I get asked a lot about everything from the Conejo Guardian to Free Ventura Action PAC. What these? Who is behind them? How are they funded?
1. Who is Rob McCoy?
Rob McCoy is a far-right Christian Evangelist who heads up Godspeak Calvary Church in Dos Vientos. Texas fracking billionaires bought the former Y and transformed it into a church venue for him. McCoy is vocal about his agenda to “legislate morality,” does not believe in the separation of church and state, and quit his term as city council member in 2020 in order to host mass gatherings at Godspeak Calvary in defiance of state and county health regulations during a national health pandemic.
Godspeak Calvary has also been the venue used for anti-public school forums, Free Ventura Action PAC meetings and the assemblage and delivery of the far-right propaganda publication, The Conejo Guardian.
McCoy is the Chair of Turning Point Faith (a division of radical Charlie Kirk’s Turning Point USA), a member of Public School Exit’s Advisory Council (a movement to encourage a mass exodus of public schools), and recently recorded a video with Marjorie Taylor Greene, whom he said should be the next president of the United States. He publicly supported Tim McCarthy, founder of the far-right Move the Needle organization, that is responsible for the weekly freeway overpass protests denying the 2020 election, supporting the insurrection, and protesting against health mandates, among other grievances. Their voter guide is a who’s who in extremist agendas.
2. What is The Conejo Guardian?
The Conejo Guardian is a far-right propaganda paper first launched in 2020 and run by Amy Chen (a Godspeak member who lost her 2018 bid for the CVUSD school board after it was revealed that she created the paper shell of a non-existent nonprofit for the sole purpose of using “education nonprofit director” as a ballot designation.) While McCoy denies “involvement,” he recently slipped in a recorded podcast, referring to the paper as “We …”, and provides Godspeak Calvary as the venue for paper assemblage and coordinated deliveries. The paper’s objective is to publish hit pieces against our local public school district, against teachers, and lately, against the LGBTQ+ community.
Its advertisers are a mix of local wealth management firms, VC Gun Defense, and a smattering of realtors. The paper doesn’t adhere to journalistic best practices, backing its hit pieces with quotes from “anonymous whistleblowers.” Joel Kilpatrick is listed as the editor of the paper currently. Amy Chen manages the advertising revenue.
Anonymous Mommy The Conejo Guardian, What You Need to Know, Aug. 1, 2021
3. What is Free Ventura Action PAC
Free Ventura Action PAC was created by Rob McCoy’s Liberty Station Podcast Co-host Bryce Eddy and Rick Brown, co-pastor of Godspeak Church. The PAC’s meetings are hosted at Godspeak Calvary Church. From their website: “It is our desire to join this network of freedom fighters to create synergy in our efforts to identify, recruit, train, and support candidates.” Featured videos on the site include: “What is a woman?” and “Whose children are they?” McCoy claims to have no tangible involvement with this PAC … but let’s all just be real for a moment shall we?
4. What is Watchmen33
WOW33 most noticeably popped up last year (locally), when the group started hosting webinars to “train” parents to post fake legal notices on school campuses to demonstrate their anti-masking stance during a global health pandemic. These parents were being encouraged to send in a “donation” for a parental packet that would train them. Y’all — it’s always about the grift with these folks!
Worth noting that Mandy Jacob, who runs this local WOW33 chapter, has identified herself as Joelle Manuco’s campaign manager in email correspondence. I remember her mostly for hissing at parents at CVUSD school board meetings and for attempting to insult working class members of our community in an Acorn letter. Joelle Mancuso is the Rob McCoy-backed candidate for CVUSD Area 2 (his other candidates are Karen Meyer for CVUSD Area 3 and Sophia DeDomenico for Area 4).
WOW33 has a few local candidates that have pledged to the Watchmen Decree, and thus are whom the group is advocating for (they refer to the candidates as: “The Watchmen below make up a very special part of our organization: our candidates. These men and women have made a commitment to you and your parental rights.”)
The national overarching movement, like David Lane’s American Renewal Project, is to develop “watchmen pastors” to run for local offices. When pastors aren’t available, church members that will “stay in line” are the next most desirable choice. Watchmen on the Wall states on its website that it is a ministry of the Family Research Council, an extremely anti-LGBTQ+ advocacy group, that has stated on its website: “Family Research Council believes that homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large, and can never be affirmed. It is by definition unnatural, and as such is associated with negative physical and psychological health effects.”
This was the decree they had published on their website that has since, mysteriously disappeared after I posted about the organization:
As a Patriot of faith, I attest my allegiance first and foremost to the kingdom of God and the
Great Commission. Secondly, I agree to be a watchman over our nation concerning its people
and their rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
● we, the Church, are God’s governing Body on the earth
● we have been given legal power and authority from heaven
● we are God’s ambassadors and spokespeople over the earth
● through the power of God, we are His world influencers
● because of our covenant with God, we are equipped and delegated by Him to destroy every attempted advance of the enemy
WE MAKE OUR DECLARATIONS:
1. We decree that America’s executive branch of government will honor God and defend the Constitution.
2. We decree that our legislative branch (Congress) will write only laws that are righteous and constitutional.
3. We decree that our judicial system will issue rulings that are biblical and constitutional.
4. We declare that we stand against wokeness, the occult, and every evil attempt against our nation.
5. We declare that we now take back our God-given freedoms, according to our Constitution.
6. We declare that we take back influence at the local level in our communities.
7. We decree that we take back and permanently control positions of influence and leadership in each of the **Seven Mountains.
8. We decree that the blood of Jesus covers and protects our nation. It protects and separates us for God.
9. We declare that our nation is energy independent.
10. We declare that America is strong spiritually, financially, militarily and technologically.
11. We decree that evil carries no power, authority or rights in our land nor over our people.
12. We decree that we will operate in unity, going beyond denominational lines in order to accomplish the purposes of God for our nation.
13. And we decree that AMERICA SHALL BE SAVED!
14. We know this country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. We know the truth; therefore,
we stand for truth and will NEVER be deceived! We will NEVER stop fighting!
We will NEVER, EVER, EVER give up or give in!
We WILL take our country back.
We WILL honor the ONE TRUE GOD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob! AMERICA SHALL BE SAVED!
“Working together with Him, we strongly urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain [by turning away from sound doctrine and His merciful kindness]. For He says, ‘At the acceptable time (the
time of grace) I listened to you, and I helped you on the day of salvation.’ Behold, now is ‘the acceptable time,’ behold, now is ‘the day of salvation.’” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2; AMP)
*Watchman Decree was written and shared by Flashpoint on 7/1/2022.
**Seven Mountains of Influence includes media, business/finance, family, education, politics, arts/entertainment, and religion.
At one point in time, Joelle Mancuso, Karen Meyer, Cole Bracato, Lori Mills, Halla Maher (T.O. City Council Candidate), Mikey Tayor (T.O. City Council Candidate) and Don Brodt (SVUSD Area D Candidate) were all listed as “watchmen.” After my post, there must have been some communications. Today, only four still appear on the website: Joelle Mancuso, Karen Meyer, Cole Bracato and Lori Mills.
5. What is Citizens Journal?
You know what, I almost completely forgot about these folks. They’ve got The Conejo Guardian doing a lot of heavy lifting for them these days. The Citizens Journal is a far-right online publication that posts similar content to The Conejo Guardian, most notability missives against our public schools, teachers and citizens. One of its primary editors is Deborah Baber. Deb, who is known for dressing us as lady liberty at various city council and school board meetings throughout the county, most recently shot to … “fame” after she sang a song at the VC Board of Supervisors meeting during the height of the pandemic, bemoaning masks. Honestly, you just have to watch for yourself.
Citizens Journal founding editor Michael Hernandez hosted a “Can you be a reporter” training to “raise up” the next generation of reporters and host workshops that included essay writing on the topic: “How can citizens participate in government and uphold the American Legacy?”
The paper has been caught lifting reporting from The Acorn.
6. What is Conejo Valley Mama Bears?
Conejo Valley Mama Bears was launched by CVUSD Area 2 Candidate Joelle Mancuso, as a means to encourage like-minded folks to deny health mandates and protest against LGBTQ+ students and ethnic studies courses in our school district. Its content is primarily composed of racist and transphobic rhetoric, juxtaposed with images implying use gun violence as a response to books they don’t want in school libraries, and a very "we are mommy and daddy bears, hear us roar" sort of vibe. This is not the national pro-LGBTQ+ friendly Mama Bears. The three Mama Bear candidates running for CVUSD school board (none with kids in the district – two of them used private schools) are: Joelle Mancuso, Karen Meyer and Sophia DeDomenico. They have the support of the Free Ventura Action PAC and Move the Needle organization, along with Rob McCoy. These three candidates each received donations of $10,000 by one Godspeak member for their campaigns.
7. What is Conservative Moms of Conejo Valley?
CMOCV is a private Facebook group administered by Sandee Everett, a former CVUSD school board trustee who lost her re-election bid in 2020 and moved out the state. That hasn’t stopped her from posting hundreds of times daily in this group, dedicated to spreading conspiracy theories and disinformation campaigns. They coordinate with Rob McCoy and Conejo Valley Mama Bears on activism efforts, and coordinate comments on local news articles.
8. What is Conejo Alert?
Conejo Alert is another far-right “movement” that recently launched in an effort to protest against LGBTQ+ students in our public schools. The website encourage parents to go to school libraries to “look for transgender books”, is supported by the Move the Needle organization, and basically just primarily exists to be an absolute vile shithole of bigotry and transphobia.
9. What is California Parent Alliance, Informed Conejo Valley, Concerned Parents of California?
These all existed prior to Conejo Alert, but their mission is connected. This group mostly focuses on protesting comprehensive sexual health education that is age appropriate and inclusive of all students receiving the education. They frequently post misinformation about the actual curriculum and opt-out policies.
All of these efforts are interconnected and often work together to amplify the messaging while presenting as “just a group of concerned parents.” These are all part of connected network under Rob McCoy who work together implementing disinformation campaigns laden with fear-mongering propaganda filled with lies and illegitimate sources.
Here’s how it works: Don't go to Godspeak Calvary? Don't worry! Some of its most active church members admin and dominate conversations in online groups like Conservative Moms of Conejo Valley and Conejo Valley Mama Bears, so you’ll be fed the propaganda there. Not in CMOCV? Don't worry, you'll hear about it via The Conejo Guardian, as most of its op-eds are penned by CMOCV and Godspeak Calvary members. Don't read Rhe Conejo Guardian ...? That's not a problem — a different version of the same op-ed will be published on Citizen's Journal using a fake pen name. Don't read the news, but hang out on Facebook? Well, you then might find your feed full of posts from California Parent Alliance, Informed Conejo Valley, or Concerned Parents of California. Or, you'll see an organized string of comments hit the comment sections of our local paper, The Acorn or the VC Star, to give the false appearance of "majority support" for opinions expressed by the group's most vocal voices on social media. This effort is bolstered by a few who have several alias accounts. Not on Facebook? Just head over to Twitter, where they also have multiple Twitter accounts under different aliases that they use to tweet, fight and dominate a thread in attempts to control the narrative and convey massive community support.
SO, WHAT DO WE DO?
1. You get informed. You are not getting “real” or unbiased news from: The Conejo Guardian or the Citizens Journal. Your real news sources should be, to start: The Acorn and the VC Star. These aren’t without missteps, but they are not propaganda-agenda driven. And, your source for any news related to a school district should be that school district’s website. Not the propaganda flyer placed on your car window shield that doesn’t link to a relevant website.
2. Support good governance, responsible candidates who will put students, schools and cities, first.
VENTURA COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT AREA 2
I, Jess Weihe, am running for Area 2. www.jess4vcccd.com. The other candidate in the race is backed by Rob McCoy, Move the Needle and Free Ventura. I hope you’ll visit my website to learn more about my platform so we can chat about our community college district!
Link up with Conejo Together. Conejo Together is a group of parents and organizations that have joined to support good governance candidates. In 2022, for CVUSD, they are supporting Lisa Powell (Area 2), Bill Gorback (Area 3), and Cindy Goldberg (Area 4). You will ONLY see these names on your ballot if you live in the voting areas listed above.
T.O. CITY COUNCIL RACE
While the McCoy candidates include Halla Maher and Mikey Taylor; we’ve got a few excellent candidates running: Bob Engler for re-election and Kyle Rohrbach. You will be able to vote for three candidates.
CONEJO RECREATION AND PARK DISTRICT
You will have three votes for this race. I am supporting Chaise Rasheed and Marissa Buss.
3. If you’d like to get more involved in local politics, email me and I can help you get started. If you would like guidance on all of the local elections and candidates, I can provide you with some endorsement guides.
A few months back, I participated in a DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) stakeholder meeting organized by the city, and led by Phin Xaypangna, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Officer - County of Ventura. The meeting allowed for group brainstorming sessions to discuss inequities and disparities on topics that included housing, transportation, health care, K-12 education, racism, minimum wage, digital divide, law enforcement, city elected officials, community attitude, disability community and LGBTQ+ community.
Additionally, time was provided to talk about the city's strengths, problems, weaknesses and threats ... and then to suggest some BOLD ideas.
The presentation kicked off with a video that I thought would be valuable for people to watch to set the conversation.
Here are the notes as provided by the city from that meeting.
You can also download a PDF of them HERE.
I spoke with councilmember Claudia Bill-de la Peña about next steps stemming from this meeting and she shared that she is focused on hiring a full-time DEI position for the City of Thousand Oaks who can address this feedback and work with city staff and city residents.
Rob McCoy and his selected candidates for school board (Joelle Mancuso, Karen Meyer, and a third TBD) have been polishing their political statements for campaign runs. They're primed, airbrushed and dying to scare you, because fear is all they've got, really. So, I want to break down some of their polished talking points that you're going to see in their mailers, flyers and social media talking points. And, I want to then give a BRIEF recap of origins/context as it relates to this effort here locally.
Disinformation continues to run rampant in our Conejo Valley community, thanks to the efforts of a few, but well-funded community members. Call it out. You never know what your friends are consuming, and sometimes YOU are the voice they listen to.
The trash was tossed upon my driveway once again … by trash, you know what I’m talking about: the propaganda paper presenting itself as an “independent” community newspaper, called the Conejo Guardian.
You may wonder why I bring up this paper from time to time — you may be thinking, “Gosh, AM, stop giving it attention!” So, here’s the thing … I get a significant number of emails from “non-AM” readers who come across my blog after searching for information about this paper online, who thank me because they were curious what this new paper was and why it was showing up on their porch.
So, if nothing else … I want people to have that information — I want them to know who is behind these slanted “articles,” and I want to hold this “paper” accountable. I also don’t believe in turning a blind eye to biased reporting that leaves out context in order to craft a specific agenda-driven narrative — especially when it’s littering our community with disinformation.
We already know the Conejo Guardian doesn’t adhere to journalism 101 best practices, nor, based on the number of typos they regularly publish, do they care about copyediting. But we also know — at least according to what they state on their front page — that they distribute this to 39,000 households in Conejo Valley. And so, we owe it to our fellow neighbors to make this information easy to find. Look, Rob McCoy has got a lot of money, let’s be honest. And yes, I think McCoy is a funder (either directly or indirectly) of this paper given that the delivery folk will tell you they were sent from Godspeak Calvary, and many of this publication’s writers are McCoy associates … not to mention the paper's CEO is Amy Chen.
Because I like to be aware of what disinformation is being spread, I took a glance at today’s edition. Surprising absolutely no one, there’s another hit piece on CVUSD (trying to drag down the district is the core goal of this paper) … this time with the words: LOCKED DOORS CONFRONTED PARENTS AT THE AUGUST 31 CVUSD BOARD MEETING, writes Rachel Anaya.
Rach, doors don’t confront people. It’s not the way inanimate objects work. Beyond that, I am fascinated that Rachel left out what these parents did to the doors during that meeting. More on that later.
Rach (is this the writer's real name?) goes on to write that the board passed a policy without “public presence.” This not factually true. An accurate statement would have qualified that phrase with IN-PERSON public presence. The community still had opportunity to provide public presence at this meeting by way of public comments via telephone and/or emailed comments to the board. It’s 100% disingenuous to suggest that the board isn’t allowing parents to voice their input. And, it’s lazy and just flat-out bad reporting to not provide the context that this group of parents referenced were FULLY aware that the meetings had shifted to a virtual viewing platform and that they planned to show up and cause a scene at the district office specifically as a show of organized protest. There’s not an innocent little ol’ Mary Jane in this situation, who, hands to Jesus, got turned away at the door. For fuck's sake ... even the sister wives were in on this staged disruption.
So, let’s talk about why the meetings are virtual for the time being. In case you’re living under a rock, you’d know there is a County mask mandate in place. Unfortunately, the same group of parents who showed up to protest and bang on district property, are the same folks that refuse to comply with the mask mandate or health guidelines. And, given that our local law enforcement won’t enforce the mask mandate, these people were putting district staff at risk each meeting. The district has a responsibility to comply with heath mandates and to also protect its staff. It’s these same parents (affiliated with California Parent Alliance, Concerned Parents of California, Informed Conejo, and Conservative Moms of Conejo Valley), whose actions forced the district’s hand in resorting to virtual meetings. Want to attend in-person meetings during a pandemic when there's a mask mandate in place? Wear your fucking masks you fucktwits.
Clearly, I don't have a strong opinion about this. But like, COME ON.
So stop clutching your pearls and feigning outrage over a situation YOU CREATED and are monopolizing on to create the false appearance of being silenced. You literally have Pastor Rob paying for you to put out these shit takes and pieces.
Rach goes on to further write: “motion after motion was passed, with the obligatory question, “Any public comments?” posed to a non-existent audience.” This chick either doesn’t know how public comments work, or is hoping her readers don’t. First, the very fact that she can write this story means she had access to the school board meeting live or via recorded footage, so she is actively part of an audience watching this board meeting. Does she not exist? Is the writer having an existential crisis? Second, public comments are submitted PRIOR to the meeting in a virtual platform, and therefore, had any been submitted for any agenda item (which is posted 72 hours in advance), those public comments would have been heard.
STOP PRETENDING PARENTS WERE BEING SILENCED. This was literally the process throughout the entire last year and no one had an issue with it. No one is showing up banging on city hall's doors while their meetings are virtual ... Y'all want us to believe you were informed enough to organize a group of people to come to the district on a a school board meeting night, but weren't capable of reading instructions for submitting public comments all of a sudden? I know your bulbs don't all shine as brightly as we all wish they did, but you all knew what was up.
Toward the end of the opinion piece presented as an article, Rach touches upon the "disturbance" community members were making outside of the board room. She suggests that the board couldn’t handle the pressure from parents on-site and so they called the cops. Let’s be honest about what that pressure was. These parents were literally screaming, pounding on doors and shaking and rattling the windows. Like that was a thing that actually happened. They could hear it from INSIDE the board room. It was so disruptive that the district leadership was forced to call the police due to the disruption and safety concerns. Seems super weird to leave out that part in her “reporting.” She goes on to state that the police were sympathetic with the parents.
Per a chat with our superintendent on this: “the Chief has been very good to work with. He has been responsive to my feedback and has made adjustments specific to my concerns. The night of the board meeting where they were banging on the windows, he was at the City Council meeting, stepped out to take my call, officers were already there from a Dr. Hayeks' call.” McLaughlin shared that he is finding most officers have no idea how city council/board meeting work and what is considered a meeting disturbance, which is why, at the last meeting, CVUSD SROs from our schools were assigned as they understand more about meetings and school stuff. McLaughlin also shared that the chief did stop in to check in with the board and staff prior to the meeting.” (This has been edited after clarification from the Superintendent was provided).
Then, for safety concerns, the board members exited through the back door to get to their cars, amidst being yelled at by the community members. At a previous meeting, board members were being verbally accosted by these folks as they walked to their cars … so yah, I’d say I could understand why they were taking precautions in protecting themselves from a rowdy crowd that was engaging in district property tampering and verbal harassment.
The piece continues on to a 3rd page with the headline: PARENTS BARRED FROM CVUSD BOARD MEETINGS — Rachel is really getting off on the fear-mongering titles, straight up.
How do I know it was planned? Well, emails were being sent out by CPA, and women from Conservative Moms of Conejo Valley were trying to rally up another protest for the Sept. 14 meeting. I swung by that night to check out their efforts. Five women were there by themselves with "honk for free speech" signs and left after 15 minutes, lol. Anyway.
The paper is also big on its own presentation of history SHOCKINGLY in line with Pastor Rob’s mission to continue white washing history (heard of his program: “Vintage McCoy”? He’s even got a merch line for it — 100% not kidding). The paper features “history” pieces on 1776: “Reviving the Founders’ Patriot Network” and also a piece on "clearing up" the civil war, apparently … which was written by Joel Kilpatrick. Joel, along with Kirk Cameron, the douchenozzle of a d-lister that just won’t quit terrorizing Thousand Oaks, participated in one of McCoy’s “fireside chats” last September. Joel is known for his reporting through the Evangelist Press Association and for a Christian satire website he runs. Not sure why he’s writing history lessons … ?
The rest of the paper is filled to the brim with sob story articles about grown adults who won’t wear a cloth mask inside a store to protect vulnerable fellow community members during a health pandemic. So, there’s that.
I wanted to take a moment to share with you the advertisers in this latest edition:
What is this Conejo Guardian? It's a question I still receive PMs about, as it hits people's driveways.
The paper, and I refuse to call it journalism as it doesn't adhere to basic journalistic best practices, attempts to position itself as an "independent community news source." Rather, "independent biased community takes" feels more appropriate, but perhaps that's because I prefer being honest with the audience you're communicating to.
A little digging, and you'll note this propaganda is far from nonpartisan/neutral.