In Facebook ‘town hall,’ Rep. Dana Rohrabacher spreads wild conspiracy theories

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher used a Facebook 'town hall' to spread rumors, innuendos, and outright lies, often going off on wild tangents while answering hand-picked questions.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher regularly referred to undocumented immigrants derisively as “illegals,” told outright lies about voter fraud, and spread baseless rumors about Hillary Clinton during a recent Facebook Live “town hall.” At one point he pondered whether or not one of the constituents who asked him a question was “a fool.”

Unwilling to meet constituents face to face, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) sat in his Washington, D.C., office and answered questions handpicked by his staff on a range of issues, including immigration, building a wall along the southern border, voter fraud, the Russia investigation, gun control, and offshore oil drilling.

When asked a question about sanctuary cities, Rohrabacher used the opportunity to link immigration to criminality. Researchers have explored this alleged link, however, and found “no evidence that crime is higher in cities that become sanctuaries.” Further, the Cato Institute, a traditional GOP ally, found “even illegal immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated than native-born Americans.”

Rohrabacher concludes his answer by saying the federal government should withhold federal funding “no matter what those programs are,” from cities, counties, or states that have declared themselves as “sanctuaries.”

California received nearly $356 billion from the federal government in 2014, all of which Rohrabacher seems to want to withhold from constituents.

When answering a question about voter fraud, Rohrabacher once again peddled false information, saying, “Nobody believes that there’s anybody Republicans are trying to stop from voting by asking for an ID card.” However, a federal court found Republicans in North Carolina drafted laws that claimed to be about preventing voter fraud but would in fact suppress minority voters. The court ruled the bill was designed to “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision.”

Rohrabacher went on to make the wild accusation that Democrats want undocumented immigrants to vote. There is no evidence to support such a salacious claim, as only citizens are allowed to vote.

After the 2016 election, Trump claimed, without any evidence, that millions of undocumented immigrants voted in the election. Rohrabacher parroted those debunked talking points, wondering how many illegal votes were cast in California.

Richard Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine, told Politifact, “There is no credible evidence I have seen to show large numbers of noncitizens voting in U.S. elections anywhere. The idea that 3 million noncitizens could have illegally voted in our elections without being detected is obscenely ludicrous.”

Throughout the “town hall,” Rohrabacher repeatedly brought up Hillary Clinton even though none of the questions pertained to her in any way. In more than one answer, he accused her, without any evidence, of colluding with Russians, and brought up a myth about Clinton selling uranium to Russians, which is simply not true.

The freewheeling conversation confirmed Rohrabacher’s support for both a wall along the border with Mexico and opening the California coast for more offshore oil drilling, repeated falsehoods about the ongoing Russia investigation, and reiterated Rohrabacher’s pro-NRA positions on guns.

It is unclear whether Rohrabacher will hold a town hall in person, as he insists on the existence of a Democratic conspiracy to send “trolls” to such events. Voters will need to decide in November whether or not they want a congressman who prefers to answer hand-picked questions from their Washington, D.C., office rather than interacting face to face with constituents.