasta County,” Francescut told A News Cafe.  “At peak workflow, this work becomes very stressful, and naturally there is high pressure for each task.”

Francescut is an experienced election official with 16 years and 31 elections under her belt. During the peak election cycle, she works 50+ hour weeks to ensure all tasks are completed accurately and according to law.

“Cathy [Darling Allen] has allowed an environment for our staff that includes ongoing training and career development,” Francescut said. “That environment is a direct result of her leadership and staff that work in our office value that leadership. It shows by how hard they work to efficiently complete each task during the election cycle.”

Francescut said the cancelled voter outreach funding would have been used to educate the public about active and inactive voter rolls. Confusion about the topic exists because election deniers who subscribe to the Mesa Pattern of Election Fraud claim without evidence that states via algorithms use inactive voter rolls to manipulate county elections.

For example, Jones defeated incumbent District 4 Supervisor Steve Morgan by double digits in 2020, but continues to claim the Mesa Pattern of Election Fraud proves he should have won by a lot more.

“A lot!” as former President Trump might exclaim.

With Darling Allen’s pending retirement, Francescut, her loyal lieutenant, would appear to be the logical replacement. But the MAGA board majority isn’t well known for making logical decisions, and there’s a persistent drumbeat to hire retired utility executive and election denier Bob Holsinger for the position, and rumors of other MAGA ROV contenders.

Darling Allen defeated Holsinger by double digits in the 2022 primary. A News Café asked Francescut how Holsinger’s appointment might affect the elections office.

“The hiring of the new County Clerk/ROV will come just weeks before the ‘high speed election train’ leaves the station for the upcoming presidential general election,” Francescut said. “In fact, today many staff are already busy completing their preparations for November’s General Election. It is well known that anytime there is a change in leadership it has an impact on the team that completes the work.”

She noted that the Registrar of Voters is also the County Clerk, responsible for issuing marriage licenses, passport acceptance processing, fictitious business names, environmental filings, notary oaths and additional professional filings

“Our staff do this work because they have passion for serving our community and because they have respect for the high integrity leadership and knowledge that Cathy brought in the office,” Francescut said. “Any person that takes on this role will need to mirror that same leadership style for this upcoming election to be successful.”

What’s going to happen next is anyone’s guess. Will the current MAGA board comprised of Jones, Crye and Kelstrom do the right thing and appoint Francescut as interim ROV and schedule an election for County Clerk/Registrar of Voters this November?

That seems unlikely. It’s far more probable that Jones, with just eight months left in office, will attempt to burn the county down on his way out.

Will anyone try to stop him?

If you appreciate investigative journalist R.V. Scheide’s reporting, please consider making a donation to A News Cafe.

R.V. Scheide

R.V. Scheide is an award-winning journalist who has covered news, politics, music, arts and culture in Northern California for more than 30 years. His work has appeared in the Tenderloin Times, Sacramento News & Review, Reno News & Review, Chico News & Review, North Bay Bohemian, San Jose Metro, SF Bay Guardian, SF Weekly, Alternet, Boston Phoenix, Creative Loafing and Counterpunch, among many other publications. His honors include winning the California Newspaper Publishers Association’s Freedom of Information Act and best columnist awards as well as best commentary from the Society of Professional Journalists, California chapter. Mr. Scheide welcomes your comments and story tips. Contact him at RVScheide@anewscafe.com..

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