BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The FBI says Iran and Russia are trying to interfere in the U.S. election by sowing antagonism and confusion. Has that foreign interference reached Kern County? Or is something else going on? One case involving what appears to be a threat of violence against Trump supporters prompts that question.
We’re less than two weeks from Election Day and voter intimidation — or fakery disguised as intimidation — is popping up all over the country.
From Florida to Alaska emails purporting to be from a far-right group are turning up. Says one email from someone claiming to be the Proud Boys, a white nationalist group: Vote for Trump, or else! Real or manufactured to cast a negative light on the president? The FBI is investigating.
In Colorado, alleged intimidation from the owner of a mobile home park: If Biden wins, the owner claims, your rent could double.
And now in Kern County — a letter threatening Trump supporters. Or was it a joke?
A 17 News viewer emailed to say a neighbor of his in the northwest Bakersfield development known as Saddleback at Tallus Ranch was claiming to have been targeted by someone who posted a letter on his door threatening him with “severe consequences” as a Trump supporter if the president refuses to concede after the election.
Upon closer inspection we learn that the letter was posted on a social media page belonging to a Facebook group dedicated to that neighborhood, and closed to nonresidents. The resident who posted it — he asked that his name not be used — said he was joking around … and his mildly profane caption seems to support that.
Seems the letter addressed to “Dear neighbor,” and threatening violence, has simply gone viral.
But where did it come from?
How about Milford, New Hampshire, population 15,000, 3,000 miles away? The New Hampshire attorney general’s office is investigating two complaints in Milford and two other complaints in nearby Brookline, New Hampshire, from homeowners who believe they were targeted because of the Trump signs in their yards. Make sure your insurance has adequate coverage for fire damage, it says in part.
KGET searched news reports and could find no evidence these letters had turned up anywhere else in the country. Except here.
“Several of us up there in Bear Valley Springs got these warning letters in our mailboxes,” Lorraine Ryan-Bell said. Then, reading from the letter, a copy of the one from New Hampshire, not the one she said she received: “We recommend that you check your home insurance policy and make (sure) that it is current and that it has adequate coverage for fire damage.”
She did not immediately provide a copy of the letter sent to her Bear Valley Springs home.
Ryan-Bell was at Republican Party headquarters in Bakersfield Thursday picking up campaign material and told staffers there about the letter.
She was not able to provide contact information for neighbors who also received the letter.
The Bear Valley Springs Police Department said, through a Kern County Sheriff’s Department spokesman, it was not aware of any complaints about such a letter.
Voter intimidation is against the law. So are threats against life and property under any circumstances. If someone threatens you, be it Proud Boys, Antifa, or someone pretending to be from any such group, police advise that you call them.