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For just $450, you and Jeff Sessions can honor one of the worst sheriffs in the country
The Claremont Institute plunges headfirst into nihilism
At risk of having you seethe with envy, I’d like to report that I just received my email invitation to “an evening of patriotism and conviviality” at the Claremont Institute next month. For just $450, the invitation says, I can join former Attorney General Jeff Sessions as he and the treason-adjacent think tank “honor the work of longtime patriot and tireless defender of America’s founding principles, Riverside County (California) Sheriff Chad Bianco.”
“Who is Chad Bianco?” you may be wondering. And what did he do that’s worth honoring?
Well. Let me tell you. He’s super honorable. Just explodes with honorableness, like a flash grenade rolled into an elderly couple’s home during a botched warrantless raid. He’s the sort of guy who is compelled by honor to let everyone know that he refused to be vaccinated, and that he wouldn’t get COVID because he’s super fit and trim, unlike all you fat losers. (That is, until he got COVID.)
What else about Chad Bianco is so honorable, and why should you spend $450 to celebrate his honor?
Where to begin?
— We could start with his election. In 2018 Bianco was persuaded by the sheriff’s deputies union to run for sheriff. That union then spent lavishly to elect Bianco and a couple county supervisors. So for $450, you, Jeff Sessions, and far-right, anti-unionClaremont can spend an evening celebrating public employee unions, and perhaps toast a swanky cocktail to how public sector unions exert their political influence to sway elections!
— Bianco is also, as Claremont puts it, a “longtime patriot.” That patriotism goes back at least to 2014, when he was a dues-paying member of the Oath Keepers, the group that had stockpiled guns in Virginia in anticipation of a possible coup to overturn the 2020 election and keep Donald Trump in power. Here’s a photo of Bianco with Derek Kinnison, a member of the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenter militia group who has been indicted for aiding a seditious conspiracy.
For less than the cost of a single coach fare from LAX to D.C. for the purpose of disrupting a pending inauguration, you can party with patriots like Bianco and the high-collar donors who sent busloads of protesters to the Capitol to “stop the steal.”
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— Sheriff Bianco is a firm believer in the Castle Doctrine, or the age-old legal principle that the home should be a place of peace and sanctuary. In August 2021, two dozen of Bianco’s deputies conducted a raid on an elderly couple in search of marijuana. The deputies apparently suspected that the couple’s unusually low energy consumption was evidence of a marijuana operation — they must have been stealing power from a neighbor. As probable cause, it was thin gruel, which is probably why the deputies didn’t bother getting a warrant. The deputies found no evidence of criminal activity. They then raided another home the couple owned, which also came up empty. As it turns out, the couple had a low energy bill because they had installed solar panels. The county eventually paid them a $136,000 settlement. The deputies didn’t even bother to apologize to the couple, and there’s no public evidence that they were ever disciplined.
For just $450, you too can throw one back in honor of Bianco’s reverence for the Castle Doctrine and his stewardship of public funds!
— Under Bianco’s supervision, the Riverside County jail has repeatedly failed to administer insulin. Diabetics incarcerated at the facility have suffered near-fatal blood sugar spikes due to improper administration of their insulin. One slipped into a coma. (Possibly related: Bianco seems to think diabetes is a moral failing.) Prisoners have also reported being denied medications to treat neurological diseases and mental illness. Pay coup-adjacent Claremont $450, and you too can get all convivial with a man who, as the invitation puts it, “positively influences and engages the Riverside community,” in this case by denying sick and hurting people the medication that eases their suffering!
— There’s also Bianco’s dedication to protecting the sanctity of human life. In 2019, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department trailed only the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department in fatal shootings by deputies, despite the fact that L.A. County has four times the population of Riverside County. In 2019 and 2020 alone, Riverside Sheriff’s deputies fired their guns at county residents 41 times. For comparison, NYPD officers fired their weapons 63 times over those two years. New York has four times the population of Riverside County. To his credit, Bianco has attempted to address the problem — by hiring a PR firm to help make his deputies’ penchant for deadly force more palatable to the public. For less than half a thousand bucks, you can kick back at Claremont as you celebrate Chad Bianco and bask in the pro-life camaraderie.
— Also under Bianco’s leadership, there were 18 deaths at the Riverside County jail in 2022. That’s an all-time record, and double the typical number of deaths each year. The deaths included drug overdoses, suicides, and a trans woman who was choked to death by her cellmate while deputies did nothing. According to one of the multiple lawsuits filed by the families of the deceased, Bianco’s deputies performed “only two of the 24 hourly safety checks of each cell required by law.”
The families also say Bianco’s department refused to release all but the most basic information about their loved ones’ deaths, and didn’t allow them to see remains until months after they had passed. “I’ve been doing this for 13 years,” the attorney for one family told a local newspaper. “My expert witnesses and I have never seen anything like this. They have incompetent staff. And Bianco doesn’t care.”
For less than the cost of getting an abortion for your mistress as you lecture the country about family values, you too can honor a man who prioritizes “God, family, and service,” in that order and, when entrusted with the least among us — people too poor to make bail, people sick enough to need medication to survive — says fuck ‘em, let those people die, and then lies to and withholds information from their desperate families.
Just as Jesus himself would have done.
— Bianco also failed to report those deaths as required by state law. According to one lawsuit, Bianco and his underlings deliberately misclassified these jail deaths as people who had been “sentenced,” when they were actually people who were awaiting trial, and thus still considered innocent, in order to ward off further scrutiny and public criticism.
For a $450 donation to Claremont, you can watch the waves lap beach at the Waterfront Hilton along the Pacific Coast Highway while hobnobbing with a sheriff who honors his commitment to “Service above self” by lying about people who died while entrusted to his care in order to to shirk his responsibility for their deaths. It all sounds quite inspiring!
— The Riverside coroner has also yet to find that any of these deaths were due to the negligence or actions of the corrections officers who report to Bianco. Which sounds like good evidence that Chad Bianco shouldn’t be blamed for these deaths. Except that the Riverside County Coroner is . . . Chad Bianco. In many California counties, the coroner’s office has been merged with the sheriff’s department. For $450, you can join the Claremont Institute and Jeff Sessions to celebrate, as the invitation puts it, “the principles of the American Founding” — principles like . . . the separation of powers!
— Bianco’s enforcement of law and order is also worth honoring. Under Bianco’s supervision, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department is in the bottom 30 percent of California sheriff’s departments when it comes to solving homicides. For about 10 percent of the cost of hiring a private detective to solve the murder of a loved one that Bianco’s agency couldn’t close, you too can tipple with supporters of the January 6th insurrection, as you all sneer at the George Soros-backed prosecutors who keep putting criminals back on the streets . . . as you celebrate a man who’s pretty bad at taking them off the streets in the first place.
— Despite the fact that nearly half of the Riverside County budget goes to its sheriff and prosecutor offices, and despite the law-and-order bravado of Bianco and Riverside County DA Michael Hestrin, Riverside remains one of the most crime-ridden counties in California — in fact, in the entire country. And crime in the county has only risen more since Bianco was elected, beyond even the rise seen in the rest of the country. So have overdose deaths.
And yet for the price of couple hits of fentanyl purchased a corrupt Riverside deputy, you and Bianco can terrify all the old, rich, white Claremont donors with tales of how progressive criminal justice reformers are turning American cities into a Hobbesian nightmare.
— About that fentanyl . . . last month, a Riverside corrections deputy under Bianco’s command was arrested for being high and in possession of an illicit drug while on duty. Three days later, another correction deputy was arrested for coercing female prisoners into performing sexual favors, and for allegedly sexually assaulting one of them. The day after, another Riverside corrections officer was arrested while driving down the interstate, armed, while transporting 44 pounds of illegal narcotics (other reports put the haul at more than 100 pounds).
In just three weeks, for about half the fine a Riverside Deputy would likely have to pay for a misdemeanor conviction, you can salute Chad Bianco in person for his careful oversight of the Riverside jail and his peerless leadership of the deputies who run it.
Look, it’s one thing to celebrate law enforcement officials for taking an aggressively law-and-order approach to the job out of a belief that it’s the best way to promote public safety. I think it’s misguided, but I understand the thinking. It’s another thing — and pretty disgraceful— to celebrate law enforcement officials whose zeal for “order” causes them to turn a blind eye to abuse, corruption, and racism.
But this is all worse than even that. Claremont is celebrating a sheriff who has not only tolerated abuse, overseen rampant misconduct, is the subject of multiple civil rights investigations, and has shown callous indifference to the lives of vulnerable people entrusted to his care . . . he’s also just really shitty at his job. He isn’t making Riverside County any safer.
It isn’t about law and order anymore. It’s about defending brutality and corruption some perverse form of protest. We saw it with the pardon of Joe Arpaio, with the defenses of Derek Chauvin, and when, a few years ago when the far-right Media Research Center “honored” the Baltimore cops who killed Freddie Gray at fancy gala. I understand the argument that those cops shouldn’t have been criminally charged. But it’s pathological to celebrate what they did. It’s just pure, undiluted nihilism.
But that’s where this movement is now. Cruelty is their highest principle. So they honor it — not as a means to a greater end, but for its own sake.
(PS: For terrific ongoing reporting on sheriffs like Bianco, I highly recommend Jessica Pishko’s newsletter, Posse Comitatus.)