History of ‘Freedom County’

Herald staff

Here are some of the significant events in the history of the proposed Freedom County:

  • 1993 — Backers begin circulating petitions to carve out a new county from most of north Snohomish County.

  • 1994 — Supporters announce in January that they have collected more than 12,000 signatures, sufficient, they claim, to form Freedom County.

  • 1995 — Freedom County presents the signatures to the Legislature in April. Thom Satterlee and David Guadalupe later claim they were "elected" Freedom County commissioners on the bus trip to Olympia .

  • September 1995 — Thom Satterlee runs for the Snohomish County charter review commission. He also mounts a referendum challenge to a newly enacted county ethics ordinance, an action that goes nowhere but puts the law on hold during much of the election season.

  • December 1995 — Satterlee loses his charter commission bid. He joins other disgruntled candidates in a lawsuit alleging that Snohomish County elections officials used computers to manipulate vote results. A Snohomish County judge tosses out the complaint.

  • January 1996 — Satterlee claims the Snohomish County auditor mishandled petitions from Freedom County after being asked by the state to check the validity of the signatures. The auditor found more than 2,400 signatures were from people who weren’t registered to vote, or had signed twice, or did not live within the boundaries of the proposed new county.

  • May 1996 — David Guadalupe writes Snohomish County officials, challenging the display of gold-fringed U.S. flags in county courtrooms. Guadalupe says he believes the country is under martial law and that fringe flags are symbols of tyranny. Guadalupe’s letter to county officials warns they must address him as "David Peter, Guadalupe," because to do otherwise is to use his "nom de guerre (war name)" and "that is grounds for an action for slander."

  • June 1996 — State officials and Satterlee spar over whether the people who signed the Freedom County petitions should be counted even if they are not registered to vote. Satterlee maintains the state Constitution places no voter registration requirement on "electors." Auditors admit they overlooked about 900 signatures that should have been counted, but not for the reason raised by Satterlee.

  • April 1997 — Satterlee and another Freedom County backer asks the United Nations to launch an investigation, alleging backers of the proposed new county have had their rights trampled upon by state and federal officials who refuse to assist them in creating their secessionist county. They allege violation of international treaties, and want the U.N. to impose sanctions, including a possible economic boycott.

  • June 1997 — U.S. Secret Service agents confiscate "public wealth rebate notes" that Satterlee attempted to redeem at a local bank, in part to fund Freedom County. The notes, which have a purported face value of $38 million, supposedly get their value from liens filed by anti-government activists against federal officials.

  • July 1997 — Satterlee comes to the aid of a critic of the Internal Revenue Service who has barraged Sheriff Rick Bart and others with self-generated criminal complaints and arrest warrants. He joins the man in court hearings, and also affixes his personal seal on documents the man has filed, calling for a grand jury investigation. Satterlee’s seal features his name under the words "Bishop of the Way" and "Yoshua’s Talmadin." Satterlee declines to explain the seal, except to say that he is a bishop in a Judeo-Christian religion, which he wouldn’t further identify.

  • November 1997 — A Snohomish County judge dismisses a lawsuit brought on behalf of Freedom County by Satterlee and Guadalupe. The pair claimed Snohomish County owed them $125,000 for work they’d done representing constituents in their breakaway group. They also sought a legal claim to all public and private property in Snohomish County. The judge rules that Freedom County does not exist.

  • December 1997 — The state Supreme Court refuses to hear a lawsuit brought by Satterlee and Guadalupe attempting to overturn the Snohomish County judge’s ruling. "Having studied the pleadings field by Mr. Guadalupe and Mr. Satterlee, which are in the main legally incoherent despite a heavy larding of pseudo-legal rhetoric, I find no basis to grant a stay," a Supreme Court commissioner wrote. A federal case brought by the pair also is tossed out.

  • February 1998 — The state Supreme Court rules in the case of Cedar County, a secessionist government proposed for King County. The state’s highest court holds that simply gathering signatures and presenting them to legislators does not bring a county into existence. The court also finds that only the signatures of registered voters can be counted when reviewing petitions to form a new county. The ruling means that Freedom County not only doesn’t exist, but backers were roughly 5,700 signatures short of the required number when they presented them to lawmakers in 1995.

  • April 1999 — The state Court of Appeals rules that Freedom County does not exist.

  • September 1999 — Satterlee sends warning notices to Gov. Gary Locke, Snohomish County Executive Bob Drewel and others, threatening a forceful attempt to seize their homes if they don’t recognize Freedom County. The state attorney general warns him in writing that threats against public officials could result in felony charges.

  • January 2000 — The state Supreme Court dismisses another case brought by Satterlee and Guadalupe. "Once again, David Peter Guadalupe and Thom Satterlee invite this court to step through the looking glass into the strange world of Freedom County. On behalf of the court, I decline," a commissioner writes. Justice Richard Sanders, however, files a dissenting opinion saying that the case should be heard because legal questions remain to be resolved in creating new counties.

  • August 2000 — Freedom County backers begin holding public meetings, asserting that the time has come for them to begin taking action as a government. Satterlee sends letters to Snohomish County, claiming that it no longer has authority over land-use, planning and building issues in much of its north end. Satterlee says Freedom County is taking applications to fill the offices of sheriff, auditor, etc.

  • Oct. 23, 2000 — A King County man who calls himself Fnu Lnu takes an oath to serve as Freedom County sheriff. Two other Snohomish County men take similar oaths to serve as coroner and auditor.

  • Oct. 24, 2000 — Fnu Lnu meets with Sheriff Rick Bart and presents him with a notice asserting his authority. He says federal agents are no longer allowed to seize property for back taxes within Freedom County’s alleged boundaries. Bart tells Lnu that Freedom County doesn’t exist, Lnu has no authority, and that he will arrest him if he attempts to act as a law officer.

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