Cochise Sup. Judd spreads conspiracy myths, deletes Facebook after taking part in Jan. 6 Capitol march
County official faces resignation calls after she touts election-fraud & D.C. riot misinfo, posts about incident as it took place
A Cochise County supervisor deleted her Facebook profile and is facing calls to resign after she touted conspiracy myths associated with the QAnon movement and posted about her participation in the January 6 march on the U.S. Capitol that became a deadly insurrection.
Supervisor Peggy Judd says she is fearful of being "punished" and "defiled" by the press and critical voices within her own community. Speaking with TucsonSentinel.com, the Republican supervisor said she has recently endured unfriendly remarks and calls for her resignation from "bad people" — and she fears that "more than her freedom" is being endangered by the attention and criticism she has received since the incident at the Capitol.
The critical voices in Judd's ear are those of some Cochise County citizens who have been troubled and outraged by Judd's participation in the January 6 "Stop the Steal" rally, which featured President Donald Trump and turned into a violent mob attacking the U.S. Capitol.
Judd also raised alarm among some in the Cochise community with her consistent promotion of unfounded conspiracist statements about the November election and the attack on the Capitol. An investigation by the Sentinel found that Judd and a member of her family apparently exchanged QAnon material around the time of their involvement in the events in Washington.
Judd has claimed that the takeover of the Capitol right after a speech by Trump just down the National Mall was possibly a planned "false flag" operation in which "Antifa" activists and corrupt Capitol Police officers duped innocent Trump supporters into appearing in videos of the violent clashes on the steps and inside the Capitol building.
Just days after the riot, Judd removed both her personal Facebook profiles, as well as the Facebook page associated with her public office.
In fact, the January 6 "Stop the Steal" rally attended by Judd (a former state representative) and members of her family reached its culmination when an insurrectionist mob, called to the Capitol and urged to action by then-President Trump, forcibly seized the seat of the legislative branch of the federal government in an attempt to stop congressional acceptance of the results of the November 3 presidential election of President Joe Biden.
The Capitol riot resulted in the deaths of five people, along with the second impeachment of Trump, as well as hundreds of police investigations and the arrests of dozens of participants, and calls for resignations of the multiple state and local lawmakers who were involved in the protest — including some who themselves invaded the Capitol building.
And those consequences have come calling close to home: on January 17, Otero County, N.M., Commissioner Couy Griffin was arrested on federal charges related to his alleged involvement in the insurrection.
Judd says she didn't enter Capitol
For her part, Judd told the Sentinel that she did not go into the Capitol Building. She described the event as "an innocent endeavor" that she took part in as a "babysitter" for her grandchildren, so that her daughter and son-in-law could take part in the pro-Trump march. She said she helped pay for the trip, which the family undertook as part of a cross-county pro-Trump vehicle "caravan."
According to Judd, she has not been contacted by any law enforcement concerning her presence at the January 6 rally. Cochise County Attorney Brian McIntyre told the Sentinel he is not aware of any "existing or potential investigations" into the county supervisor's activities.
"I didn't think there was anything weird about marching on the Capitol," said Judd, who had been publicly promoting false claims relating to the integrity of the presidential election for months prior to the January 6 event. "In fact, while I was walking there, about to die because I'm old and not in such good shape, I was actually thinking, 'this is kind of like, you know, like marching for our rights and our freedom' — I kind of almost felt like it was equal to the Martin Luther King march."
According to screenshots of Judd's Facebook posts obtained by the Sentinel, on the evening of January 6, after the mob of Trump supporters had violently seized the Capitol, Judd posted a photograph showing Trump supporters walking near the Capitol.
It seemed she was proud of the day's events.
The accompanying caption read: "We did a great thing today and please know [all] of us standing up all over America today have made it possible to move on to the next level of action by our current amazing president!"
The storming of the Capitol, according to multiple news accounts, began around 2 p.m. The building remained occupied by rioters until about 6 p.m.
It is not known what exactly Judd anticipated these next levels of action on Trump's part would be, though it is clear that the county supervisor had hoped the election results would be overturned on January 6.
In the days preceding the Capitol insurrection, Judd reposted material to her personal, public Facebook page urging God to guide then-Vice President Mike Pence in unilaterally rejecting the results of the presidential election during the joint session of the U.S. Congress to be held on January 6. When Pence failed to do this, rioters invaded the Capitol, some of them chanting "hang Mike Pence."
Claims of conspiracies
On January 9, following public outcry over her involvement in the events of January 6, and for her statements after the insurrection, Judd deleted both her personal and official Facebook pages.
Though she told the Sentinel she has screenshots of her Facebook posts about January 6, Judd declined to provide these. Similarly, Judd claimed to have "lost" a video pertaining to the Jan. 6th attack that she had posted, and quickly deleted, from the Facebook page of the Northern Cochise County Republican Club.
Facebook has hidden the page of the Northern Cochise County Republican Club from public searches. The social media company has been limiting access to pages and profiles that have posted false and misleading claims about the election. At the end of December, that club's page featured a meme announcing an "Operation Occupy The Capitol," with an image of the Capitol dome shattered by lightning and the date January 6, 2012, along with QAnon slogans such as "#WeAreTheStorm."
QAnon is a conspiracy myth which holds that Donald Trump was engaged in a secret war against a cabal of Satanic pedophiles who control both the Democratic Party and the nation.
In this fantasy, "deep state" actors were perpetually plotting, in partnership with the news media, to undermine Trump. QAnon followers believed that during an event known as "The Storm," Trump would execute mass arrests of these Satanic pedophiles and their allies. Many who took part in the January 6 insurrection were QAnon followers. Prior to the January 6 insurrection, the FBI had warned that QAnon posed a potential domestic terrorism threat.
Judd said she did not witness anything untoward taking place that day, and that she has condemned the violence that took place at the Capitol.
In the days following the riots, Judd informed her friends, family and constituents through Facebook that "programmed media has taken over the minds of Americans" and that the violence of "a small group" has "given the corporate media permission to negatively label and harass every proud and hard working American who sacrificed that day to show solidarity to one another and our nation under God."
Judd: Capitol Police & Antifa worked to entrap Trump supporters, make president 'look bad'
The 58-year-old county supervisor is a niece (by marriage) of former Cochise County Sheriff Jimmy Judd and a distant relative of National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd (the Border Patrol agents' union that has been tightly allied with former President Trump). Given that family law enforcement background, it seems especially noteworthy that a recurrent theme in Judd's telling of the events of January 6 has corrupt U.S. Capitol Police officers letting rioters — who, according to Judd, were likely anti-fascist left-wing "Antifa" activists disguised as Trump followers — into the Capitol building.
Further, when asked by the Sentinel what she has made of the numerous Trump supporters who have subsequently been arrested by the FBI for their roles in the insurrection, Judd stated that it "appears" (she is still waiting for "evidence" before she makes a final determination) likely that law enforcement personnel deliberately entrapped unwitting and well-behaved Trump supporters.
These Trump supporters, said Judd, were "shuffled in" to the building by police for use in "carefully staged videos." The goal, Judd told the Sentinel, was to "make Trump look bad."
"I think that there was a plan to storm the Capitol — that started, maybe weeks prior to that event. I mean, that event was planned for a long time. I think that there are what are called 'false flag' things that have happened for 200 years in our county," Judd told the Sentinel. "People do like to politically use a situation against the other party. I think this could have been one, or maybe it wasn't. I don't know."
Though she now hedges in her commitment to these claims of conspiratorial goings-on, according to records of email communications obtained by the Sentinel, Judd was giving voice to such alternate versions of reality on the day of the insurrection.
According to records obtained from Cochise County, on the afternoon of January 6, Sierra Vista Herald reporter Shar Porier wrote Judd and asked if she and her family were OK. The Cochise supervisor responded to the reporter by saying: "The grandchildren think they were making history! And they are sick that our beautiful day got hijacked. I have to admit, I am sad too! There is much more to this event than people are being told and it is sad! Then there are the photoshopped stories and outright lies and people ignoring the 99% who sacrificed to be there and enjoy our day of peaceful protest."
When asked what evidence she has for these claims, Judd referenced various images and amateur videos posted to right-wing social media, and stated that, prior to the march, she had been advised by the organizers of the pro-Trump "caravan" that Antifa were planning to infiltrate the event.
Judd stated that she does not often read or watch traditional news media sources.
According to email records obtained by the Sentinel, a person Judd identified as a "friend" sent her one such amateur video earlier in the day of January 6, purporting to show suspicious pieces of lumber and propane tanks situated on the streets of Washington D.C. prior to the protest. The cellphone footage was published by "Grafted In - Team Jesus" to the far-right conspiracy theory video-sharing platform Brighteon.com.
Another person who wrote Judd around the same time on January 6, according to email records obtained from Cochise County, advised Judd that Jesus Christ instructed his followers to be conspiracy theorists — because, there are indeed, conspiracies against them. Speaking with the Sentinel, Judd claimed to have no knowledge of this email or its sender. [Note: records obtained from Cochise County demonstrate that Judd personally gave this email correspondence to Cochise County in response to a public records request submitted by the Sentinel.]
"Well, what I want to do right now, is to be able to speak my truth," said Judd when asked whether she found these to be credible sources of information. "I hear everybody else's truth, and that's OK. But, in my country that I was raised in, I was able to pay attention to what I wanted to pay attention to, and not be vilified for it."
But, Judd's critics in the community say this is far from harmless, in that Judd, as a county supervisor, is tasked with governmental functions, such as certifying results of elections held within the county. In fact, Judd had certified the results of Cochise County's November 3 elections, wherein voters in the overwhelmingly Republican county favored Donald Trump for a second presidential term, and elected Judd to another term as the supervisor from the county's Third District (containing Benson and Willcox, where she lives).
When attempting to share a photograph with the Sentinel that Judd stated showed her purported distance from the U.S. Capitol building at 12:30 p.m. on January 6, Judd inadvertently provided other images from her iPhone. One of those images seemed to demonstrate that the Judds were much closer to the Capitol than Judd had previously admitted. The photo appeared to have been taken on the lawn just outside of the Capitol Building, and the timestamp stated the photograph had been taken at 4:29 p.m. January 6.
Judd had stated, at various times in interviews with the Sentinel, that she never got any closer to the Capitol than either the reflecting pool (less than 1,200 feet from the building) or, alternately, a half-mile from the Capitol, and that her family had left the area of the Capitol at 2 p.m. and promptly returned to their hotel room.
When asked to verify the time the photograph near the Capitol building with the 4:29 p.m. timestamp was taken, Judd said that it had been taken earlier in the day by her daughter and that the image she provided to the Sentinel had been saved by Judd to her phone as a screenshot at 4:29 p.m. Judd claimed that the photograph had actually been taken at 2:30 p.m., and said that she would obtain the original file, with the original timestamp, from her daughter and provide it to the Sentinel. Judd never did so.
Judd also claimed that, though the photograph appeared to be of the grounds immediately surrounding the Capitol, it was actually taken at a much greater distance than it appeared to be.
As an offering of proof that the 4:29 p.m. timestamp on the photograph apparently taken on the Capitol grounds was not when the photograph was actually taken, Judd sent a screenshot of her iPhone's screen shots album.
Present in this screenshot was a document which read, in part: "Don't believe everything you read. Q said, 'DISINFORMATION IS NECESSARY.' We are in the fog of war as things get closer. Just know, Patriots are in control and God is on His throne!"
When asked by the Sentinel what the meaning was of the apparent QAnon message she had inadvertently shared via this screenshot, Judd stated that it was likely something she had saved to share with her daughter, or which had been shared with her by her daughter — whom Judd referred to as her "Anon Guru."
When asked whether this was a reference to QAnon, Judd responded: "Yeah, what's wrong with that? What's wrong with God being in control, and all that stuff? [laughs] So, anyway, she's my guru — I don't believe in it, I don't follow it. When I see something weird, I'm like, 'what does this mean,' and she can hopefully interpret it."
"I can tell you there's a lot of people in this country really worried about their future. And if they express it that way, isn't that OK?," added Judd.
As the Sentinel began to ask Judd about her knowledge of the QAnon conspiracy theory, the Cochise County supervisor stated she knew "a little bit" about it, abruptly ended the phone call, and stated she was blocking this reporter's phone number.
Outrage, puzzlement & calls for Judd's resignation
Following Judd's involvement in the events of January 6 and her public statements regarding conspiracy theories related to the insurrection, there have been multiple calls for Judd's resignation or removal from office.
One of the more pointed criticisms came from Cochise County resident and activist Jeff Sturges, who likened Judd's participation in the "Stop the Steal" march and denial of the November 3 presidential election results to participation by German citizens in the "Big Lie" propaganda advanced by the Nazis.
Others, like Cochise County resident Elizabeth Lopez, cited Judd's participation in the march alongside QAnon adherents and white nationalist Proud Boys as extreme cause for alarm. Lopez also characterized Judd's removal from social media of photographs showing the nature of the crowd, while spreading false claims of Antifa agitation, as being "disingenuous and cowardly."
When asked whether she would resign, Judd told the Sentinel that "bad people" were trying to "hurt" and "scare" her, but that she would not resign.
"My county administrator knew I was going to Washington D.C., and knew why — and he doesn't believe in my political views, that I know of," said Judd, by way of a defense. "It was not something that was negligent, or to make a scene. It was my right, and I didn't do anything wrong."
Cochise County Administrator Richard Karwaczka did not respond to written questions submitted by the Sentinel seeking to verify the accuracy of Judd's claim.
Cochise County Supervisor Ann English (a Democrat, representing the county's Second District) recalled that when she learned of Judd's involvement in the January 6 march, she approached Karwaczka to determine if Judd had used her county-issued credit card, or any other county funds or resources in her travel to the Capitol. English said she was told by Karwaczka this had not been the case.
"To my knowledge, the county did not send her and does not want to be represented that this was a county function she was attending," said English.
When asked to confirm English's account regarding her inquiries, Karwaczka declined to comment, offering only: "Judd's trip was personal travel."
English said she can't really decipher her fellow supervisor.
"There was never any discussion on her part of anything that had gone wrong," said English, recalling her work with Judd in certifying the county's election results. "We had an almost perfect election in Cochise County — as far as not having any problems. And, then, to have her as part of a group that was — you know, saying all this election fraud... that puzzled me."
Cochise County Democratic Party Chair Elisabeth Tyndall said that she is weighing whether to start a petition drive, seeking either Judd's resignation or a recall election. But, she said, she would much rather see such an effort come as a nonpartisan groundswell from the community, to include both Democrats and Republicans.
"Being honest, not pedaling in conspiracy theories, not traveling to D.C. to participate in the 'Stop the Steal' rally — these should not be partisan issues," said Tyndall. "But, here we have an elected official who participated in what became sedition — whether she stormed the Capitol or not."
"I know, as a state, we've been focusing on our federal representatives, but, really, local government is where so much of this happens, where a lot of this takes root, and really causes a lot of the division in the community," added Tyndall. "I guess this is one of the reasons I am so angry, honestly, at Peggy Judd — because we're a small community here [...] and here she is, spreading these kinds of things, and it's just not responsible."
GOP chair: Criticizing Judd is 'goofy shit from disgruntled losers'
Stated nonpartisan aspirations aside, Tyndall admitted the idea of Judd's resignation or recall has found little traction within the county's Republican community.
Cochise County Republican Committee Chairman Richard Montgomery had little patience for questions regarding Judd and her activities related to the January 6 insurrection.
Asked what he thinks of criticism of Judd's activities related to the January 6 insurrection and calls for her resignation, Montgomery chuckled, then said: "I'm really not going to get into that nonsense. Ah, that's just some goofy shit from, ah, disgruntled losers. I don't have any opinion to give you about it. A million to a million and a half people were there. What do you want to do, fire or imprison all of them? Or get them to resign their jobs?"
Asked whether he is concerned by the fact that Judd, a public officeholder, had been publicly spreading untrue conspiracy theories, and has an apparent interest in QAnon, Montgomery said:
"I don't even know if those things are true, and no, it doesn't worry me. There's a wide range of political opinion in officeholders across the country. Ah, a huge percentage of them in Washington today, praising and loving Karl Marx and, ah, Che Guevara, so, no."
Asked whether he believes QAnon is a harmless ideology, Montgomery told the Sentinel that he does not know what it is.
Asked whether he believes the presidential election was stolen from Trump, Montgomery — speaking to the Sentinel on January 22, two days following Trump's exit from the White House and the inauguration of President Biden — said: "Well, everybody believes that. We'll, we'll demonstrate that here pretty soon."
When asked how he would demonstrate this, Montgomery refused to comment and hung up the phone.