A local Idaho Senate candidate whose campaign page was taken down as part of a broader Facebook sweep of “movements and organizations tied to violence” on the site says he will continue to campaign without Facebook for the time being.
At least three Facebook pages tied to Eric Parker—his official campaign page, his personal page and the page of his organization Real 3%ers Idaho—were disabled by the website on Wednesday.
Parker, a Republican who lives in Hailey, is challenging Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, for her seat representing District 26.
“It really cut my legs out [from under me],” Parker said of the removal in light of his Senate campaign.
That same day, Facebook released a statement saying it had removed more than 980 groups and 520 pages affiliated with “militia organizations and those encouraging riots” and over 790 groups and 100 pages tied to the right-wing conspiracy theory movement QAnon.
“We have seen growing movements that, while not directly organizing violence, have celebrated violent acts, shown that they have weapons and suggest they will use them, or have individual followers with patterns of violent behavior,” Facebook said in the statement.
A spokesperson for Facebook confirmed to the Idaho Mountain Express on Friday that Parker’s pages were included in that mass removal.
Parker has said repeatedly throughout his campaign for Senate that he does not consider the Real 3%ers Idaho, of which he is the founder and president, to be a “militia.” The Real 3%ers Idaho are a self-described nonpartisan group whose stated mission is to “serve, protect, and defend the Constitution as well as the American people and our way of life.”
Prior to his campaign, Parker rose to prominence through his involvement in the armed standoff with federal agents near the ranch of Nevada cattleman Cliven Bundy in 2014. A widely-circulated image showed Parker lying on a bridge, pointing a long rifle at agents below. He ultimately pleaded guilty to misdemeanor obstruction stemming from the incident.
Parker told the Idaho Mountain Express on Friday that he had attempted to create new pages but had been blocked from doing so on his computer. Parker said he had reached out to Facebook about the matter but had not received a response.
“We’re all completely banned and locked out and we’re not allowed to start a new account,” Parker said.
Parker said he may ask a friend to create new accounts for him on a different computer with a different IP address. In the meantime, he plans to continue his Senate campaign offline.
“I wasn’t going to go door-to-door” due to COVID-19, Parker said. “I really had mixed feelings about that. Some people have said I should, but I don’t want to. Not right now.”
For now, Parker said he plans to continue talking to voters over the phone, holding in-person meetings with local business owners and sharing campaign information on his official campaign website.
“I’m going to keep going,” Parker said. “I don’t know what else I can do.”