Hays D.A. Candidate Scrubs Suspected Coup Planner From His Timeline

Nothing to see here!

One Shot Distillery (with its massive flag mural) is owned by Phil Waldron, a suspected architect of a plan to seize voting machines and keep Donald Trump in office in 2020 (Photo by Jordan Buckley)

This summer, on the eve of 9/11, Hays County district attorney hopeful David Puryear held a fundraiser, yet inspection of the Republican's campaign finance filings and social media posts curiously finds zero evidence of it. Perhaps because the venue for Puryear's event is owned by a suspected chief architect of the coup plot to seize voting machines nationwide in 2020 and refuse surrender of the presidency.

The entry to One Shot Distillery & Brewery in Dripping Springs features a garish mailbox fashioned to resemble a shotgun shell. Nearby sits a children's playground, easily mistaken for a military obstacle course. The bar is inside a two-story edifice painted with a giant Texas flag, a photo of which appeared in The New York Times last December. That's because One Shot's owner Phil Waldron – a retired Army colonel who specialized in information warfare – has emerged as a suspected culprit of scheming to illegally install Trump as head of state in the wake of Joe Biden's decisive electoral victory, as the Times reported.

Late last year, the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol issued Waldron a subpoena to testify regarding a PowerPoint presentation he helped craft in 2020, encouraging Trump to call a national emergency and invalidate every electronic vote across the U.S., as The Washington Post reported. The proposal wound up in the hands of Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows as well as multiple federal lawmakers. Waldron formerly worked in the Defense Intelligence Agency under Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump's national security adviser for a short time, who later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his secret contact with Russian officials. For his part, Flynn – a QAnon devotee to whom Trump eventually gifted a pardon – had championed a similar course to that of Waldron: Impose martial law and deploy the military to "rerun" the election. Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani has testified in court that he is an admirer of Waldron, with whom he has had "substantial dealings."

On Jan. 5, one day before the insurrection, Waldron briefed legislators on Capitol Hill about his vote-fraud concerns – absurd talking points that Trump seemingly parroted – with specific recommendations to "declare national security emergency" and "declare electronic voting in all states invalid," Reuters reported.

Waldron's singular role in urging a concrete blueprint for overthrowing the government surfaced early this year, when the Jan. 6 committee obtained a copy of an executive order drafted for Trump that would have forced the secretary of defense to seize the nation's voting machines and to make a formal assessment of the election's legitimacy – designed to postpone Biden's inauguration. Bernie Kerik – New York City's police chief on 9/11, later the interior minister of Iraq under President Bush, and most recently a member of Trump's legal team – fingered Waldron as the seditionist scheme's originator, Politico reported.

None of that treasonous baggage seemed to initially bother David Puryear, however, in his bid to become Hays County's next top prosecutor. On Sept. 10, Puryear hosted a "9-11 First Responders Tribute and Cigar Smoker & Fundraiser" at One Shot, with sponsorship levels of America First at $2,500, True Patriot at $5,000, and Really Great American at $7,500 – as the Hays County GOP advertised it.

According to Puryear's recent campaign finance filings, no Really Great Americans attended his fundraiser. Nor any True Patriots. For the month of September, the D.A. candidate logged $4,470 in monetary contributions, partly by charging first responders to attend the tribute ostensibly in their honor.

While Puryear acknowledged in-kind gifts on Sept. 10 of $450 worth of "cigars for fundraiser" from the owner of Smokey's Cigar Lounge and $388 of food and dinnerware courtesy of his campaign treasurer, notably missing are any in-kind contributions of whiskey or craft beer from Old Shot. And for Sept. 10 expenditures, Puryear paid $2,300 to a Mexican restaurant (based in Travis County, not Hays) and $560 – with a note: "beverages for fundraiser" – to Esther Schneider, who shares a surname and address with Puryear's treasurer. Asked why they didn't just pay One Shot directly, as they did their caterers – and thereby document in their campaign finance report the distillery made infamous by national media coverage of Waldron's ignoble effort to sabotage democratic rule – Puryear's campaign declined to comment.

Puryear's social media is similarly shy regarding the fundraiser held at the seditionist's bar. His Facebook page is replete with photos from public appearances – yet the Sept. 10 benefit is inexplicably absent.

Kelly Higgins, a progressive Democrat challenging him for the seat, told the Chronicle, "My concern is that Mr. Puryear is either part of the MAGA/J6 movement, which is alarming, or that he is cynically pretending to be part of that movement in order to take their money and secure their votes, which is disgusting. We can't really know for sure because immediately after the September 10 fundraising event there was an attempt to scrub all mention of it from the internet."

Higgins concluded, "Mr. Puryear would like to have his cake and hide it too."

Jordan Buckley is co-founder of progressive Hays County 501(c)(3) Mano Amiga, which he left in January to start Caldwell/Hays Examiner. He is also director of Lost River Film Fest.

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November 2022 Elections, January 6, Donald Trump, Phil Waldron, Hays County

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