Silicon Valley leaders are demanding a local Republican elected official resign following a series of Facebook posts inciting violence Wednesday, just as a pro-Trump mob took over the U.S. Capitol in a dangerous attempt to overturn the election.
Phil Reynolds, who is an elected member of the Santa Clara County Republican Party’s Central Committee, publicly posted: “The war has begun! Citizens take arms! FREEDOM SHALL PREVAIL!!! WE MUST DEFEND OUR CONSTITUTION TO THE DEATH!”
Earlier in the day, he wrote, “Drumroll please….. Civil War or No Civil War?”
He ended his series of Facebook posts on Wednesday with a goodbye.
“NO FURTHER COMMENTS FROM ME! SIGNING OFF ALL SOCIAL MEDIA!” he wrote close to 1 p.m. Wednesday.
Reynolds serves in an elected position on the county Republican Party’s 24-member Central Committee, which is the governing body of the party. Reynolds, an Air Force veteran, previously ran for Campbell City Council and for Congress against Rep. Anna Eshoo last year. He didn’t make it past the March primary, coming in fourth place in a 5-person race.
He also served as a Campbell Planning Commissioner for 8 years, according to his LinkedIn profile, and owns a real estate management company.
Democratic Assemblymember Evan Low on Friday called on the local Republican Party to denounce the violence.
Will you denounce the violence one of your members incited, @svgop? This is an elected #Republican official here in Santa Clara County calling for civil war. Resign now. Enough! #Accountability pic.twitter.com/j9MFOlzLDq
— Evan Low (@Evan_Low) January 9, 2021
“This is an elected #Republican official here in Santa Clara County calling for civil war,” Low tweeted. “Resign now. Enough!”
Santa Clara County Supervisor Susan Ellenberg joined the call for Reynolds’ resignation.
“I fervently denounce this sentiment & am dismayed to see it expressed by an elected official in our County, our district,” she tweeted, adding that Reynolds should be held accountable and forced to resign. “There’s no place for this clarion call in our (community) or county.”
In an interview Saturday, Reynolds told San José Spotlight he was “very emotional” when he wrote the Facebook posts, but does not regret them.
“I’m a veteran. My father was a vet. My grandfather was a vet,” he said. “My blood boils when I hear anything anti-American. I’m not a violent person and I don’t ever want to incite violence… I’m not taking it back. I spoke my piece at the time.”
Reynolds recently attended a “stop the steal” rally in Los Gatos. The rallies, including one in San Jose this week, amplify false claims that voter fraud cost President Donald Trump the election — a claim that’s been widely rejected by judges and election officials.
Still, Reynolds said he believes the election was “stolen” from Donald Trump and that his supporters need to fight back. “We have to band together as a free people to remain a sovereign nation and take whatever measures necessary to remain a free nation because someone always wants to take that freedom away,” he added.
He doubled down by calling for the resignations of Susan Ellenberg and Evan Low, who he said he once considered a friend.
“I’m really disgusted with Evan Low and Susan Ellenberg jumping on this bandwagon to get attention, calling me to resign and the central committee to denounce my comments,” he said. “Is that the best Evan can do? He’s in a high position and we have a state that’s crumbling. We have the worst education system. We have a homeless population out of control. And Evan Low is more worried monitoring Facebook and trying to censor people?
“They don’t have the guts to call me one-on -one. They have to go to the press, put their posts on there, jump up on their soap boxes,” he added. “They’re calling for my resignation. I’ll tell you what, I’m calling for their resignations.”
Low fired back that Reynolds is not a private citizen and must be held to a higher standard and responsibility. His Facebook posts have the potential to invoke violence and bloodshed, the assemblyman added, as seen in the past week.
“If you think this is just an argument about harmless Facebook posts, you can see that you have rioters trying to overthrow the government bearing arms. Innocent American lives lost because of this,” Low told San José Spotlight. “This is not harmless. This is detrimental, radical dialogue that incentivizes the type of violence we see in our community. Shame on him.”
Low said Reynolds is deflecting by bringing up the state’s struggles and there’s a public arena to discuss policies on homelessness or education.
“I hope this is a call to action that the average citizen in our community should know who their local, state and federal representatives are to hold them to account,” Low said. “These people are getting elected.”
A top ranking Republican leader said he can’t force Reynolds to resign from the committee.
“He’s an elected member and no one can force him to resign,” said Shane Patrick Connolly, chair of the Santa Clara County Republican Party. “He ran for election. He won. He can’t be forced to resign. We don’t have that option.”
When asked whether he’ll denounce Reynolds, Connolly said the party denounces political violence — not social media posts.
“I’m not going to get into the denunciation game,” he said. “The thing we denounce is behavior that is antithetical to our values — which is political violence and we are consistent with that. People say stuff (on social media) all the time. I would spend all day basically responding to provocations. We also stand up for free speech — these things can both be true.”
Low, however, said the party needs to take responsibility for the words and actions of its leaders.
“If the GOP says they condemn this violence, they need to look within their own leadership that has tainted the public discourse fundamental to our democracy,” he said.
Contact Ramona Giwargis at [email protected] or follow @RamonaGiwargis on Twitter.