Locals have pleaded guilty, but conspiracy theories still reign
By Maggie Q. Thompson, 6:00AM, Sat. Jan. 6, 2024
Hundreds of Trump supporters gathered at the Texas State Capitol Jan. 6, 2021 to protest Congress’ certification of President Joe Biden (Photo by John Anderson)
It’s been exactly three years since a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Though more than 700 people have pleaded guilty to federal crimes stemming from the insurrection (including a group of Central Texans), the beliefs that drove that mob are still rampant.
A CNN poll in August found that 69% of Republicans believe President Joe Biden’s win was not legitimate. A poll this week from The Washington Post and University of Maryland found that one in three U.S. adults think the same, while one in four Americans believe the FBI organized the January 6 attack.
FBI sources told Reuters there was little evidence that the attack itself was coordinated at all, but there is ample evidence of scheming to overturn the election. One of those suspected schemers is right here in Central Texas – the owner of One Shot Distillery & Brewery in Dripping Springs. The U.S. House committee that investigated the events of January 6 found that the Hays County man, retired Army colonel Phil Waldron, circulated a PowerPoint that called for Donald Trump to declare a state of emergency and seize voting machines, as The New York Times reported. Most White House officials dismissed the presentation, but Trump “was very interested in keeping pathways to victory open,” his campaign manager Bill Stepien told the Select Committee.
As for the storming itself, several Central Texans have pleaded guilty to charges related to the breach. Bastrop’s Jeffrey Shane Witcher and Georgetown’s Richard Franklin Barnard were both charged and pleaded guilty, KVUE reported. In April and September of this year, two locals who worked for Infowars were sentenced for involvement, as NBC and PBS reported. An Austin real estate executive faced multiple charges for the insurrection but died in an accident before the case was resolved. And one of the first people to breach a line of Capitol police to enter the building, Austinite Geoffrey Shough, was sentenced to six months in prison last March.
While some of those folks are still serving time, Central Texas is still serving up fresh hot propaganda for the nation to consume. The Chronicle reported last month that the group responsible for the vast majority of white supremacist propaganda distributed in the United States since 2019, Patriot Front, is managed in part by a young Hays County man, according to an investigation by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The group has been particularly active on the Texas State University campus, slated to host the first presidential debate this cycle.
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