Rep. Kelly Keisling (R-Byrdstown) sent an email from his state email account to constituents containing a rumor that Obama and the Department of Homeland Security are planning a series of events that could lead to the imposition of "martial law" and delay the election. Among the events hypothesized in the email is a staged assassination attempt on the president that would lead to civil unrest in urban areas and martial law.
Keisling appears to have forwarded a more widely circulated email from Joe Angione, a Florida-based conservative blogger. Angione prefaces the rumor by saying it has not been confirmed but likewise notes it has not been denied. Angione also writes that people need to work to prevent the rumor from becoming reality.
The conspiracy theory started with an article written by Doug Hammon and posted on CanadaFreePress.com, which he said arose from conversations he had with an informant within the Department of Homeland Security.
The Constitution Party of Florida posted the same Angione story on their website this week. Party chairman Mark Pilling wrote a note saying that he believes some sort of unrest will occur this year.
"Personally, I believe something will happen the last quarter of this year. Financial unrest or another false flag event that causes civil unrest. Now is the time for all Americans to band together against the financial influences that are running our puppets in Washington and the mass media that keeps us distracted to that and their treasonous actions. Here is the rumor. Based on alot[sic] of factors, I think it has potential. Divide and Conquer. Below, there is a link to one of the other more recent false flag events."
Keisling's assistant, Frankie Anderson, confirmed that the email was sent "at Keisling's request" from a state account under the name of Holt Whitt, who is identified in the email as Keisling's assistant. Anderson said he is filling in for Whitt.
Anderson said that Keisling did not offer an explanation for why he wanted the email sent. It went to residents across the 38th district, which includes Clay, Jackson, Pickett and Scott Counties, along with part of Anderson County. Keisling has not returned messages left at his Byrdstown insurance office, and there was no answer at his home.
Janet Moore, one of the recipients of Keisling's email, said she called the lawmaker Tuesday morning to express her disagreement with his decision to send the email. Moore, who lives in an adjoining legislative district in rural Tennessee, told HuffPost that Keisling told her that the rumor was "pretty ridiculous, isn't it?"
When she asked Keisling why he sent the email, if he found it ridiculous, she said that Keisling told her, "I wouldn't put anything past anybody."
Anderson did say that Keisling regularly sends out emails to his constituents using the state account. A copy of the email obtained by HuffPost did not contain an explanation from either Keisling or Anderson. The subject line of the email is "FW: Unbelievable election rumor....." The email also contained a note below Whitt's contact information from a woman identified only as Ruby, who may have sent the email to Keisling. Ruby's name and contact information were not included.
"PLEASE SCROLL DOWN," Ruby wrote. "Something to think and PRAY about. Interesting times...Blessings, Ruby."
Keisling, who owns an insurance agency, was first elected in 2010. In an online profile on KnoxNews.com, Keisling noted that he favors job creation, allowing voters to pick local school directors and that he opposed abortion. Keisling, a former Pickett County executive, serves on the agriculture and transportation committees.
UPDATE: 8/1/2012 -- The Tennessean reported Wednesday that Keisling released a statement Wednesday morning through a Republican legislative spokesperson expressing regret for sending the email to his constituents.
"Earlier this week, I forwarded an email from my legislative office that should not have been sent out. The message was inappropriate for distribution. I regret the error and pledge to be more cautious regarding the information distributed from my office in the future."
I am just...baffled. I mean...really? REALLY?