By Miriam Raftery
Photo via a recent "Tea Time" video for the Tea Party on Assemblyman Voepel's Facebook page
January 13, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) -- Days after insurrectionists violently took over the nation’s capitol, threatening lives of legislators and resulting in five deaths including a police officer, statements made by East County Assemblyman Randy Voepel are drawing sharp criticisms, including calls for his resignation or expulsion from the Legislature.
Voepel, also a former Santee Mayor, said of the insurrection, “This is Lexington and Concord. First shots fired against tyranny. Tyranny will follow in the aftermath of the Biden swear-in on January 20," the San Diego Union-Tribune reported on January 10.
That prompted numerous posts on the Republican Assemblyman’s Facebook page overwhelmingly condemning his statements, including several calls for him to resign and an organization that promotes national security after 9/11 urging the Legislature to expel Voepel.
John Russo, who said he came from a military family, wrote, “I do not respect your attempt to analogize the mob violence that desecrated our Capitol last week in an attempt to intimidate the Congress of the United States to the actions of the Founders of this nation. The Founders would have been horrified by what happened last week, and would have dealt sternly with those who participated in as well as those who incited—an attack on the republican and democratic form of government that the Revolutionary War generation left us as a legacy.” Russo then called on Voepel to resign.
While as of today no one on Voepel’s Facebook page overtly defended his remarks, some deflected by blaming Democrats for not being forceful enough in condemning other violence. A poster calling himself VivEric Rader wrote, “And democrats need to repent of their entire 2020 hypocritical year of never condemning cops being murdered, assaulted, buildings burned, and encouraging rioters. Without repentance they have no place to judge and are hypocritical tyrants.” (In fact, some Democrats did condemn rioting and other violence, though not all.)
The Truman National Security Project has sent a letter to the state Assembly calling for Voepel to be expelled. The group, founded after 9/11 to advocate for tough, smart national security solutions” includes veterans, civilians, policy experts and political professionals. Their letter calls Voepel’s words “an explicit glorification of the insurrection and direct incitement of further violence. Assemblymember Voepel is both an elected official and a veteran of the U.S. military. We believe that he has violated his sworn oath and must be held accountable.”
Voepel later tried to walk-back his statements, posting on Facebook, “I do not condone or support the violence and lawlessness that took place on Wednesday, January 6th, at our nation’s capital. The loss of life, theft of government property, and blatant disregard for law and order is reprehensible and unnecessary, and I offer my condolences and prayers for the families reeling from the recent loss of their loved ones.” But he added that the actions reflect “the deep division currently facing our nation. That is why it is especially important that each of us work extra hard to heal the divisions between us.”
Voepel has previously drawn criticisms of alleged “stolen valor” or falsely claiming to have earned military medals that in some cases were not backed up by military records. He was also exposed boasting on tape at the Capitol of military exploits that did not occur, falsely claiming to have been in a boat in a jungle with an elite force in Vietnam, when in fact Voepel was a sailor stationed offshore.