'A dangerous normalization of lunacy': Michael Flynn and a Proud Boys leader are now poll watchers in Florida

'A dangerous normalization of lunacy': Michael Flynn and a Proud Boys leader are now poll watchers in Florida

On Thursday, September 8, the Sarasota County Republican Party chose some new poll watchers — and the far-right choices include conspiracy theorist and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and James Hoel, a local leader of the Proud Boys. Journalist Michael Daly decries these choices in an op-ed published by the Daily Beast on September 12, slamming them as “a decidedly dangerous normalization of lunacy.”

“Flynn is nationally known as a retired general who has championed the Big Lie about the 2020 election, at one point urging military action to overturn it,” Daly explains. “He is also known for having been convicted of lying to the FBI while he was briefly President Trump’s national security advisor and for having subsequently received a presidential pardon. He has ascribed to various ‘Deep State’ conspiracy theories…. As if that were not scary enough, they also elected James Hoel, a local leader of the Proud Boys.”

Daly continues, “Hoel and fellow Proud Boy Nicholas Radovich were active in the August 23 Sarasota County School Board election that saw a longstanding 3-2 liberal majority become a 4-1 conspiracy minority. Radovich showed up at the victory party in a Proud Boys hat and t-shirt and flashed a White power sign during a group picture. The one reelected incumbent conservative, Bridget Ziegler, subsequently denounced the Proud Boys as a ‘menace.’”

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Daly notes that “several people at the meeting” on September 8 “posed for photos with Flynn that were subsequently posted on the Facebook page for Sarasota Watchdogs, which is associated with Hoel and the Proud Boys.”

“The Sarasota Republican Party did not respond to repeated requests for comment,” according to Daly. “Flynn also did not respond to a request for comment. The Daily Beast did get a response from the retired general’s brother, Joe Flynn, who sometimes serves as a kind of gatekeeper for him. ‘F*** off,’ Joe Flynn said in an e-mail. ‘Quote me.’”

Michael Flynn discussed the developments in Sarasota County during a September 10 appearance on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast, saying, “As long as I got a breath left in me, I am going to continue to push this message of local action and national impact. And now I, now I wanna be able to tell people when they say, when somebody says, well, (what) are you doing, what are you doing specifically? I'm gonna, I am now part of the Republican executive committee for the Sarasota GOP. And I also am volunteering to be a poll watcher in the upcoming elections, particularly in this county, in the state of Florida.”

Daly points out that Michael Flynn “once called for the military to stage a coup to prevent a legitimate transfer of power as set forth in the Constitution that he has repeatedly sworn to uphold.”

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“As kids, we are taught that any American can grow up to become president,” Daly writes. “We now witness proof that the Republican Party has become such a haven for lunacy that even someone who sought to scuttle a presidential election can become a poll watcher.”

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