UPDATE: It appears the Colorado Freedom Convoy organizers are hoping for a more tasteful presence at tomorrow’s event. An administrator of the group’s Telegram channel posted this announcement earlier today:
A brisk morning wind kept the flags flying high as CU Regent and gubernatorial hopeful Heidi Ganahl delivered her stump speech to a crowd rallying in support of the anti-vax, anti-mandate trucker convoy last Saturday.
Standard American flags and yellow “Don’t Tread On Me” Gadsden pennants were the most popular, but others showed a more extreme faction of the already conservative audience.
Unfurling among the Stars & Stripes could be seen flags reading “Trump Won” and “Fuck Biden,” as well as a green and white “Appeal to Heaven” flag similar to those carried by insurrectionists on Jan. 6.
These less-savory flags weren’t visible in Ganahl’s own tweet from the event, but they were in the video shared by Charity McPike, a Colorado Springs resident linked to a pair of far-right conspiracy groups: FEC United and the QAnon-linked election fraud conspiracy group U.S. Election Integrity Plan. Until being contacted for this story, McPike’s Facebook page listed her as the El Paso County captain of USEIP (it now reads former captain). McPike posted her video of the event to Facebook, writing, “Awesome showing of Christian Conservative Patriots at the kick-off rally for Colorado Freedom Truckers Convoy in Monument Colorado!”
In response to a Facebook message inquiring as to whether USEIP coordinated with Ganahl’s campaign in advance of the event and whether the candidate’s reluctance to discuss USEIP’s primary issue — the 2020 election results — publicly, raises any concerns for its members, McPike responded that she’s neither a member nor represents USEIP, saying that USEIP isn’t a membership organization. She expressed support for the candidates and particularly their positions on election integrity, and promoted another trucker rally coming up this Thursday.
“While I coordinated the El Paso county voter verification canvassing, I am not a member, nor do I represent USEIP in any capacity,” said McPike. “Separately, I would not want to attempt to speak for any of the candidates. I will say that many of us involved in the rally believe strongly in these candidates and their positions where Election Integrity is concerned. Each of these have conveyed concern, in part because a significant number of citizens have expressed concern with the validity of the 2020 Presidential election. I also understand that they agree investigations should take place at the appropriate legislative level, once adequate evidence is introduced in the formal manner.”
McPike also said she was thrilled with the turnout, especially considering the coordinators threw it together in less than a week. “Thursday’s Freedom Trucker send off event should be even larger in scale with multiple rallies taking place across the front range, from Peyton to Fort Collins,” McPike added.
9News anchor Kyle Clark tweeted about the event at the time, noting that the organizers opposed all mandates, including ending the Emergency Powers Act, invoked in 2020 by then-President Trump allowing the federal government to take immediate actions to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
Ganahl did not respond to an inquiry as to whether any of the flags’ messages raised concerns for her or whether her campaign had coordinated with USEIP in advance of the event. The article will be updated with any response received.
Last December, Ganahl praised USEIP at an event in Durango, telling supporters the group was doing “great things” and encouraging them to sign up as volunteers.
USEIP’s primary activity is sending dozens of conspiracists door-to-door in counties all across the state, in search of “phantom voters” they believe illegally participated in the 2020 election.
McPike formerly captained USEIP’s El Paso County chapter. USEIP chat logs from last summer show her asking the group’s armed members to share their cell numbers with her before they went knocking on the doors of Colorado voters’ homes. Speaking last September with fellow USEIP leaders Shawn Smith and Ashe Epp on a religious right panel, McPike justified the practice by saying the results of the 2020 election aren’t reality.
“We’re not seeking out fraud but we know it’s there, because we all woke up on Nov. 4 to the same reality, which wasn’t reality,” she said.
McPike previously ran the El Paso County chapter of another far-right conspiracist group, FEC United.
Last October, after the Colorado Times Recorder broke the news that Colorado GOP chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown previously headed FEC United, Ganahl’s campaign made a rare statement to the media, telling 9News that Ganahl has never had any formal ties to the group.
Besides McPike’s affilation, USEIP and FEC United have one disturbing thing in common; leaders of both groups have called for the hanging of Colorado elected officials they believe are involved with election fraud. FEC United founder Joe Oltmann has made repeated statements about wanting to build gallows for his list of traitors which includes Colorado Governor Jared Polis and Secretary of State Jena Griswold. USEIP’s Shawn Smith told an enthusiastic audience that Griswold deserved to hang if she’s guilty of the election crimes he insists without evidence that she has committed.
Several other El Paso County Republican candidates joined Ganahl for the morning rally in Monument. Rebecca Keltie, who is primarying U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn to represent the Fifth Congressional District, El Paso County Assessor Steve Schleiker, who is running for County Clerk, and Greg Maxwell, who wants to be El Paso Sheriff, all spoke at the event.
McPike also recorded Ganahl’s second speech of the day. The candidate delivered another brief stump speech mostly to the same audience after they drove from the morning rally in Monument to the destination, Sedalia’s Wide Open Saloon, the same location where Ganahl “re-launched” her campaign earlier this year. While broadcasting, McPike offered her own commentary on the need to elect Ganahl, saying, “Support Heidi, guys. Soros money is going to come out for Polis and we’ve got to get rid of him.”
Ganahl and McPike both choose the same hat for the day’s events: a trucker cap that reads, “I am freaking essential,” referencing the state “essential business” exemption during the pandemic lockdown back in 2020.