Calexit backers drop 1 California secession bid, try again


Supporters of one long-shot bid to make California an independent nation ended their effort on Monday, while another group said it will launch a new campaign for a statewide vote next year.

The drive to make the nation's most populous state its own country, with what would be the world's sixth-largest economy, has drawn extra interest after last year's election of Republican Donald Trump as president.

But the Yes California Independence Campaign faltered after its president, Louis Marinelli, revealed ties to Russia. Marinelli said in a lengthy message to supporters Monday that he is seeking permanent residence in Russia because of his "frustration, disappointment and disillusionment with the United States."

The secretary of state's office confirmed that Marcus Ruiz Evans, the group's vice president, withdrew the California Nationhood ballot measure.

Evans said he was leaving the Yes California group and joining the California Freedom Coalition, which he described as a grassroots organizing effort that evolved since last year's election.

The coalition plans to file its own ballot measure in coming weeks, without the baggage of Marinelli's Russian ties, said Steve Gonzales, the new group's secretary-treasurer and board member.

"It prevented Yes California from getting any serious money, I can tell you that," Gonzales said, noting that he is a native Californian who has never been to Russia. The group will accept no foreign money, and contributions from other states must be cleared by the coalition's board, he said.

The coalition would need to collect more than 585,000 signatures to qualify a ballot measure declaring California's independence for the November 2018 ballot. The measure is still being written, Gonzales said.

Congress and 38 states would have had to agree to change the U.S. Constitution to permit California to actually secede.

Marinelli said Yes California had fewer than 97,500 registered supporters. About 8,500 signed up as volunteers, but only about 1,200 had contributed money.

Prior to Trump's election, the group had fewer than 100 volunteers, Marinelli said, and the group received a social media boost with Trump's election.

Marinelli and Evans said California's overwhelming support of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and measures legalizing recreational marijuana and reducing crime penalties showed how far California voters were removed from the rest of the nation.

They also equated the movement to last year's decision by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, dubbed Brexit. California, with its 39 million residents, is often compared to a nation.

Their withdrawn ballot measure would have allowed voters to repeal a part of the state Constitution saying that California is an inseparable part of the United States next year, but left the question of whether California should become a separate country to a future ballot.

Both Marinelli and Evans claimed credit for starting the Calexit campaign.

Marinelli cited his struggle with U.S. officials since 2012 over his wife's immigration status. He praised California officials for their attempts to shield immigrant residents from deportation and said his wife now has her green card.

When California one day becomes independent, Marinelli wrote, "I shall look forward with great satisfaction to return to California and to live once again under our bear flag."


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation & World

Woman says scammer cleared out her bank account using Venmo
Woman says scammer cleared out her bank account using Venmo

An Atlanta woman said she feels like she’s been “robbed three times” after someone hacked her bank account. >> Read more trending news Pam Clay told WSB-TV someone named “Sally Frazier” transferred thousands of dollars to their account from her account using the popular mobile banking app, Venmo. Clay said the scammer...
What Hollywood’s men are saying about Harvey Weinstein amid sexual harassment allegations
What Hollywood’s men are saying about Harvey Weinstein amid sexual harassment allegations

Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein is accused of multiple sexual assaults and harassment incidents dating back to the 1980s, according to groundbreaking investigations from the New York Times, the New Yorker and other outlets. Actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Lupita Nyong’o, Angelina Jolie, Lena Headey, Lisa...
Florida police find body of missing 3-year-old in water-holding tank
Florida police find body of missing 3-year-old in water-holding tank

Police say a 3-year-old boy from Arlington, Florida, who went missing Sunday while attending a birthday party with friends and family, was found hours later in an underground water-holding tank. >> Read more trending news Police said Amari Harley was reported missing around 4:45 p.m. Sunday after family searched for him when they could...
Janet Jackson fans not happy about Justin Timberlake Super Bowl Halftime show
Janet Jackson fans not happy about Justin Timberlake Super Bowl Halftime show

When Justin Timberlake announced Sunday he would be performing at the 2018 Super Bowl halftime show, the first thought for many was: Will Janet Jackson join Timberlake during the performance? Before the NFL or Timberlake could respond, livid fans took to social media to dispute the league’s decision to give the singer with a halftime spot and...
Wanted Utah mother captured, arrested after 13-day-old son’s death
Wanted Utah mother captured, arrested after 13-day-old son’s death

A Utah woman wanted in connection with the death of her 13-day-old son was arrested in Atlanta, officials said Monday. Authorities found Maria Sullivan, 26, of Sandy, Utah, after she made “some concerning statements” to staff members at Northside Hospital-Cherokee, according to the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff&rsquo...
More Stories