Meet the decorated cop who’s one of MAGA World’s favorite election conspirators End-shutdown

For more than a decade, Travis Vernier had a distinguished career as a police officer in Oklahoma City. He was commended for his bravery in rescuing a man from a burning car, and in 2021 he received the highest award in his department, the Medal of Honor.

But what no one knew until now is that for the past two and a half years, Vernier has led a double life as one of the biggest pushers of election conspiracy theories in the United States, while also advocating for police action against voters. parents than taking their children to drag shows, dismissing and downplaying reports of police brutality and supporting The murder of two unarmed men by Kyle Rittenhouse at a protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 2020.

Operating under the Election Wizard moniker, Vernier ran accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Telegram, Truth Social and Gettr, with a combined following of more than 900,000.

His posts and content were shared by a veritable who’s who of the MAGA sphere, including disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn, Pizzagate promoter Jack Posobiec, and former President Donald Trump himself. Meanwhile, Mike Lindell, the CEO of MyPillow who has funded much of the Big Lie networkhas an entire section on their website dedicated to Election Wizard discounts.

The election wizard became so influential in the world of Stop the Steal that he was invited to Mar-a-Lago for Trump’s announcement that he will run for president again in 2024.

Vernier told VICE News that he doesn’t see any conflict between his role as a police officer and his work pushing election conspiracies, although that’s not how he classifies his content.

“I never started Election Assistant with the intention of it being anything other than an outlet for me,” Vernier said. “What was frustrating for me coming out of the 2020 election is that in a lot of places on social media you couldn’t have a discussion about the issues that were being raised, the information that was being raised. You just couldn’t have that conversation. It was being suppressed. It was being censored.”

Vernier ran accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Telegram, Truth Social, and Gettr, with a combined following of more than 900,000.

Vernier claimed that the recent revelations of the so-called Twitter files confirmed his point, but the reality is that the files showed almost the exact opposite.

Now, Vernier has left the police force and launched his own law firm specializing in employment law and civil rights advocacy, according to his website. He has also announced that he is scheduled to teach a constitutional law course at his alma mater, Southern Nazarene University.

Vernier did not say whether he planned to include comments he made on his Election Wizard account in support of his course material. the “Constitutional Sheriff” movement—which is the idea that county sheriffs are essentially above the law and that their authority should supersede that of the federal government.

“I look forward to constitutionally faithful sheriffs establishing their counties as ‘Second Amendment Sanctuaries’ in the coming months,” Vernier wrote in June of last year under his Election Wizard moniker.

Southern Nazarene University did not respond to a request for comment on Vernier’s position on the constitution.

The Election Wizard account has operated anonymously since it launched in August 2020, just months before the presidential election. But researchers at Advance Democracy, a nonpartisan group that tracks extremism online, recently found evidence linking Vernier to the account.

When contacted about the report on Thursday, Vernier said he was not concerned that his real identity was linked to the account and that he had already planned to appear on a YouTube show in the coming weeks, which he said would have found out. anyway. .

Discovering Vernier’s identity was not difficult, since he used his personal email address, which he also included in his LinkedIn account, to register the Election Wizard website.

“I look forward to constitutionally faithful sheriffs establishing their counties as ‘Second Amendment Sanctuaries’ in the coming months.”

After graduating from SNU in 2012 with degrees in politics and law, Vernier joined the Oklahoma City Police Department. She rose to the rank of detective in recent years and for the last four years worked in the department’s Crimes Against Children Unit. In 2021, Vernier received the Medal of Honor, the highest honor bestowed by the department. He was also praised during his career for rescue a man from a burning car.

Towards the end of his time as a police officer, Vernier told VICE News that he decided to cast the Electoral Wizard character because he felt that, as a government employee, he didn’t have the same freedom to speak his mind as a private citizen.

The account quickly gained traction, and in October, Trump retweeted a video Vernier had created mocking the size of the crowds at then-candidate Joe Biden’s campaign rallies. The video has amassed more than 14 million views.

By November 2020, the Twitter account alone had gained more than 130,000 followers, prompting the nonpartisan group Accountable.US to feature “Election Wizard” on a November 2002 report about the most prominent conspiracy accounts shared by right-wing figures.

“[Election Wizard] has fueled election misinformation in numerous viral tweets that were also shared by Trump campaign officials,” the report states, also noting that Election Wizard follows numerous accounts that promote the QAnon conspiracy.

Among those sharing the posts of Election Wizard were former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell and former Assistant Treasury Secretary Monica Crowley. The posts were also shared by more extreme figures within the MAGA world, such as professional troll and promoter of the Pizzagate conspiracy, Jack Posobiec, while the Election Wizard Twitter account is followed by Trump’s social media manager, Dan Scavino. , Trump’s son Eric, and founder of conservative nonprofit Turning Point USA Charlie Kirk.

In January 2022, Mike Flynn, seen by many as the figurehead of the Big Lie movement, listed “Election Wizard” among his top 10 channels to follow on Telegram, citing it as an account that “provides solid insights and feedback.” and honest.”

In right-wing media circles, Election Wizard posts were also used to bolster conspiracy-filled articles about the election. far-right conspiracy rag The Gateway Expert has referenced Election Wizard in at least 66 articles while beard referenced the account’s posts in at least 20.

And while Vernier framed his posts as simply posting information for people to consume, his followers took them as a digital call to arms.

The day after the 2022 midterm elections, Vernier posted that change was needed to fix the problems wracking US election systems. One commenter responded: “We need war, we need death, destruction and brutality.”

Responses to Vernier’s posts, particularly on Telegram, are full of calls for violence and defense of civil war.

“It is completely illogical to leave [the U.S.] going so far shabby,” one user wrote a week after midterms, in response to another Election Wizard post. “Well, there is one option: civil war.”

Vernier framed his posts simply by posting information for people to consume. His followers took them as a digital call to arms.

Beyond pushing electoral conspiracies, Vernier was using his new profile to push a variety of far-right positions, such as the Demonization of children’s drag shows. “Every father who took his son to [a drag show in Dallas] should get a visit from the police and Texas Child Protective Services,” Vernier wrote on Telegram, Twitter and Truth Social.

Vernier defended his demonization of children’s drag shows when speaking to VICE News. Over the course of the last six months, these events have been increasingly in the crosshairs of far-right protesters.

Vernier also downplayed police brutality. In the aftermath of the horrific shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, he wrote on Telegram that police were slow to respond to the shooting due to activism against police brutality.

“The inaction of the police in Texas does not surprise me. It’s been going on for years since Furgeson [sic] but it got worse after the 2020 riots, thanks to the left,” Vernier wrote. “Many police officers are afraid to act, worried that they will be hung out to dry. So they stand by and wait for orders from someone higher up.”

Vernier also claimed that the issue of police killings of black people was being exaggerated. In response to a tweet from right-wing agitator Andy Ngo, which included alleged images of “BLM rioters,” Vernier wrote: “Police shootings are one of the smallest problems in the black community. Ending police-involved shootings would make no difference to about 99% of black lives.”

Vernier, who still posts regularly on his social media channels, has made money spreading conspiracy theories, primarily from his affiliation deal with MyPillow. He has considered working full-time as an election conspirator, he told VICE News, but for now he is focusing on his new career as a lawyer.

One of the first cases he argued after becoming a lawyer was an unfair dismissal case brought by two Tyson Foods employees. The complaint says Tyson discriminated against employees who requested religious exemptions from the company’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy.

However the complaint filed in court contains false anti-vaccine claims, which incorrectly describe the COVID-19 vaccine as “experimental and harmful.” The complaint also falsely claims that vaccination “presents a greater risk of fatal spread of COVID-19 than asymptomatic spread.”

As an election wizard, Vernier focuses on the 2024 election, where he is poised to play a pivotal role in what has now become dominant strategy of the Republican Party to undermine people’s faith in the American elections.

“For me, Election Day is like the Super Bowl,” Vernier said. “I love just seeing the returns as they come in, getting reports on the ground from people. At some point, usually one or two in the morning, I wind it up, but that’s usually after a full 12 hours. I think people really appreciate that. There aren’t many other accounts on the right side of politics that provide that kind of continuous feed on Election Day.”

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