The official Twitter account of the Oregon Republican party tweeted Saturday night that a “heavily armed militia” had laid “siege” to the state’s Capitol building as “Senate Democrats cower in fear.” But as it turns out, it seems the Oregon GOP Twitter account used the wrong photo.
Instead of showing citizens wielding weapons over the weekend, the photo — a still taken from video broadcast on a local television station — appears to show a protest earlier this week by the logging industry against House Bill 2020, an ambitious cap and trade initiative.
The misleading tweet is the latest in an escalating fight between state Democrats and Republicans, some of whom have reportedly fled the state after refusing to vote on the climate bill (the same one state loggers were protesting).
Screenshot of the Oregon GOP tweet claiming an armed militia was outside the state Capitol on Saturday, June 22, 2019.
The same image used by the state’s GOP Twitter account was found on a June 19 article published by local news site KPTV.com by FOX 12 staff in Salem, Oregon, following the climate bill passing the house vote earlier this week.
The bill was supposed to head to the Senate next. But state senators did not have the chance to vote on the climate initiative because some senate Republicans on Thursday apparently fled the state to prevent a quorum, which meant that too few lawmakers were present to hold the vote.
In response, Gov. Kate Brown (D) dispatched the Oregon police to track down the Republican lawmakers. And in turn, an Oregon militia group called the III% (the Three Percenters) vowed to provide the Republicans with “security, transportation and refuge” and have promised to do “whatever it takes to keep these Senators safe.”
The Oregon Capitol building was then shut down on Saturday due to a “possible militia threat.” A group of local Republicans were expected to protest inside the Capitol yesterday and anti-government groups, including the Oregon Three Percenters, threatened to join in support, thereby prompting state police to recommend the closure.
Some people still showed up though, but as a tweet from a local reporter showed, it did not seem to be nearly the size suggested by the GOP’s Saturday night tweet.
“There was a small smattering of groups here that either didn’t get the message, or had one of their own to deliver to leadership,” wrote Dan McCarthy of KATU News.
With the doors closed to the Capitol on Saturday, Marion County Republicans canceled their rally today in Salem. There was a small smattering of groups here that either didn’t get the message, or had one of their own to deliver to leadership @KATUNews pic.twitter.com/L0Vq7HpSCP
— Dan McCarthy (@DanMcKATU) June 22, 2019
According to KATU News, the Senate is set to convene at 10 a.m. local time on Sunday and “there should be a much larger crowd outside the Capitol.”
The runaway Republicans are facing a $500 per day per person fine until they return. But fundraising efforts are already popping up to support the lawmakers in hiding.
A new political action committee (PAC) was launched on June 20 — the Stand with our Senators PAC — to which Knut Buehler, the Republican nominee for governor during the 2018 midterms, donated $5,000. A GoFundMe also reportedly raised $30,000 in just 24-hours.