Earlier this year, election-fraud conspiracy theorist Gregg Phillips shot to fame on the right as one of the stars of 2,000 Mules, conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza’s quasi-documentary attempt to prove the 2020 election was stolen. Since the movie’s release in May, however, Phillips has claimed he has proof of election fraud that was “10 times” bigger than 2,000 Mules.
On Saturday, Phillips vowed to finally release his information in front of a crowd of more than 100 conservative conspiracy theorists and influencers at an exclusive gathering he dubbed “The Pit.” But what was meant to be Phillips’s moment of triumph ended in disaster, as police ushered Phillips from his own afterparty for bringing a gun and warned him not to return.
Phillips’ ouster from his event marks the latest blunder for election-fraud conspiracy theorists. For Phillips and his organization, True the Vote, it’s yet another time they’ve tried and failed to prove election fraud.
Phillips’ weekend initially went according to plan, with a rogue’s gallery of QAnon promoters and other far-right figures meeting at an “undisclosed location” near Scottsdale, Arizona to hear Phillips’ much-hyped announcement. Dubbed “The Ripcord,” as in Phillips’s constant threats to “pulling the ripcord www” and releasing his purported evidence.
The big reveal, however, turned out to be a massive flop, with Phillips merely directing his fans to a partially built website that appears to offer supporters a chance to pay money to see proof of election fraud.
That disappointment didn’t stop Phillips and the conservative pundits in his entourage from heading to Scottsdale’s Hotel Valley Ho for the after-party. Soon after the event began, though, hotel security noticed that Phillips was armed with a gun, a violation of hotel policy.
Phillips refused the security guards’ multiple requests that he leave the party, according to a Scottsdale Police Department email to The Daily Beast. The security guards called the police, who warned Phillips in the parking lot outside the hotel that he needed to leave or face a trespassing charge.
Phillips’ argument with a hotel staffer and several police officers in the parking lot took place in front of several partygoers, who were convinced that Phillips’ Second Amendment rights were being violated.
“You’re lying!” Phillips told the hotel employee in a video of the incident. “You never asked me not to carry on the property!”
While carrying a gun is legal in Arizona, a private business like Hotel Valley Ho is still allowed to ban guns. A spokesman for the Scottsdale Police pointed out to The Daily Beast that a hotel’s liquor license may also effectively ban guns on a property.
Phillips eventually left his party, after acknowledging that returning would mean he would face a trespassing charge, according to police.
The gun fracas has turned into a minor controversy on the right, with Phillips’s fans denouncing the hotel for not letting Phillips carry a gun. State Rep. Mark Finchem (R-AZ), the Republican nominee for Arizona’s secretary of state, tweeted that the Hotel Valley Ho had become the “Woke Valley Ho.”
— Mark Finchem (@RealMarkFinchem) August 14, 2022
“There are far better properties to stay at than this anti-American establishment,” fumed another Twitter user.
Not everyone was on Phillips’ side. On the social media app Telegram, a conspiracy theorist named “ArchiveAnon” complained to his more than 25,000 followers that Phillips’ decision to argue with hotel staff about the gun ruined the party for everyone.
“All Gregg had to do was take his guns and leave the party and everyone else would have been able to enjoy the night,” the Telegram user wrote. “All those people were left stranded and looking for rides on short notice because of Gregg and his obvious desire for attention.”
Worse, according to ArchiveAnon, was the possibility that Phillips’s encounter with police would result in drug-using partygoers from being busted at the event.
“So you brought illegal drugs to the after party?” Phillips countered in a post on Donald Trump social media site TruthSocial. “Idiot.”
While Phillips’ near-arrest may be embarrassing to his movement, it likely isn’t as damaging as the fact that he once again failed to prove election fraud is real. In a video posted to TruthSocial, a Phillips fan who goes by the name Mary Grace acknowledged that some people who believed in Phillips would be disheartened by the event.
“Some people are going to bow out of the fight,” she said in the video. “Some people are going to be discouraged.”