The leaders of the “Calexit” movement announced on Monday they were pulling the plug on their effort to drag California out of the union.
The decision follows months of speculation and negative publicity about one of the campaign organizer’s ties to Russia. Louis J. Marinelli, the 30-year old president of the Yes California movement and a long term proponent of the Golden State’s independence has been living in Russia with his wife and coordinating the campaign from there since September.
Back in December, he even inaugurated the fictional embassy of the Independent Republic of California in Moscow — a hub to boost tourism and foster cultural and economic exchanges between California and Russia.
But, according to vice president Marcus Ruiz Evans who stepped down from his post this week, Marinelli’s private life had become subject to wild speculations about possible links to Russian leader Vladimir Putin and hindered their fundraising efforts.
Several donors backed out amid the still unfolding Trump/Russia scandal, citing fears of being connected to the Kremlin and signatures were slower to come in, Ruiz Evans told the Sacramento Bee.
“People got scared,”he said.“They got spooked by what they saw on the news and pulled out” before adding that he wasn’t aware of dodgy deals between his
In an email to supporters, Marinelli said he was flattered by public support for the campaign but that it wasn’t enough as this time to make it a reality.
“For me, today, my ballot initiative petition drive came to an end,” wrote Marinelli, who repeated a quote from the late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy during his speech at the 1980 Democratic national convention: “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and our dream shall never die.”
The #Calexit movement, which Marinelli often compared to Brexit and to the movement for Scottish independence, gained steam in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory after hundreds of disheartened liberals joined in.
It went from Twitter joke to an organized campaign backed by Hollywood celebrities and Silicon Valley venture capitalists almost overnight, although few in power actually took the campaign seriously.
Other states briefly contemplated their own secession shortly after President Barack Obama’s election in 2008 and his reelection in 2012. Texas, for example, has often threatened to push for a “Texit” during the Obama administration.