Hermiston, OR – A former Umatilla County commissioner candidate is under investigation after he allegedly admitted that a racist, threatening letter he claimed to have received was actually written by him.
Former Umatilla County Commissioner candidate Jonathan Lopez claimed he “never meant to mislead” the public when he lied about someone anonymously dropping the letter in his mailbox on June 23, the East Oregonian reported.
Lopez snapped a photo of the letter and posted it to his since-deleted Facebook account.
“Don’t waste your time trying to become anything in this county we will make sure you never win and your family suffers along with all the other f–king Mexicans in the area!” the letter read, according to KEPR.
“America is for the God fearing, pro gun, pro life humans who refuse to be controlled by the government,” another section read, according to the East Oregonian.
“Your not welcome here and will never be anything in this community or state,” the message continued, according to Newsweek. “Umatilla County kills [racial slur] like you and are dumped in the fields and river. That’s why our crops are the best!”
The threatening letter was riddled with additional misogynistic and homophobic slurs, the East Oregonian reported.
In his since-deleted post, Lopez said he “holds no resentment for whomever wrote this,” FOX News reported. “I’m just simply heartbroken for the lack of knowledge, education and respect missing. I pray for you and wish you prosperity in your life.”
“Many don’t know me or who I am and where I stand,” he wrote, according to KEPR. “As an American born man who served in the [U.S. Coast Guard], fire and rescue services. I’m also proud of where my parents and grandparents were born and raised, Mexico. I have lived a life full of obstacles and challenges Including racism. There is no room or tolerance of that.”
Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston said that officers immediately began investigating the threatening letter after Lopez brought it to their attention, the East Oregonian reported.
Lopez initially claimed that he was just trying to talk to Chief Edmiston about racism in the local community, and that he wanted to use the letter as an example.
“I never meant to file a report, it just kind of spiraled out,” he insisted.
He admitted that he told police he found the letter in his mailbox, the East Oregonian reported.
“From the onset, this alleged incident has been thoroughly investigated,” Chief Edmiston told the paper on Monday. “Our investigation has shown that Mr. Lopez wrote the letter himself and made false statements to the police and on social media. The end result is a verbal and written admission by Mr. Lopez that the letter was fabricated.”
The investigation has been forwarded to the Umatilla County District Attorney’s Office, and could result in a misdemeanor initiating a false report charge against the failed commissioner candidate.
Furthermore, investigators discovered that Lopez’s claim that he served in the U.S. Coast Guard was also a lie, Chief Edmiston said.
Lopez failed to provide documentation of his alleged service, and could be charged for allegedly violating the 2013 Stolen Valor Act, according to the East Oregonian.
“This investigation is particularly frustrating as we are in the midst of multiple major investigations while battling a resource shortage due to the current pandemic,” Chief Edmiston told the paper. “The time spent on this fictitious claim means time lost on other matters, not to mention it needlessly adds to the incredible tension that exists in our nation today.”
“As a lifelong resident of this diverse community, I’m disgusted someone would try to carelessly advance their personal ambitions at the risk of others,” the chief added.
Lopez, who sits on Hermiston’s Hispanic Advisory Committee, placed fourth in the Umatilla County Board of Commissioners primary election in May, the East Oregonian reported.