Local Tea-Party leader Freedle: once led during a “bitterly divided” political scene

The biggest trend of the local election season is money from a PAC called “Americans for Good Government,” managed by Tea Party members, infiltrating local races for the first time, such as spending $2,222.37 for Districe 3 Supervisor candidate Dan Miller’s first campaign mailer, as well as $2,000 each for Cliff Newell’s campaign for DA and Anna Ferguson’s campaign for Superior Court Judge.

In Miller’s case, the PAC’s contributors include Stan Meckler, father of Tea Party co-founder Mark Meckler. The PAC lists its purpose as “providing support for candidates for office.” The PAC’s officers include Fran Freedle and Eddie Garcia,  who both are local Tea Party board members.

But Freedle is more than just a board member: She now publicly identifies herself as “leader of the Nevada County Tea Party” in an “Other Voices” in The Union this morning — confirming long-held speculation about her leading role. (The group’s website does not list a President).

Freedle was a County Supervisor during one of the most toxic times in local politics, garnering headlines throughout the region for a “bitterly divided” political scene. In her “coming out” commentary, Freedle states that the local Tea Party is “alive and well.” Voters would be well advised to educate themselves about this group’s far-reaching strategy.

The Tea Party, including Mark Meckler, has outlined 40-year plan to “take back our country.” It tackles four areas: educational, judicial, political and cultural, infusing them with traditional values by supporting conservative teachers, judges, politicians and musicians.

The effort is being aggressively pursued in our community, as evidenced by the Tea Party PAC funneling money into the local races this campaign season. The group also is infiltrating our schools, with a full-frontal assault on Common Core standards.

Toxic Times and Cronyism

Freedle has been a longtime hard-right political activist. She also is a former supervisor. In Freedle’s heyday, it was a toxic time in our community politically, as the Sacramento News & Review reminded us in 2004.

“Political discourse in the county seems one step away from open warfare,” the News & Review wrote.  The County Superintendent of Schools called it a “tinderbox, waiting to explode.” The News & Review article is here.

It also was marked by a “good old boys/girls” culture.

•In an editorial, Yubanet pointed out that Freedle was “coronated” as a clerk-recorder to fill out the term of another long-time political ally — though the plan ultimately failed. Here’s an excerpt from the Yubanet editorial,“Cronyism counts, literally”:

“So, how did Freedle wind up getting the job? Her application was retrieved from the recycle bin by 3rd District Supervisor Drew Bedwell and thrown into the pile of 6, making for 7 finalists.

“Not only did the BOS have to rescue Freedle’s application from the reject pile; she was the only applicant (of the 6 finalists) with no direct election experience. That’s not the point. The point is that the BOS ignored two professional panels and tore up their own procedures, just to grant a political favor. Period.

“No offense to Freedle, she is hardly the most trustworthy pick of the lot. On the contrary, she has cultivated a reputation for being bitterly partisan and downright mean to people, a rotten combination for a Clerk-Recorder who has to deal with the public non-stop. In sum, Freedle was the uncontested Wicked Witch of the Rood Center for four long years until she lost her bid for re-election to Bruce Conklin.”

•In 2010, Freedle was treasurer of hard-right activist Barry Pruett’s campaign for clerk-recorder against Greg Diaz.  Like Freedle, Pruett also had no election experience. He lost in every precinct. The same year Freedle wrote “Arizona immigration law needs support” in the CABPRO newsletter. “The Arizona law is prudent and fair; anything less is acquiescing to the presence of illegal aliens in our country,” she writes.

•Last fall, Freedle was pictured here with “Constitutional” Sheriff Richard Mack. “Former county supervisor Ms Fran Freedle chaired the small committee of women who worked months to plan, organize and bring about this occasion.”

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

15 thoughts on “Local Tea-Party leader Freedle: once led during a “bitterly divided” political scene”

  1. I remember well. That 2004 campaign and following 4 years turned a lot of folks in my neighborhood off from the Republican Party. Drew went down our street pounding on doors and barging in demanding to be heard. Scared our tenant with a disabled child have to death.
    In the fall of 2010 4 red shirts walked into McDonalds and started spouting off. One of them boasted “Ammo will be the next currency in this country!” My granddaughter, then almost 3, was aware of the tone and atmosphere the moment they walked in and hid behind me. We went out to the playground and the 4 took seats near the entrance, their behavior rather arrogant but more quiet. I witnessed another display at McDonalds 4 months later. A woman sat in a booth near them pretending to read a book but listened, as did I, to their conversations. They spouted nonsense about people of color and women, teachers, unions that would curl your ears.
    I wonder what kind of education employees at McDonalds get just from listening to patrons?
    I wonder if, given opportunity and poor judgment, if they’ll decide to shoot up the place? I really do think they want a range war in this county.
    Connection with tea party translates into no confidence as far as I’m concerned.

  2. Gosh, I sure hope the Nevada County Tea Part brings Cliven Bundy up here to speak. Bundy seems to have a lot to say that would align with many of our local baggers ideology. And he’d bring in WAY more than the 600 attendees Sheriff Mack did. It would be a real hoot!

      1. Gosh Bonnie, I guess I must have missed that edition of the Heritage Foundation’s blog. Darn it! I feel so foolish. So please, help me, and probably a bunch of others that hang around on Jeff’s blog who are just a bunch of liberal, lefty, pro union, believe in things that help with economic equality, gays have the right to marriage equality, affordable health care for all, higher minimum wage, global warming is a threat, think ecological health is more important than cows on Federal lands, etc. etc. etc., stay informed on the “REAL” America. And when you go to the next tea party meeting, tell them to consider bringing Cliven Bundy up here to speak. I’m really curious to hear more about Bundy’s thoughts on economic restoration and ending poverty in urban America.

  3. If you have not read “Storm Over Rangelands” by Wayne Hage, and you’re interested in western public land issues, it is worth the read. Mr. Hage was a darling of the first “Sagebrush Rebellion”, husband to land rights activist and Congresswoman Helen Chenoweth-Hage, and an articulate spokesperson who does a pretty good job laying out some of the history of land management law in the west. Of course once he lays out the history he then interprets it in a way that has no precedent in law.

    But Mr. Hage’s book is worth the read because it opens a window to the mindset of the last group of western radicals who challenged federal land management authority, who are closely mimicked by today’s activists.

    The point that Fran Freedle holds up Wayne Hage as a hero speaks volumes about the values she is advancing.

    The last round of “Sagebrush Rebellion” led to a series of running gun battles and assassinations in the Plains states by the Posse Comitatus movement, founded by American neo-Nazi organizer Henry Beach, and, in the Great Basin, to the bombing and arson of USFS and BLM facilities and death threats to federal employees and their families.

    Road crews in Toiyabe National Forest had to cease operations because they were being confronted at gunpoint. The same thing happened to federal employees on a relatively regular basis in Oregon, Idaho and Montana. I have met and talked to some of these employees, including District Ranger Gloria Flora, who left the USFS because they would not stand up to bullying.

    Federal judges in several western states received death threats and required 24 hr protection from law enforcement details.

    When asked about retaliation against federal court orders one top Montana Militia leader was quoted as saying, “There cannot be a cleansing without the shedding of blood.”

    Three weeks before the explosion in 1995 in Oklahoma City killed 168 people and wounded 680 people, a bomb blew out windows and ripped open a hole inside the United States Forest Service office in Carson City, Nev.

    Western land rights activist and retired Col. Bo Gritz described the Oklahoma City bombing as, “a Rembrandt – a masterpiece of science and art put together.”

    It was into this tinderbox of anti-government sentiment and threats of violence, and claiming “training” by many of the same people who training property rights and “Sagebrush Rebellion” groups that were active in other areas of the inter-mountain west, steeped in the tactics being used in Nevada and the Klamath River basin, that the Nevada County property rights groups stepped up their opposition to the NH 2020 program.

    Groups led by Drew Bedwell, Bill Weismann, and CABPRO, ramped up anti-government rhetoric and used it as a tactic to threaten, intimidate and bully county government employees and their fellow citizens. One of our Board of Supervisors children were picketed on their way to school in the morning. Flyers where circulated with outrageous claims of supposedly ‘immoral behavior’.
    I personally attended a public meeting where people were being trained in the parking lot in tactics to disrupt the meeting and were being served alcohol before attending a public meeting. I facilitated a small group of 20 people in one of these meetings while a burly, armband clad, yellow t-shirt wearing man literally shouted in my ear from about 1 foot away for the entire time, making it almost impossible to conduct public business. Friends of mine received death threats and were harassed at the supermarket. I received threatening phone calls at my home and at work.

    On the morning of January 10, 2001, we received word in my office that a mass shooting at a Nevada County government facility was underway in Nevada City. The caller told us she was concerned about our safety because she thought the incident might have been connected with NH 2020. Of course it turned out that the incident was completely unrelated, these were the tragic Scott Harlan Thorpe murders at the Nevada County Health and Human Services offices. But for 20 minutes a few of us sat around and seriously considered that all of this anti-government rhetoric may have gone a step too far.

    And it turns out the mental stability of the leaders of the property rights movement should have been seriously in question.

    On April 12, 2003, the Nevada County Sheriff’s department arrested 65-year-old Bill Weismann after he paid an undercover deputy for the murder of his 43-year-old neighbor, whom he was in a property line dispute with. The reason for attempted murder of Bill’s neighbor; a claimed six inch encroachment by a movable planter.

    I bring this up because I think the image of militia members and property rights activists sighting federal employees through high power rifles and semi-automatic (?) weapons while in the exercise of their duties being applauded by local political groups and individuals is not only sick and disgusting, it is dangerous and must be called out in our community as aberrant behavior.

    The Nevada County Tea Party, CABPRO, prominent members of the Nevada County GOP, and local spokespeople for libertarian and property rights causes, have been touting this behavior as acceptable.

    This behavior is not acceptable and should not be acceptable from anyone who claims a position of leadership in a civilized society that is ruled by law.

    Make no mistake about it, when people claim to be “Constitutional” and them condone aiming rifles at the heads of people, particularly law enforcement officers, to solve their problems, they are liars and condoning lawbreakers.

    One cannot say they support the Constitution and then support vigilantism.

    The string of hateful, inaccurate, accusatory, and at times racist rhetoric being brought to residents of Nevada County by the Tea Party and their allies, is a calculated attempt to threaten and intimidate the public into accepting their interpretation of law, and a calculated tactic to attempt to increase their political power in our community.

    Make no mistake about it they have a first amendment right to free speech; but that does not mean that opponents of such values do not also have a right to criticize them for the content of that speech.

    Common sense, and American values of equal protection, democratic governance, and fair play require that we call this behavior out, and punish the supporters of these values by denying them positions of leadership.

    1. ““Storm Over Rangelands” by Wayne Hage” if you have a copy of that book, its worth a small fortune.
      Congresswoman Helen (salmon can’t be endangered, I can buy them at Safeway) Chenoweth. She was something.
      Of course now we have the current bunch of right wing crazies like the Congressman from Georgia Paul Broun, who sits on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, with his take on evolution as “lies straight from the pit of hell.” I can understand how ranchers don’t like the government. I don’t understand people like Paul Brown who seem as primitive in their thinking as rural Afghanistan men who don’t want girls to go to school and learn how to read. The right wing conservative types sure say the darndest things. It could be funny, if it wasn’t so sad.

  4. And what is it about these guys and their fascination with uniforms? I thought the yellow t-shirts of the Protect Our Property Rights group were over the top, only to be confronted years later by the same people in the red T-shirts of the Tea Party. Why don’t they just get right down to brass tacks and don the brown shirts that they so clearly crave?

  5. Yes, and here’s hard-right blogger George Rebane, attending a John Birch Society event featuring the Agenda 21 “conspiracy” and criticizing our county supervisors for denying the impact. Our Sheriff was there too: “Last Wednesday evening we attended a John Birch Society event here at the Nevada City Elks Lodge (pictured). William Jasper was promoting his new book The United Nations EXPOSED and also gave a talk on Agenda21. It was a well-attended gathering that additionally featured Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal. Present also was a contingent of liberals including RR reader and commenter Mr Doug Keachie taking pictures of everything (here). The talk was about the brave new world being planned for us, and was given in a very professional manner using extensive quotes and citations of UN and ICLEI documents. The program is proceeding apace, with minimal pushback, as described by my numerous posts filed under RR’s Agenda21 category. A reason for its success is visible right here in our county when we recall the utter denial of Agenda21’s impact that is held by some of our county supervisors.”

  6. “But he saw too that in America the struggle was befogged by the fact that the worst Fascists were they who disowned the word ‘Fascism’ and preached enslavement to Capitalism under the style of Constitutional and Traditional Native American Liberty.” Sinclair Lewis, It Can’t Happen Here–1935

  7. Mrs. Freedle is correct that we should listen up and pay attention. I wonder if she realizes it is those of us who have been paying attention who are not being TP sheeple.

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