RVCA Co-Founder And Ex-Pro Surfer, Conan Hayes Allegedly At Heart Of Pro-Trump ‘Stolen Election’ Movement - Stab Mag
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RVCA Co-Founder And Ex-Pro Surfer, Conan Hayes Allegedly At Heart Of Pro-Trump ‘Stolen Election’ Movement

When Pro Surfers Become Q-Anon.

elsewhere // Aug 18, 2021
Words by Ethan Davis
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Conan Hayes finished 13th on the Championship Tour in 1996. The Hawaiian goofyfoot was a gifted surfer and a core member of the Momentum Generation from Kona on the Big Island who wrapped up his competitive career in 1997 after 62 CT appearances. Now he faces allegations of leaking confidential voter information and conspiring to undermine the legitimacy of the 2020 Presidential election. 

In 2001, Hayes co-founded ‘action-sports boutique’ brand RVCA with business partner, Pat Tenore. RVCA was later acquired by Billabong in 2010 for an estimated $30,000,000, Hayes took a $7.5M payout for relinquishing his equity. Following RVCA’s success, Conan decided it was time to change tack dramatically and began importing children’s toys, operating out of a warehouse in LA. Quite the departure from surfing, he told Surfer in a 2012 interview.

“No one knows what I’m doing now,” he laughs. “I’ve always had a busy mind, and I just kind of fell into this. Going outside of surf was cool. It was starting from scratch. It wasn’t like, ‘I’m a pro surfer, I did this or that.’ I didn’t leverage any relationships, and I like that.”

According to Surfer, Conan never possessed the charismatic charm you might expect from a business savvy, serial entrepreneur. His general demeanour was withdrawn and he preferred to live in relative obscurity away from the spotlight where his doings and dealings would be subject to public scrutiny and discourse. 

Conan Hayes now finds himself at the centre of the Pro-Trump ‘stop-the-steal’ election fraud movement, as a self-appointed detective exposing the rigged voter counting in Antrim County in the swing state of Michigan. According to the Daily Beast, Hayes spent several years lurking in the shadows espousing Q-Anon conspiracy theories on Twitter under the anonymous handle @we_have_risen, amassing more than 40,000 followers on his private twitter page from pro-trump, far right-wing conspiracy theorist circles.

His involvement in the audit case is in reference to the stolen election fantasy promulgated by Republican news outlets accusing mass voter fraud of resulting in Joe Biden’s presidential election. 

On twitter, Hayes described himself as an ‘election expert’, posting photos of a dissected Dominion voting machine that he claimed had a biased ‘source code’ responsible for rigging votes against Trump’s re-election. The Dominion company is now pursuing massive lawsuits against pro-trump outlets for disseminating these false claims. 

Conan. Photo taken from Surfer Magazine.

Hayes’ ability to access confidential voter information was the result of being placed on an independent voter fraud review panel following an erroneous preliminary count announced by a local county clerk. The group called upon ASOG (Allied Security Operations Group) to send in a team of “expert witnesses” to examine voting information and conduct in Antrim County’s Central Lake Township. 

But the group they sent in to review voter fraud were not exactly experts. 

Retired army colonel, Phil Waldron (who would go on to make debunked claims in a congressional hearing) and tech CEO, Doug Logan (who promoted voter fraud claims on twitter), Conan Hayes and other pro-trump, election-truthers formed the review panel. What was produced was a notoriously error-filled report alleging evidence of voter fraud, in part because they had mixed data from the states of Michigan and Minnesota.

Hayes was one of the witnesses on the ASOG report, who signed his name C. James Hayes in an attempt to conceal his identity. At the same time the review was happening, he also was leaking his interpretations of confidential voter information included in the report to his @we_have_risen twitter page. 

At the least unprofessional, his conduct also breached ethics and privacy guidelines that should have immediately precluded him from involvement in the review. “There are professional obligations of impartiality, of professionalism, and someone who is sharing stuff on social media would seem to have a kind of conflict of interest”, said University of Buffalo law professor, James Gardner in an interview with The Daily Beast. 

However, Hayes’ most negligent act came after he supposedly took hard-drives from an audit site in Mesa County. The on-site clerk, Tina Peters, had earlier shared voting machine passwords to a conspiracy site. At the time of the hard drive theft incident, the surveillance system was conveniently turned off. The unauthorized man who claimed to be a ‘subcontractor’ took the hard-drives under the pseudonym of ‘Graham Wood”. Meta-data retrieved from the machine later revealed it was accessed by someone with username ‘cjh’. 

Ty Clevenger, an attorney for one of the other members on the ASOG report has since alleged that Conan James Hayes of the Mesa County breach, is the same Conan James Hayes who co-founded RVCA and once competed at the highest level of professional surfing. 

Hayes’ co-conspirators on the ASOG report decided to distance themselves from him once he began aligning himself with, Dennis Montgomery, an infamous American software designer, otherwise known as, “The man who conned the Pentagon” by selling Federal officials computer programs he claimed would decode secret Al-Qaeda messages hidden in Al Jazeera broadcasts. The software was later reported to have been an elaborate hoax and Montgomery’s former lawyer called him a “con artist” and “habitual liar engaged in fraud” who won millions in federal contracts for his supposed terrorist-exposing intelligence software.

No evidence of election fraud has yet been exposed by Conan or his Q-Anon groupies.

Moral of the story is, don’t stop surfing.

*More to come on this as it develops*

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