May 30th, 2008
12:13 PM ET

Payback time in Eldorado

David Mattingly
360 Correspondent

It looks like payback time in Eldorado. Members of the secluded, polygamist sect felt vindicated yesterday when the Texas Supreme Court agreed state authorities did not have the right to take all 400-plus children into custody. But the FLDS families don't plan to go home quietly. Come November...they plan to vote.

I spoke at length with sect spokesman Willie Jessop about plans to register five to six hundred FLDS voters. Schleicher County has fewer than 19 hundred registered voters and no candidate is safe.

Sheriff David Doran, one of the leaders of the April raid at the YFZ ranch was the leading county vote-getter four years ago with just 903 votes. He's in for the re-election campaign of his life.

The County Commissioner from the precinct where you find the FLDS compound should also be worried. He ran unopposed four years ago and got into office with just 154 votes. Just a couple hundred write-in votes could conceivably land a sect member a seat on the county commission.

Filed under: David Mattingly • FLDS update • Polygamy
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. bob

    I don't know how so many people can get it wrong. You need to read both sides of a story before you can understand it, let alone think you know enough to comment on it.
    The State was unable to come up with any evedence of wrong doing by the vast majority of the people living on this Ranch. The children are very healthy, they behave very well, they are educated, they have excellent hygene, communicate well with others, and they like to help with chores around the house. They are not overweight. They are not couch potatos that play video games all day. None had Std's. Only 5 of 460 people under 18 were pregnant. That is less than the average outside the Ranch. So where is all this sex and child abuse talk coming from??? It's coming from ignorant people persecuting people for belonging to a different church.

    June 2, 2008 at 10:37 am |
  2. Ann

    If you aren't a productive member of society and a law abiding citizen (which I don't think sex abuse or polygamy are lawful) then you shouldn't be allowed to vote. These people are so brainwashed they don't have a clue what is going on in the outside world. And to Karen D....the bible also tells of living according to the laws of man and government....and it says when you become man and wife (singular)...you become one. You cannot put a question mark where God has put a period.

    June 2, 2008 at 10:30 am |
  3. Sam Moore

    Good for them!!!
    The local government had no right to remove ALL the children from their families. This is clearly religious persecution, probably due to the misconceptions and discriminatory ideals of American Christian sects. against a religion they do not approve of.
    I am in no way condoning the marriage of underage children, however 16 year olds often marry adults with the consent of parents. Nor am i condoning the possible rape of any person. But an anonymous phone call does not constitute the removal of 400 children from their families, the local government has cause more damage then necessary. As a non-theist, i find this appualling, although it is par for the course when "religious morals" are mixed with law and government.
    It seems that with the registration of all these Mormons the cycle will continue.

    June 1, 2008 at 10:41 pm |
  4. Alex

    I can see some folks are becoming unnecessarily concerned over this move by Mr. Jessop and members of the FLDS group. Actually, they are making a HUGE mistake if they are trying to get "revenge." The FLDS group will now be forced to accept established rules of society and in doing so, are exposing their previously enjoyed lifestyle to greater scrutiny and control. If they want to take office and prove they are law abiding citizens, do so. But if they think they are somehow going to make up their own rules and force others to live by them...bad, bad idea. The offices they speak of are "County" positions. That means they are open to State and Federal Regulations. People on the outside may have prevviously turned a blind eye to folks who keep to themselves, but open the gates (which they will do should they go down this road) and they may WILL BE biting off more than they are bargaining for. Politicians and Public Officials who violate the law go to jail just as easily as other crooks.
    I know the heads of state and the good people of Texas are not going to allow the FLDS group to run amok in their state. I say to Willie Jessop and the other in his group, be careful what you hope for....it might end up biting you in the ass if you violate the established laws of the land. You could easily now expose your people to dangers and criminal exposure they never faced before. Like the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.

    June 1, 2008 at 8:25 am |
  5. Joshua

    I do not necessarily agree with the beliefs of the FLDS church. However, they are United States Citizens, and THEY are entitled to their beliefs. If the legislation around them does not sit well with THEIR moral beliefs, THEY HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO PROMOTE LEGISLATION, that will better REPRESENT their needs........THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY IS SUPPOSE TO BE ABOUT.

    June 1, 2008 at 2:12 am |
  6. Mike Riley

    Do you know about this??? It's the talk ,heads up!

    Someone called late tonight and was very alarmed about a growing dire situation on the Soboba Indian Reservation in Southern California where there have been recent execution style killings by the Riverside Sheriff’s Department.

    Without betraying confidentiality there is mounting evidence of police corruption on a massive scale, and Bobby Selgado Jr. the Tribal Chairman’s who is a Christian, is fearing for his life after another encounter today with the Sherriff. If what the coroner says is true, this is a major civil rights case that would have huge implications.

    May 31, 2008 at 1:59 pm |
  7. Bill

    The entire episode by law enforcement should have been better orchestrated. We wouldn't expect an overnight decision based on one phone call to involve moving 400 children out of an institution unless all of the children were in immediate physical harm, as in the case of the Jim Jones' cult. FLDS members are not known for drinking poisoned purple cool aid.

    Perhaps it was a media stunt by law enforcement or overzealous opposing religious sects. For example, Why were First Baptist Church buses used to drive away some of the children? Wouldn't school buses have been a less biased means of assistance in the situation? Why, that's a direct conflict of carrying out law enforcement duties with religious organizations. Are there religious sects within that particular local law enforcement community that directly influence the actions taken by law enforcement?

    We've been talking about McClellan and "bubbles" within organizations. This is another case of the same.

    May 31, 2008 at 12:03 pm |
  8. sandra

    I personally do not agree with their lifestyle nor the child bride issue.I also think a properly run CPS has a place in our society to protect truly abused children.HOWEVER, IN THIS CASE, Texas CPS had absolutely no legal right or proof to separate and kidnap those children from their mothers and their home and then place the chidren so far away the families had dificulties in visiting them.There was no proof all these 400 children "were in imminent danger." CPS and the governmental powers that be, simply ignored all their own procedures and laws and unlawfully raided a religious sect they did not approve of {and in doing that, also endangered OUR basic constitutional rights}.. The law states you must have proof of child abuse BEFORE removing a child from the family and it must be done on an individual basis not as a community roundup."Fruit from the poisonous tree" idea and illegally removing them from their mothers, should enable these children to go home with no further hassle or monitoring from CPS. If the CPS is concerned they should investigate individual families and only if they have PROOF. We may disagree on how these children are raised but on the outside looking in- they don't do drugs, robbery or vandalizm. They lead a quiet life with loving mothers. If there is pedeophilia, find the men and prosecute. The leaders should be smart and register every single of age voter in their camp and at the next town election vote out all officials invoved in this mess. Hopefully they have enough members to do that. A class action against CPS for their childrens emotional distress might make that agency take a better look at their operating procedures and put them on notice to "clean up their act."

    May 31, 2008 at 4:13 am |
  9. Eugene Warren

    Cooper – if you really believe that public servants are non-partisan you should get a new job.

    May 31, 2008 at 1:17 am |
  10. Marcus

    I am so proud of these people. Even if it's a publicity stunt, to actually tell the world they're going to vote! Do you know how many times I complain about the way things are and still forget to vote? I have supported them ever since this story broke. I can't say they're right, but the gov't was definitely wrong on this one.

    May 30, 2008 at 11:30 pm |
  11. Annie Kate

    This story just gets more interesting the longer it goes. So now the FLDS is going to participate in the government so they can ensure they can continue with polygamy and marrying off young girls to old men. Somehow I don't think this is what the founding fathers had in mind when our government was formed.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    May 30, 2008 at 10:16 pm |
  12. Charles

    I suspect that like many sex offenders, they will not want attention drawn to them. Once this 'blows over', assuming it does, the group will try very hard to disappear into the woodwork. No attention drawn, trying to stay under the radar, and avoid any scrutiny.

    That is generally the way groups that know they are at variance with the main stream culture operate. Groups that know they are at variance with the mainstream culture but believe they are not doing anything wrong usually have no problem with attention. It attracts more people to the cause.

    May 30, 2008 at 8:36 pm |
  13. KarenD

    "There should be some American or United Nations law that prohibits the teaching of polygamy to children!?"

    Why? Polygamy is not arraigned marriages, child abuse, child brides, any more than monogamy is. Polygamy has been practiced by nearly every culture for thousands of years. Even the Bible refers to it.

    Further, what is getting married, divorced, married, divorced, married again besides serial polygamy?

    BTW, I am a polygamist.

    May 30, 2008 at 6:56 pm |
  14. Mike, Syracuse NY

    It's scary to think that these wackos could take over the local government and be even more secretive after that. Maybe it's time to plant a few spies in the organization in deep cover.

    May 30, 2008 at 5:54 pm |
  15. Nicole

    I'm curious about the sudden interest in registering to vote. Warren Jeffs has directed his group not to have anything to do with apostates and gentiles. Aren't they in violation of his directives now? Or is it just the men being allowed to register to vote? Or is the plan to vote via proxy? If so, considering their practice of false documentation and subverting local civil services, that Texas county better get prepared.

    May 30, 2008 at 5:49 pm |
  16. Barbara - Las Vegas, NV

    What happened to the FLDS just wanting to be left alone?

    They have lived quietly and (apparently) peaceably since they have been in Eldorado, keeping outsiders away with fences & guns. Now they want to run for public office? Do they realize that they will have to represent the entire county, not just FLDS followers? Of course, they won't. Just like the towns at the Arizona border, where the sheriff & all the deputies are followers, they won't care about anybody except FLDS members.

    That isn't democracy, but it is payback.

    It will be interesting to see what happens.

    Keep us updated, David.

    May 30, 2008 at 5:31 pm |
  17. KarenD

    "Polygamy is illegal. How many rights do they have. So…polygamy is illegal .... Polygamy is ILLEGAL." – Vince in CA

    No, Vince, it often is not. See my post on the other discussion.

    May 30, 2008 at 4:28 pm |
  18. Vince in CA

    Kevin~~Polygamy is ILLEGAL. The kids are part of an illegal act that potentially involves child abuse, molestation, and rape. Does a 12 year old girl have to be sodomized and video taped for it to be proof enough. It's called probable cause. Children should not be allowed near any polygamist compound and any adult involving kids in it should be punished. Meaning the kids don't go back to their mom's until prove that the mom was not a devout follower.

    May 30, 2008 at 3:36 pm |
  19. Vince in CA

    Polygamy is illegal. How many rights do they have. So...polygamy is illegal but one of them can be voted on the commision. Wow, democracy at work. Going conservative isn't such a bad idea.

    May 30, 2008 at 3:32 pm |
  20. Kevin

    These kids are obviously not in danger, there have only been three suspicious deaths at the compound in recent years, and none involved children.
    And those pictures of Jeffs with a child bride.... look at it closer..
    There is obviously a double shadow, being cast in un-natural directions.
    I sense a shooter on the grassy knoll.

    what more proof do we need than bunch women pleading for their children's return, stating emphatically when asked if there was sex between adult men and minor girls "not to my knowledge"
    Case solved. Nothing is wrong here.

    May 30, 2008 at 3:31 pm |
  21. Gary Chandler in Canada

    These compounds should not be allowed to exist as 'locked down' camps. There should be some American or United Nations law that prohibits the teaching of polygamy to children!?
    Education should be monitored by outside agencies, as well as child labor laws, minimum wage standards.
    The argument by the 'men' and adults is always they are practising religious freedom, however the children have no freedom to choose, even on basic rights like freedom of movement.
    There is something really wrong for a society to abide by locked down camps where children are being raised. They have a right to they exist is a world where the man in the biggest house is not considered a god!

    May 30, 2008 at 1:36 pm |
  22. Chuck

    I believe that if you follow the money trail, you may find some welfare voilations. I know for sure that if this were in a black community some type of welfare fraud charges would have been filed due to men living in the same household as unwed mothers with kids. Where are the welfare house inspections reports from past. If there were none. Why? As a kid growing up on welfare, I remember our house being inspected for unauthorized men or individuals living or cohabiting with my single parent mom. Due to the fact that multiply marriage is not allowed, how do these men get away with cohabiting with single parent mothers.

    May 30, 2008 at 1:28 pm |
  23. Chris Hota

    Shouldn't we be celebrating this? They've submitted to "the system" and it has told them they were right. Voting is not their only recourse, but it is a perfectly valid one (that they probably should've started on a long time ago).

    The whole situation smacks of Japanese internment. Can we please agree to just leave entire groups of people alone from now on, and go after the individuals that are doing actual wrong in the world (be they rapists, polygamists, murderers, or jay-walkers)?

    Chris Hota
    Little Rock, AR

    May 30, 2008 at 1:08 pm |
  24. Michael, NC

    Whoa, thats a pretty powerful post. I mean, to think that registering these voters could sway the outcome of almost every general election in that county is pretty outstanding. I bet they will use that to their full advantage in the future too. It will be interesting to see how it turns out...great post by David as usual.

    May 30, 2008 at 1:08 pm |
  25. Kristen

    Wow, this is interesting.

    May 30, 2008 at 1:06 pm |
  26. Kent Fitzsimmons,Illinois

    Paybacks are a B. This is similar to what sects did out east somewhere a while back . They could actually vote in people of their sect into office. If they wanted to with their numbers they could run the whole county and some of the towns as was done out east. Hey, if they get their own people in high places no one can touch them.

    May 30, 2008 at 12:50 pm |
  27. Cindy

    Hey...you know what they say: Payback is a "B"!! I guess the elected officials in Eldorado are about to find that out the hard way!! LOL

    May 30, 2008 at 12:37 pm |
  28. Kim

    Scary to think that the FLDS might have enough voters to take over the town. Sure they have the right to vote just like everyone else, but still, with so many members in such a small town, they will eventually hold enough sway to make sure no investigation of their compound is possible and no one can leave if they don’t allow them to…

    May 30, 2008 at 12:27 pm |