Marcus Ruiz Evans plotted to file ballot initiative on behalf of Iran in exchange for funding, CalExit ‘Embassy’ in Tehran
The former CEO and President of the organization stepped down for unrelated reasons last November, but continues misrepresenting YesCalifornia in public, disregarding a notice to cease and desist.
In the midst of controversy surrounding false allegations perpetuated about me by the media in 2017, I stepped down as president of YesCalifornia, the political organization I founded during the height of the Tea Party movement which was rooted in the type of classical liberalism championed by our Founding Fathers.
As it turns out, the false allegations that I had ties to the Russian government have since been proven untrue. Nonetheless, my decision to take a break from politics and spend some time teaching overseas was too much of a distraction for our fledgling campaign at a time the nation was focused on allegations of the Trump campaign colluding with Russia to win the election—allegations which have also since been debunked.
Marcus Ruiz Evans replaced me as president that year and remained in that position until the fall of last year, even though an investigation by the State of California’s election watchdog in 2019 cleared me of any wrongdoing, including claims that I accepted and laundered foreign contributions from Russia. I would have had grounds to sue Rachel Maddow and MSNBC for slander and libel, however, public figures must prove “malicious intent” in their libel lawsuits against members of the press. That’s historically a high bar to pass.
I recently returned to my position as the head of YesCalifornia—something made possible by my departure from Russia. As the “new” head of YesCalifornia, I recently made the decision to end the CalExit campaign altogether and redirect its resources to advocate for a national divorce instead. This is because I came to see that the campaign I started on the basis of classical liberalism had been taken over by the wretched philosophy of modern liberalism and woke politics, and I do not want to share a country with the radical left.
In writing its next chapter, YesCalifornia must disassociate itself with its former president, Marcus Ruiz Evans, and to condemn in the strongest terms possible his desperate attempts to earn media attention—even if it meant doing the bidding of the Iranian government in exchange for financing, media attention, legal support, and recognition in the form of a new ‘CalExit’ embassy in Tehran.
Mr. Evans’ outreach effort with Iran was made possible through an Iranian agent named Mostafa Afzalzadeh, who works for Al Jazeera TV, and an Iranian-American lawyer based in Los Angeles.
I was never one to shy away from a controversial stunt to bring attention to our campaign. In fact, I helped Mr. Evans write a speech he delivered to the people of the Islamic Republic of Iran via YouTube, in which he elaborated on why California should become an independent country and what that might mean for other countries, including Iran, where the video was apparently a hit and broadcast on local media, where Evans additionally did an interview with Iran’s Channel 5 TV.
In an e-mail Mr. Evans received from Mr. Afzalzadeh on April 14, 2020 which Evans forwarded to me, the reporter and contact for Iran wrote:
“Our interview had a big reflect on Iranian media. now [sic] we can go to the next step. I have a very good proposal for you inorder [sic] to open an embasy [sic] for the movment [sic] in Iran.”
The story also generated media in the international press, which referred to a spinoff of YesCalifornia Mr. Evans helped create known as the California Freedom Coalition.
It was a feelgood attempt by Mr. Evans to contrast California and the United States, and to express his desire to “build bridges,” but what Mr. Evans was plotting to do in addition to that video statement was a bridge too far.
When he e-mailed me with his plan in December 2020, I decided to inject myself back into the organization’s leadership. I felt a personal obligation to prevent the organization I founded from going any further off the deep end than it already had with its adoption of modern liberalism and woke politics, but Mr. Evans had already been laying the groundwork for cooperation with Iran for months—a Persian foreign affairs policy group was tweeting about it back in April that year.
However, in his December 27, 2020, e-mail, Mr. Evans explained to me how he planned to get a lawyer on the YesCalifornia staff who would file amicus briefs and handle slander lawsuits on our behalf—something of interest to me considering all those false allegations about me had been recently proven untrue and there were many potential lawsuits I would have liked to have filed against a number of individuals who maliciously propagated allegations they knew were false but were politically convenient. Perhaps he believed this angle would entice me to go along with him.
Mr. Evans additionally believed this plan would bring a new donor on board that would fully fund a ballot initiative campaign, which in California are estimated to cost at least a couple million dollars. Volunteer, or grassroots initiatives, as we witnessed personally, rarely succeed in California. Mr. Evans argued that his plan would help our organization to get an initiative qualified, the success of which would create positive news attention for the organization and demonstrate our ability to get initiatives on the ballot—something we had already failed to do twice. Another enticement to bring me into his plan, considering how much I harped on him about collecting signatures and turning in a respectable amount, even if not enough to qualify.
In retrospect I accept that I may have put too much pressure on him to produce results and that pressure may have led him to be open to such drastic measures.
Which drastic measures, specifically?
As shown in the e-mail attached below, Mr. Evans mulled filing an initiative on behalf of the Iranian government that would, as he described, “support the removal of sanctions against Iran that were increased by Trump – back to the level of sanctions that were there during the Obama time.” To his credit, Mr. Evans did not immediately agree to this suggestion from his Iranian contact, but that he felt the offer was worth the time and consideration of the president of a prominent American political organization is troubling. Thankfully, I was able to talk him out of such a bad idea.
However, it seems this ballot initiative idea was a way for the Iranians to gauge how much support for secession actually existed in California before they came out and put their support behind it. According to Mr. Evans, the Iranians were prepared to pay for the entire campaign but in text messages we exchanged during that same time, he also expressed a need to demonstrate public support for secession, a need that developed into an obsession.
Unlike Scotland or Catalonia, California never had any massive rallies with hundreds or tens of thousands of people marching for independence. Frankly, it never had any of such marches or public gatherings in support of independence. It is understandable, therefore, why the Iranians may have been skeptical of the campaign’s legitimacy. If he could manage to demonstrate public support, however, Mr. Evans believed that the Iranians would host a CalExit ‘Embassy’ in Tehran.
To demonstrate public support for the idea, Marcus began livestreaming weekly conference calls (which he sometimes called board meetings) live on social media for the world (Iran) to watch. He continues to run this livestream to this day. The people he invites to participate do not necessarily have to support California secession—the key point is that they are simply open to discussing the idea. Nonetheless, he calls it the CalExit Congress. When Mr. Evans livestreams the CalExit Congress or posts clips to YouTube of him running into a stranger on the streets of Fresno who supports CalExit, he does so to demonstrate the public support needed by the Iranians. Or maybe it is just to reassure himself?
I personally regret that I have had to come forward in such a way. Mr. Evans and I go back many years and we plowed through some difficult times together and managed to keep a campaign running from two different continents. So a public statement without details would have raised more questions than answers. However, even though Mr. Evans resigned from YesCalifornia last fall in protest of the support I expressed on social media for the verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, he has continued making public statements and holding public meetings in the name of and on behalf of YesCalifornia without authority to do so. He has additionally ignored requests, both formal and informal, including a Notice to Cease and Desist, to stop.
Therefore, as the organization’s current leader, since Mr. Evans continues to publicly speak on behalf of this organization without authority to do so, I made the decision to publicly distance myself and YesCalifornia from him, considering his questionable motives and ties to Iran, as I close the CalExit chapter once and for all.