'Hate Crime' Hoax: Political Candidate Admits He Wrote Racist Letter to Himself


A former Umatilla County, Oregon commissioner candidate who claimed a racist letter was left anonymously in his mailbox actually wrote the letter himself, according to police.

In a Monday email, Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston told The Observer that candidate Jonathan Lopez had confessed to writing the hate-filled letter.

“From the onset, this alleged incident has been thoroughly investigated,” Edmiston told the La Grande-based newspaper.

“Our investigation has shown that Mr. Lopez wrote the letter himself and made false statements to the police and on social media. The end result is a verbal and written admission by Mr. Lopez that the letter was fabricated.”

The case will be forwarded to the Umatilla Country District Attorney’s Office for review for initiating a false report, which is a Class A misdemeanor in Oregon, KEPR-TV reported.

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“The time spent on this fictitious claim means time lost on other matters, not to mention it needlessly adds to the incredible tension that exists in our nation today,” Edmiston said in a statement KEPR-TV.

“As a lifelong resident of this diverse community, I’m disgusted someone would try to carelessly advance their personal ambitions at the risk of others,” the local police chief said.

Lopez had allegedly received the letter on June 23 and posted a copy of it on his Facebook page, which has since been deleted, KEPR-TV reported.

“I have lived a life full of obstacles and challenges,” he wrote in the caption, “including racism. There is no room or tolerance of that.”

Do you think there should be legal repercussions for Jonathan Lopez?

“I hold no resentment for whoever wrote this; I’m just simply heartbroken for the lack of knowledge, education and respect missing. I pray for you and wish you prosperity in your life. God bless us all!”

The letter was full of derogatory and racist terms addressed at Lopez.

“Don’t waste your time trying to become anything in this county we will make sure you never win and your family suffers along with all the other f—ing Mexicans in the area,” the letter signed by “America” read.

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Lopez told the East Oregonian that it was a big misunderstanding and he “never meant to mislead” the public.

He said his original goal was to speak with Edmiston about racism in Umatilla County and use the letter as evidence.

“I never meant to file a report, it just kind of spiraled out,” Lopez said.

Lopez placed fourth in the May 2020 primary for a seat on the Umatilla County Board of Commissioners, according to the East Oregonian.

The police are also forwarding information to the district attorney’s office regarding “possible fraudulent statements in Lopez’s entry in the May 2020 voter’s guide about his background and education,” The Observer reported.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith