I have a sad update for those Legal Insurrection fans who were hoping that California’s move to secede from the union would be successful.

Supporters of the #CalExit ballot measure officially ended their efforts this week.

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.

Part of the problem with the #CalExit efforts involved a key organizer’s ties to…Russia.

The campaign — which already faced an extremely difficult road to California secession — got some bad publicity in December to go along with its incredulous publicity when it was discovered that its leader, Louis Martinelli, actually lives in Russia. Now, Martinelli says he intends to make Russia his new home permanently.

In a farewell statement on the Yes California website, he discussed the difficulty his wife, a Russian national, has had with the U.S. immigration process and his frustration with what he describes as media efforts to undermine the campaign as well as “anti-Russian hysteria.”

“As I have stated in the past, I do not wish to live under the American flag. I do not wish to live under the American political system or within the American economic system. Regardless, I had long planned to eventually return to occupied California and struggle for her independence from the United States so we could build the kind of country that reflects our progressive values. However, while my frustration, disappointment and disillusionment with the United States remains, these feelings now point me in a different direction. I have found in Russia a new happiness, a life without the albatross of frustration and resentment towards ones’ homeland, and a future detached from the partisan divisions and animosity that has thus far engulfed my entire adult life.”

However, for those of you who a sad that California’s electoral votes and progressive influence will remain, there is a silver lining. One of the #CalExit organizers is starting a second group to move another secession measure.

One of the leaders of the group behind the “Calexit” proposal for California secession is making an exit of his own. Marcus Ruiz Evans, co-founder of Yes California, announced today that he is leaving the group in order to join a new organization that plans to take over the effort. The move comes as Yes California is being scrutinized both for its ties to Russia and for its lack of fundraising.

Evans is joining the nascent California Freedom Coalition, which plans a similar proposal that would put the question of state independence before voters in 2018 (rather than in both 2018 and 2019 under the current would-be measure).

So, I still may be able to live out the dream of being a foreign correspondent after all!


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