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Eric Molitor was acquitted on charges related to the Gretchen Whitmer kidnapping plot. Now he’s running for sheriff




CNN

man He was acquitted last year of the charges Linked to the 2020 plot Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer kidnapped He is now looking to unseat the current county mayor.

Eric Molitor has filed to run in the Republican primary next August against Trent Taylor, the mayor of red Wexford County in northern Michigan. He told CNN his main message is to ensure “minimum government intrusion and interference in our lives.”

The 40-year-old from Cadillac, Michigan, describes himself as a “big political activist” and says he had considered running for township supervisor, but a conversation he and his brother had with Taylor last month inspired him to enter the race for sheriff instead.

“I walked out of there with nothing but the utmost respect for how he handled the situation because we had really tough questions for someone running for office, and (Taylor) didn’t hesitate,” he said.

But Molitor said Taylor told them he would enforce the state’s recently passed “red flag” law on gun safety, which Molitor believes is “largely unconstitutional.”

the law, Signed last year by Whitmer, a Democrat, makes it easier for law enforcement to confiscate firearms from people believed to pose a danger to themselves or others. He was among A Gun safety laws series It was signed by Michigan’s governor after a series of deadly mass shootings, including in Michigan State University In February 2023, which left three dead and a number injured.

Taylor told CNN that he believes he is constitutionally obligated to enforce state laws and that it would be “reckless” not to do so, Molitor said.

“He has the right to run,” Taylor, who is seeking a third four-year term, said of his rival. “I hope the citizens of County Wexford realize that I, along with my team, have done a good job and will cast their vote for me in the August primary.”

In September, a jury found Molitor not guilty on charges of providing material support for a terrorist act and possession of a firearm when committing or attempting to commit a felony.

State prosecutors alleged that Molitor and others targeted Whitmer’s vacation home in northern Michigan and conducted surveillance on her home.

Molitor and his co-defendants, who were also acquitted in the fall trial, were the last of a group of 14 people tried in state and federal courts in connection with the kidnapping plot. Ultimately, nine were convicted or pleaded guilty in the case, and five were found guilty He was acquitted.

Molitor told CNN that his experience opened his eyes to the flaws in the judicial system.

“I had no idea how our system actually worked until I went through it at that level,” he said. “It was crazy.”

Molitor said he and others feel wronged by the regime, including those who were acquitted of charges related to… January 6, 2021, attack on the US CapitolThey have a “duty” to “step up” and enact reform.

“Apathy is what got us where we are today. We have to be the change we want to be. And, you know, sitting there and saying someone should do that is very unfair when we are the ones personally affected by the issues that we have seen.”

Although Molitor said his experience changed some of his views, he dismissed the idea that he was “anti-government” or “anti-law enforcement” altogether, explaining that he felt called to be “an arbiter between the people and the powers that govern them.” He is.”

Currently, in order to run for sheriff in Michigan, candidates must live and be eligible to vote in the county in which they are seeking a four-year term.

The Michigan House of Representatives passed legislation late last year that requires new candidates for county sheriff to be a licensed law enforcement officer or certified corrections officer with at least five years of experience. It is currently under referral by a state Senate committee. Democrats control both chambers.

The Michigan Sheriffs’ Association supports the bill. Dan Pfannes, the group’s deputy director, said the organization had hoped it would be signed into law before last month’s candidate filing deadlines for the 2024 races.

“One of the things we were hoping to do is put these qualifications into place sooner rather than later,” he said, noting that he believes the legislation is still on a “good path” toward eventual passage.

Pfannes explained that the Sheriffs’ Association believes the bill will be “part of efforts to strengthen our profession.”

The organization did not comment on Molitor’s nomination, citing group policy. Molitor has no background in law enforcement. He previously worked as a subcontractor in the security field.

The Michigan Democratic Party responded to Molitor’s nomination earlier this month, calling him a “MAGA Republican,” a reference to the former president. President Donald TrumpSlogan: “Make America Great Again.” Trump did not endorse him in the primaries.

“It is clear that there is no line Michigan Republicans will not cross — this candidate is the latest in a long list of MAGA MIGOP extremists competing at various levels of the ballot,” the Michigan Democratic Party said in a statement. She also mentioned Michelle Lundgren, one of the 16 people face charges Related to a conspiracy to subvert the 2020 election in Michigan, who is now running in the Republican primary for a seat in the state House of Representatives.

While Molitor currently identifies as a Republican, he said he previously aligned himself with the “independent liberal” ideology. He said he voted for Whitmer and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, also a Democrat, when they first sought office in 2018.

“I saw two strong women, and I said, ‘Let’s see what the hell these two women can do,'” he recalls.

He now sides with the Republican Party because he believes conservatives are “more concerned with protecting all rights,” specifically pointing to freedom of speech. As a major issue.

Molitor said he supported Trump in 2016 and 2020, and plans to support the presumptive Republican nominee again in November.

CNN’s Lauren del Valle, Veronica Straqualorsi, Josh Campbell and Michelle Watson contributed to this report.



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