CASTLE ROCK, Colo. — "Thou shalt not kill" was not the message at a Castle Rock Church on Thursday night when it hosted a right-wing extremist group's election fraud meeting.
FEC United, a conservative group in Colorado with a militia wing, held what it called an emergency town hall with Republican Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters and a who's who of election conspiracy theorists.
The event took place at The Rock, a church in Castle Rock.
When Peters arrived, she talked about being in the same clothes she wore when she turned herself in and was booked and released on obstruction charges in Grand Junction.
Besides Peters, other forum panelists included:
- FEC United founder Joe Oltmann
- GOP U.S. Senate candidate, State Rep. Ron Hanks, R-Penrose
- Former CU conservative visiting scholar John Eastman
- GOP gubernatorial candidate Danielle Neuschwanger
- Max McGuire, co-host of Conservative Daily podcast with Oltmann
- GOP El Paso County Sheriff candidate Todd Watkins
- Kevin Conrad, GOP candidate for Senate District 35
- Vickie Tonkins, El Paso County GOP Chair
- Shawn Smith, self-proclaimed election denier
It was Smith who suggested the hanging of Colorado's Democratic Secretary of State.
In a church.
"You may know me as the number one most dangerous election denier in Colorado," Smith said.
He then said -- without proof -- that he had evidence of criminal election conduct by Griswold.
That brought chants of "Lock her up!" from the crowd.
Then, in a church, he more than hinted at ignoring one of the Ten Commandments.
"You know, if you're involved in election fraud, then you deserve to hang," said Smith.
"Yeah!" was shouted from the church crowd, followed by applause.
"Sometimes, the old ways are the best ways. I was accused of endorsing violence. I'm not endorsing violence, I'm saying once you put your hand on a hot stove, you get burned," said Smith.
"I took it very seriously, I reported it to state patrol," said Griswold. "I've asked them to investigate and if they can, prosecute."
On Friday, Griswold told Next with Kyle Clark that she reported that comment to Colorado State Patrol, as she has other threats that she has received written and verbally.
"Usually nothing happens, and it's very concerning because we're seeing these attacks against Secretaries of State, predominantly women," said Griswold.
Griswold has pushed for a legislative change that would allow the secretary of state, as well as the attorney general and state treasurer, to have the same Colorado State Patrol protection offered to the governor and lieutenant governor.
"We have not been given state patrol coverage that the state of Colorado should provide, and so we have to go to a third party to make sure that I can continue to do my job in a safe atmosphere," said Griswold.
She recently requested $120,000 for private security that she could hire to protect her when necessary.
The threats of hanging elected leaders did not start last night.
"If you see any articles that are out there that are talking about 'Joe Oltmann is talking about sending people to the gallows,' I did. I said that. I said that the adequate response for treason is 100 percent being hung by your neck until you're dead," said Oltmann during his podcast on Dec. 4.
Oltmann has pushed that narrative on his conservative podcast and at speaking events multiple times.
"By the way, if you don't like me talking about the gallows and hanging those that are traitors against our country, then change the law because it's in the Constitution that you should be hung," Oltmann said at conservative event in Dallas in December.
This group is careful with their language. At Thursday night's forum, Watkins, the sheriff's candidate in El Paso County was asked to change the word he used about being in Washington, D.C. on January 6.
"I believe in the Big Lie. I am an insurrectionist," said Watkins. "The election was stolen; you took over my government with communists…"
"Can you use a different word other than insurrectionist? Can you clarify?" said a voice off camera.
"American Patriot," said someone from the crowd.
"Patriot," said Watkins.
When Hanks spoke, he brought up Griswold's request for security money.
RAW: Body cam footage of Mesa Clerk Tina Peters' arrest
"A secretary of state who thinks she is so entitled to private security. It's $120,000," he said. "It passed. It'll be more next year."
Hanks told the crowd he is working on election integrity and talked about a couple of bills at the state Capitol that would drastically change how Colorado conducts elections. He knows they do not have a chance.
"We will prepare the battle space for the next session, and when we hit the majority, they can pull these bills out of archive," said Hanks.
On Friday, Next with Kyle Clark stopped by The Rock. In a brief conversation with the pastor, who attended Thursday night's forum, we asked if the church supports the idea of hanging the secretary of state and if the church would have FEC United back again.
The pastor said he was against a deadline to submit a grant, but wanted to sit down and talk at a later time. He said that it was not a simple 'yes' or 'no'.
Multiple people have asked about if the event affects the church's non-profit tax-exempt status. The IRS provided a booklet on what is and is not allowed. A church can have a public forum, it just gets squirrely if there is support for or against any one candidate.
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