HOPES of California performing a ‘Calexit’ and leaving the United States of America in response to Donald Trump entering the White House has taken a blow today.
Support for a state-wide ballot on California going its own way had all but dried up and donations had slowed to a trickle, amid revelations about ties one organiser had to Russia.
While the campaign had got off to a flying start despite critics saying it would never happen – it got state authorisation to begin collecting signatures for access to a ballot – it has now all but fizzled out.
Marcus Ruiz Evans of the Yes California campaign
The Yes California leader Louis Marinelli wrote to supporters in an email: “For me, today, my ballot initiative petition drive came to an end.”
The campaign had hoped to bring the issue of secession to voters on the November 2018 ballot.
If voters agreed to amend the state’s constitution, removing text deeming the republic “inseparable” from the US and declaring the US Constitution to be the “law of the land,” then a follow-up vote to form their own country would take place in March 2019.
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Mr Marinelli’s campaign effectively came to an end after his links to Russia were revealed.
In December he reportedly set up a makeshift embassy in Moscow with Russian nationalists.
He had also been organising the California independence bid from the Russian city of Yekaterinburg where he has lived since September, according to Business Insider.
He said in his email that he was seeking permanent residence in Russia because of his "frustration, disappointment and disillusionment with the United States."
Yes California’s Vice President Marcus Ruiz Evans withdrew the California Nationhood ballot measure and said that he was leaving the group.
However, all is not quite lost yet as Mr Evans also said he was joining the California Freedom Coalition, which he described as a grassroots organisation.
The group now plans to file its own ballot measure in coming weeks said Steve Gonzales, the new group's secretary-treasurer and board member.
Festivalgoer waves a California state flag during the Coachella festival
Mr Gonzales told The Sacramento Bee: “It prevented Yes California from getting any serious money, I can tell you that."
He added that the organisation would not accept any foreign money and contributions from other states must be cleared by the coalition's board.
The coalition would need to collect more than 585,000 signatures to qualify a ballot measure declaring California's independence for the November 2018 ballot. The measure is still being written, Gonzales said.
Congress and 38 states would have had to agree to change the US Constitution to permit California to actually secede.