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Randy Fletcher Yuba County District 5 Supervisor Candidate Linked to CultEric Salerno Salem-News.com
It has been my experience that when a candidate dodges a question or interview that there is something their hiding.
(SACRAMENTO) - These past few months of March-May are exciting times for a candidate running for office. It's a chance to get out and explore the community and hear from the people who live there.
In Yuba County, there are four candidates competing for the District 5 Supervisor seat held by long time incumbent Hal Stocker.
However, out of the competing candidates, only one has recently been accused of being tied to a religious cult located in the Yuba Foothills called the Fellowship of Friends.
Recently, in an opinion column article of the Territorial Dispatch, a woman named Liouse Reid wrote a piece exposing candidate Randy Fletcher as the golden boy of the Fellowship of Friends.
She claimed that the cult was looking to expand it's grasp of local politics and a Supervisor on its side would be a strong ally.
Initially, after reading the opinion article, I admit I was skeptical. But the investigative reporter inside me wanted answers. On Wednesday, May 7th 2014, I contacted Randy Fletcher's office to see about interviewing him on a variety of subjects. My phone call was returned by Crystal Martin who said she was Randy's campaign manager.
She was concerned that a local reporter would be interested in a story about cult issues and not other issues facing the county. I assured her that I intended to conduct a full scope interview if I was allowed.
Crystal said she would speak with Randy and see if he was interested, sure enough about a half hour later Randy Fletcher himself called and agreed to my interview.
He asked if I could come down that afternoon to start the interview, but I had pressing business and we agreed that 2pm Thursday would be a better time.
I prepared an interview with questions on jobs, water, private property rights, and left the cult accusations for last as not to make either of us uncomfortable. I arrived at his office at 1:30 p.m. just to be a little early, when I arrived Randy Fletcher was nowhere to be found.
His secretary told me he had decided to cancel our interview and tried to call me.
After checking my voicemail I had a message from Randy stating he had slept on it, and decided not to partake in the interview after all. He cited that he did not want the story to have any more attention than it had already received. I thought that was extremely bizarre given the day before he was rearing to go and wanted me to come down that afternoon.
I really wanted to allow Randy Fletcher the opportunity to respond not only to these cult allegations, but also allow him to voice his plan for his community.
This is where I began to search for information that either confirmed or discredited the claims made against him. I was shocked at what I found over the course of the rest of the day.
My first priority is always to find the truth and whether good or bad, bring it out.
First I visited Randy Fletcher's campaign page on Facebook and found photos of him with the exact same men from the Territorial Dispatch article.
That is Randy Fletcher (upper right) with Steven Dambeck who is the President of Apollo Olive Oil, a Fellowship of Friends owned company here in Oregon House, Ca.
To The far left is Randy Fletcher, and what was very interesting was the man in the middle Greg Holman, who just happens to be the President of the Fellowship of Friends.
Another key figure is the man to the far right Charles Sharpe, a wealthy retired man who is in the Fellowship of Friends. Charles Sharpe is one of Fletcher's second largest financial supporters. Information proving this has been obtained through the county elections office 460 financial contributions records. (See below)
Many people in the community seem to support Randy Fletcher and say he's a great guy, and I have no doubt that he is. At the start of this article, I was convinced that he was not a part of any cult activity, least of all accepting financial contributions from its members.
Unfortunately what I found was completely opposite, it has been my experience that when a candidate dodges a question or interview that there is something their hiding.
If they were innocent then their would be an overwhelming need to explain and prove the accusation false. My follow up calls to Randy Fletcher's office for at least a one line quote confirming or denying these facts were not returned.
Eric Salerno is a Salem-News.com writer from Butte County, California. His background is with State and Federal Agencies assisting in recovery efforts in disaster stricken states.
In 2008 he began advocating for medical marijuana in his home state. This journey began after the supervisors in his district of Butte County enacted a moratorium on legal Prop. 215 patients rights to access and grow their own medicine. He was one of only 10 people to show up at the meeting and voice his concerns with their actions.
That year a coalition of mores than 300 residents was formed and a Vote NO on measure A campaign began. These residents of Butte County united to stop the interference of the county.
This campaign was successful with a large voter drive initiative and media campaign securing 55% of the voters saying NO on measure A.
Today Eric works endlessly from Southern California to Northern California advising and implementing political tactics, to ensure every Californian has the right to access legal safe medicine under the law.
You can write to Eric at this address: Ericsalerno@sbcglobal.net
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