I was happy yesterday to read that a classic Florida Man, Trump coup rioter Paul Allard Hodgkins, admitted to several charges and is likely to redoing to prison for at least a year. CNN reported that "The obstruction charge he has pleaded guilty to carries a maximum 20 years in prison, though judges almost never sentence defendants to the maximum amount. Still, the resolution of Hodgkins' case sends a signal for other riot defendants that prosecutors may not be willing to significantly reduce charges for those who entered the Capitol building. Many of the Capitol riot defendants are already engaged in plea talks, and, as is typical in the criminal justice system, a large proportion are expected to plead guilty."
Also noteworthy was an AP report that far right group the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers are in disarray after the failed coup. Three dozen of their members have been charged with crimes and some are already ratting on others. AP reported that "Some local chapters cut ties with national leadership in the weeks after the deadly siege. The Proud Boys’ chairman called for a pause in the rallies that often have led to clashes with anti-fascist activists. And one Oath Keeper has agreed to cooperate against others charged in the riot. Some extremism experts see parallels between the fallout from the Capitol riot and the schisms that divided far-right figures and groups after their violent clashes with counter-protesters at the 'United the Right' white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017. The white supremacist 'alt-right' movement fractured and ultimately faded from public view after the violence erupted that weekend."
QAnon may be much harder to deal with. It's more like a religion than a gang. Vice News had an interesting report of a QAnon Plot To 'Eliminate' Elected Officials. David Gilbert wrote that "A known grifter and QAnon supporter who claims she can time-travel has amassed an army of thousands of loyal followers to carry out a plot to oust elected officials across the country and replace them with QAnon believers-- and she’s using game-streaming platform Twitch to do it." How does the Justice Department deal with that?
Terpsichore Maras-Lindeman has spent the last four months building an intricate network of groups in all 50 states, urging followers to dig up information about elected officials and cough up hundreds of dollars to take part in her scheme.
Maras-Lindeman has promised her followers that the plot will bring about “retaliation” for what she believes was a stolen election last November, and ultimately see the return of former president Donald Trump to the White House.
All the while, Maras-Lindeman, who streams under the name Tore Says, has grown her subscriber base massively, raking in tens of thousands of dollars since the beginning of the year. She even managed to convince her supporters to cough up over $87,400 in a crowdfunding campaign, which she used to buy a new Tesla.
Maras-Lindeman is part of a growing ecosystem of grifters and hucksters who are leveraging the widespread belief that Trump’s election loss was somehow orchestrated by shadowy figures and companies tied to the Democrats. This so-called “Big Lie” has taken hold within the mainstream Republican Party, and fringe figures like Maras-Lindeman have succeeded in carving out a niche that’s proving to be highly lucrative.
When President Joe Biden was inaugurated on January 20, QAnon supporters were distraught-- after all, they were promised that would never happen.
For some it was the final straw, but others, who had spent years devoted to the conspiracy movement, needed something to latch onto-- and Maras-Lindeman provided that.
A week after Biden’s inauguration, Maras-Lindeman outlined an audacious plan to oust sitting lawmakers across the country and replace them with Q believers who were tired of having elections stolen from them.
And they were going to begin with Ohio.
“Ohio’s gonna be lit, next week we’re gonna be setting some serious fires,” she told viewers on her Twitch channel, ToreSays, on Jan. 29. Then, she issued a warning to the lawmakers: “You want a great reset? Here it is. We’re gonna do it our way, and that’s by eliminating you.”
The plan was relatively simple: Maras-Lindeman claimed that vote-counting equipment used in states across the country were not properly certified and that as a result, all elected officials-- both Democrat and Republican-- were illegitimate. This opens the door for anyone to file what’s known as a “quo warranto” lawsuit, an arcane legal action that requires a person to show by what warrant an office or franchise is held, claimed, or exercised.
But so far neither Maras-Lindeman nor any of her supporters has provided evidence to back up their claims that the voting machines are invalid.
After filing the lawsuit, any resident of a particular state can then justifiably oust an elected official from the same district and replace them until a new election was held.
“From what I can discern, the final step is meeting at the Ohio Supreme Court, where they’ll look to have Ms. Lindeman filing their election fraud warrants, in an effort to remove the ‘illegally elected’ representatives, and take their place,” Genevieve Oh, a livestreaming analyst who has been closely tracking Maras-Lindeman’s activity on Twitch for months, told VICE News.
“Looking at her followers’ messages and reactions, she seems to have legitimately convinced her viewers they’re going to take Ohio Senate and House of Representatives’ seats through this movement,” Oh added.
So far over 60 people in Ohio alone have signed up to take part in this mass lawsuit filing, according to an online spreadsheet used by the group and seen by VICE News.
Over the course of the next four months, Maras-Lindeman’s support base grew dramatically on her Twitch channel. In parallel, she organized state-specific groups on the encrypted messaging app Telegram to allow citizens in those states to coordinate their efforts and get people to sign up to challenge elected officials.
Each state channel has at least one administrator who relays Maras-Lindeman’s instructions to the group, while in-person Zoom calls with hundreds of people have also been organized.
While some of the groups, like those in Ohio and Wisconsin, have over 500 members, some others had just a few dozen participants.
The campaigns have been given different names. In Ohio the plot to unseat elected officials is called “Operation 1776” while in Wisconsin the campaign is called “Operation Reigns.”
A document shared with the Wisconsin group and viewed by VICE News gives those involved a rundown of what the campaign hopes to achieve.
“The majority of us are not ‘claiming’ a seat with the intention of remaining in it long-term (although I think many of us should consider this), nor are we attempting a long term coup; we simply want to hold their place just long enough to prove our point and assure WI voting is safe, secure, and transparent. If they (those ‘elected’) are TRULY OUR servants (and our actions will remind them they are), they should then support our effort to bring upon the changes required to institute a fair election process so they may (or may not) be re-elected.”
There are also side channels on Telegram, where dedicated supporters began digging up and sharing personal information about the elected officials in their states, including phone numbers and email addresses, which are then used to harass those officials with phone calls and emails.
...Initially Maras-Lindeman suggested she would lead an in-person meetup of supporters who would walk to Ohio’s Supreme Court and file the quo warranto writs en masse, and that it would happen almost immediately. But that hasn’t happened yet. Repeatedly over the course of the last few months, she has deflected and delayed, telling followers she needs to get everything in place before filing the lawsuits so it won’t be a waste of time and effort.
That became much harder last month when a group called “We The People” filed a quo warranto lawsuit in Arizona, with 19 people demanding that 19 elected officials-- or “inadvertent usurpers,” as they were called in the filing-- vacate their seats.
Maras-Lindeman subsequently claimed credit for the Arizona filing. On her Telegram channel se shared a messages that said: “So proud of my team in AZ. We worked hard to get this out there and all because @ToreSays taught us how to fight.”
But some of Maras-Lindeman’s supporters reacted angrily, demanding that the lawsuits in their states were filed immediately, But rather than giving specifics, Maras-Lindeman has retreated from her earlier bolder claims about what will happen in Ohio, now preferring to tease her followers with hints about what is to come.
“So now we’re gonna talk about our lawsuit, without talking about our lawsuit,” she said during a livestream on Twitch on May 11. “I want you to pay attention to this and we’ll talk about it when it’s signed, sealed and delivered around June 10th, hopefully. It could take plus or minus a couple of days.”
Despite repeatedly failing to deliver on promises, Maras-Lindeman’s popularity continues to grow-- alongside her ability to earn money from her subscribers.
Maras-Lindeman first gained notoriety in the right-wing conspiracy ecosystem when she appeared in the conspiracy-laden documentary “Shadowgate,” made by former InfoWars reporter Millie Weaver, who also streams on Twitch.
Prior to that, Maras-Lindeman’s past appears to be a patchwork of lies, half-truths, and contradictions... But what may be most worrying to the thousands of people who are giving her money every month is that she has already been found guilty of ripping people off by misrepresenting what the money she is collecting is for.
In 2018, a judge in North Dakota, where she was living at the time, ordered her to pay $25,000 after she was found to have used money collected-- which she claimed was to fund homeless shelters and wreaths for veterans’ graves-- on purchases for herself at McDonald’s, QVC, and elsewhere.
Maras-Lindeman has appealed the court’s decision to North Dakota’s Supreme Court, claiming bureaucratic failings and identity theft caused the confusion.
Despite her questionable background, Maras-Lindeman has managed to become a celebrity within the world of election-fraud hucksters, partnering with Weaver to produce more Shadowgate documentaries, and fostering close ties with former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne, who’s bankrolling the controversial audit in Maricopa County.
And she is converting that notoriety into hard cash.
Maras-Lindeman only began broadcasting on Twitch on July 20 last year, at first averaging just nine viewers, according to data collected by Oh and shared with VICE News.
By August, her mix of QAnon and election fraud conspiracies had begun to gain a following and she was averaging 390 concurrent viewers. By the end of the year, when she was being quoted in election fraud lawsuits by “Kraken lawyer” Sidney Powell, Maras-Lindeman’s streams had reached 1,000 concurrent viewers.
And last month, she was averaging over 4,000 viewers on each livestream, peaking at over 5,000 concurrent viewers on May 10, the day the quo warranto lawsuit was filed in Arizona.
Maras-Lindeman now has 18,300 subscribers to her Twitch channel, and since December alone, those subscribers have brought in $35,000, according to analysis by Oh. And because she’s a verified partner on Twitch, she gets to keep 70% of that.
While her subscriber base may seem low compared to the hundreds of thousands of followers some QAnon influencers have, Maras-Lindeman has an incredibly engaged and loyal audience, especially when compared to other Twitch streamers.
...Despite the fact that she shares conspiracy theories, is orchestrating a nationwide uprising, claims to be able to travel to the future, and features a burning Q as part of her logo, Maras-Lindeman’s channel continues to be verified and is listed among the most popular Twitch channels anywhere in the world.