The Department of Justice charged a man who allegedly participated in the Capitol riot and used his charity, the American Phoenix Project, to protest the 2020 presidential election and promote violence, according to court documents.
Alan Hostetter, 56, told the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) he created the American Phoenix Project to spread awareness about vaccines and to protect “human and civil rights” on his May 2020 application, according to the indictment. Hostetter reportedly claimed the election was stolen and promoted violence against political opponents through his tax-exempt nonprofit.
Hostetter was charged with conspiring to stop President Joe Biden’s certification and could face additional charges if he’s found to be in violation of IRS guidelines prohibiting tax-exempt nonprofits from engaging in political activities, the Associated Press reported. Hostetter said the project would not partake in political campaigns in his May 2020 application for tax-exempt status.
“I plan on fighting and fighting and fighting like I always do and having my day in court because what you have seen publicly portrayed in this indictment, I don’t want to go too overboard, but I’ll just say that there is a whole lot more to this story than meets the eye,” Hostetter said Friday.
Hostetter’s American Phoenix Project hosted a “Stop the Steal” rally in December where he said former President Donald Trump should be sworn in for a second term, according to the indictment.
“There must be long prison terms, while execution is the just punishment for the ringleaders of this coup,” Hostetter said at the rally in Huntington Beach, California, according to the indictment.
The American Phoenix Project was listed as a tax-exempt organization with the IRS and registered as a charity with California officials as of Wednesday, according to the AP. Hostetter has not yet been charged for misusing the nonprofit and his attorney, Bilal Essayli, criticized Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors for creating a “false narrative.”
“They throw in really inflammatory rhetoric that they never have to prove in court,” Essayli said, the AP reported. (RELATED: Judge Denies Bail For Two Rioters Charged For Attacking Officer Sicknick At The Capitol Riot)
A tax expert said the DOJ connected messages posted to the American Phoenix Project’s Instagram account to the crimes he was charged with in connection to the Capitol Riot, according to the AP.
Hostetter was arrested on June 10 on charges of conspiring with five men to stop Congress from certifying Biden as president, according to the DOJ. Four of the five men are connected to a militia group known as the Three Percenters.
Hostetter said he thought votes for Trump were “switched” and that “some people at the highest levels need to be made an example of with an execution or two or three,” in a video posted to the American Phoenix Project’s YouTube, according to the indictment.
“Things are going to come to a head in the U.S. in the next several days. Stay tuned!” Hostetter posted to the Project’s Instagram three days before the Capitol riot, the AP reported. He posted a video to the account following the riot and captioned the post “the 2021 version of 1776.”
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