Republican Denver Riggleman says being labeled a "devotee of Bigfoot erotica" was the most ridiculous thing he's ever experienced, but looking back now he's more shocked at the attempt to label him a white supremacist.
It all began on Sunday night when Riggleman's Democratic opponent for Virginia's 5th congressional district, Leslie Cockburn, alleged that Riggleman "has been exposed as a devotee of Bigfoot erotica," tweeting out a picture from Riggleman's Instagram page.
My opponent Denver Riggleman, running mate of Corey Stewart, was caught on camera campaigning with a white supremacist. Now he has been exposed as a devotee of Bigfoot erotica. This is not what we need on Capitol Hill. pic.twitter.com/0eBvxFd6sG
— Leslie Cockburn (@LeslieCockburn) July 29, 2018
Riggleman, an Air Force veteran, can't utter the phrase "Bigfoot erotica" without chuckling, and his campaign says he hadn't heard the phrase until Sunday night. He says the picture Cockburn took as the proof for her "devotee of Bigfoot erotica" claim was the result of a 14-year-long running joke with his military friends. It all began with a 2004 prank he pulled on his wife, turning what she thought was a surprise trip to a tropical location into a trip to Olympia Forest for a Bigfoot expedition.
Riggleman figured his interest in Bigfoot would become public knowledge once he entered politics—he is quite interested in Bigfoot and his followers, as he explains here—but never thought they would try to attach a sexual element to it.
"It was all a joke, and we thought there was nobody dumb enough to think it was real," Riggleman said in a Tuesday interview. "The Cockburn campaign proved us wrong."
Riggleman says he was even more shocked that she used the absurd Bigfoot erotica claim to grab attention for the other claims she tucked into the post—that he is a "running mate of Corey Stewart" and has been "caught on camera campaigning with a white supremacist."
Riggleman said both claims are blatantly false and accused Cockburn of "marginalizing a real issue with ridiculousness."
"It is the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen," he said. "It's an egregious thing to do when you're trying to conflate something that's a lie, Bigfoot porn or whatever it is, with another lie on white supremacy."
Riggleman had just a few days before Cockburn's Sunday tweet made his views on white supremacists clear in a piece he wrote for the Roanoke Times, "White Supremacists Not Welcome in Charlottesville."
"We should honor the victims who lost their lives last year while remaining ever vigilant against ideologies that espouse hate," he wrote. "There has been talk of another rally being staged this year. I condemn this rally. I condemn the khaki-wearing White Supremacists who attended the rally last year."
Riggleman, who grew up in Charlottesville and later went to University of Virginia on an Air Force scholarship, ended his column by telling white supremacists he doesn't want their vote.
"To any white supremacists intending to come back to Charlottesville on August 12 this year, I say this," he wrote. "You are not welcome. Go back to your cave. Vote for somebody else. I don't want your support, your help, or your vote. This Air Force Vet won't stay silent. If you think that the color of your skin or the religion you practice makes you 'superior' to anyone else in this country, I'm just not your guy."
Riggleman said, as far as he knows, Cockburn's claim is based on a kid who was seen at a public event for his campaign, but that he doesn't know him or what his beliefs are, and has never campaigned with a white supremacist.
"It's a young kid who walked in the office, who was standing against the wall as some newspaper took a picture at a public event," he said. "They don't have anything real to back that up either, so we're trying to guess what they're talking about."
Riggleman came away viewing Cockburn as a "clown," especially given her stated background as an "investigative journalist," a skillset she says has allowed her "to dig into the problems of the 5th District of Virginia."
"You'd think as a former journalist she would have done her due diligence, but she didn't," Riggleman said. "Cockburn comes off looking absolutely ridiculous and unprofessional."
Cockburn has been the target of much criticism over an anti-Israel book she wrote in 1991 that has been used to back up anti-Semitic claims made on websites such as Stormfront, a site used by neo-Nazis and white supremacists.
Published under: 2018 Election