MMA fighter turned right wing propagandist Tito Ortiz won a city council seat in Huntington Beach, CA in November, thanks to his populist pro-Trump messaging. That messaging included references to the Qanon conspiracy cult and baseless theories about the origins of COVID-19.
According to The Orange County Register, since being sworn in to public office Ortiz’s ignorant and dangerous rhetoric and actions have showed no signs of slowing down. That outlet reports that Ortiz’s behaviour is starting to ‘cause friction’ at Huntington Beach’s City Hall.
Much of the friction is due to Ortiz’s stance on the current coronavirus pandemic, which Ortiz has previously claimed was some sort of planned population control scheme perpetrated by shadowy deep state boogeymen.
Ortiz spoke about COVID-19 and vaccines at a rally protesting the election of US President-elect Joe Biden on December 13. At that gathering Ortiz said, “I ain’t taking that [coronavirus] vaccine – hell no! Everybody talks about pro-choice and choice of our bodies. Those same people are saying you gotta take a vaccine. To hell with that! Ain’t happening!”
Reportedly Ortiz’s is refusing to wear a mask at City Hall. City Manager Oliver Chi said he was “getting concerns from employees who don’t feel comfortable with that.” Chi also said that Ortiz has been notified about his failure to follow protocol.
Orange County Register reached out to Ortiz to get his comment on this issue. Ortiz sent the paper a bizarre response that claimed, erroneously, that mask mandates were more dangerous than unmasked faces.
In a text message Ortiz wrote: “Wearing masks actually drops the oxygen levels required by the U.S. government, making (the) City of HB libel (sic) for dangerously low air intake levels!”
Ortiz then referred journalists to a US Occupational Safety & Health Administration website describing safety conditions on ships and in shipyards. “Oxygen-deficient atmospheres are the leading cause of confined space fatalities in the shipyard,” read the website. The website listed carbon dioxide, rusting metal and drying paint as contributing factors. Not face masks.
Orange County Register has also learned that Ortiz is seemingly struggling to comprehend the intended nonpartisan nature of his position. Before and after his election victory Ortiz has advanced national Republican Party speaking points and appear at rallies advocating those positions. Since being elected Ortiz has touted his city councillor and mayor pro tem role at these rallies.
Chi said he told Ortiz that, “he can do and say whatever he wants as an individual, but now that he is a representative of the city, please protect the city’s interests.”
Chi, who sits on the Orange County Health Care Agency’s COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force, has also expressed how harmful Ortiz’s rhetoric might be to public health in the county.
“Those of us in leadership positions need to reassure the public that experts have worked very hard to develop safe vaccinations. If we don’t get enough people taking the vaccination, we are not going to be able to return to normal and our businesses will continue to suffer.”
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