- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Last spring, Parma High School hired a new football coach: Jarome Bell, a U.S. Navy veteran who coached in Virginia for more than two decades and looked forward to a shot at reviving a program in Idaho, where he loved the mountains and the camping opportunities.
What Parma School District officials may or may not have known — they declined to comment on Bell’s hiring — was that less than a year before taking the job, Bell ran for Congress in Virginia, where he made national headlines for extreme views on punishing voter fraud and staked out hard-right positions as a self-proclaimed “America First” candidate who backed Donald Trump’s baseless claims of a rigged 2020 election.
Bell said the Jan. 6, 2021, rioters in Washington, D.C., “basically went on a guided tour of the Capitol,” The Washington Post reported. He said Ukraine was the aggressor after Russia invaded it, and compared what he called Ukrainian corruption to “Hillary (Clinton)’s deep state and Biden’s regime that stole the election,” The Post reported.
In an interview with the Idaho Statesman last week, Bell defended his comments that people convicted of voter fraud be executed, and stood behind more recent ones, including that President Joe Biden be tried for treason and executed if found guilty.
The Idaho Statesman asked for an interview with Bell, a public employee hired to mentor and coach teenagers, after discovering public statements espousing such views and social media posts using vulgar language while discussing illegal immigration and admonishing political adversaries.
Bell said he moved to Idaho to coach football, not engage in politics, but he hosts a political podcast called “The Radical Republicans.”
“My players don’t even know my politics,” Bell said. “Sometimes I get paid to do a podcast. It’s a colorful podcast, OK. … I speak my opinion. But I don’t speak to my players like that. Absolutely not.”
Congressional campaign drew national attention
Bell said he moved to Idaho last year, shortly after losing the GOP primary to U.S. Rep. Jennifer Kiggans, R-Virginia, who went on to win the general election. It was one of two campaigns he made for a U.S. House seat in Virginia’s 2nd District, losing in the Republican primary in 2020 as well.
He attracted media attention during last year’s campaign for a 2021 tweet that read: “Audit all 50 states. Arrest all involved. Try all involved. Convict all involved. Execute all involved. #MaricopaCountyFraud.”
An audit of votes in Maricopa County, Arizona, did not find evidence of fraud. The audit was conducted by a private firm contracted by Republicans trying to overturn Biden’s victory in the county and state.
Bell defended the tweet last week, saying the statement was prefaced by his belief that voter fraud amounts to treason.
“That’s an accurate statement right there,” he told the Statesman. “Arrest all involved, try all involved, convict, the rule of law. The ultimate punishment for treason in the United States in wartime — because we were still at war with Afghanistan — is the death penalty.”
Bell said media outlets focused on the voter fraud statement while shedding “a bad light” on his campaign because he’s a Black conservative.
“I was one of the biggest threats in the nation to go to Congress, and just like any other liberal publication, they want to, of course, shed the bad light on your campaign and not the good light,” he said.
Bell said his policies included opposing abortion rights and critical race theory, and advocating for school choice and mentorship programs for racial minorities.
The Washington Post reported last year that Bell presented himself as a “socially conservative immigration hard-liner” who perpetuated Trump’s false claims about voter fraud in the 2020 election. The Post also detailed other social media comments from Bell, some of which Facebook flagged for coronavirus misinformation.
Bell advocates for president’s trial, possible execution
Bell said his main focus now is coaching football in Parma, but he remains active online.
This month, Bell said on social media that President Biden should be tried for treason, “then executed if found guilty.” Bell said the message was in reference to allegations that Biden, a Democrat, or his son have “taken bribes from other countries.”
“If you’re saying that that’s, what do you want to call it, an ‘extreme statement,’ then our code is extreme,” Bell said.
Federal code says that treason is levying war against the U.S. or adhering to its enemies, which is punishable by death or imprisonment.
Republicans in Congress are investigating money that Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, received while serving on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. The investigation has not produced evidence that Joe Biden, who was crafting foreign policy related to Ukraine as vice president at the time, benefited from the deals involving his son, according to The Post.
Also this month, Bell posted a message to New York City Mayor Eric Adams in response to a speech in which Adams complained of a lack of federal support to provide services to migrant asylum seekers. Bell told the Democratic mayor to “stop crying like a little b----” and “shut the f--- up.”
“You made your bed, now sleep in the bedbugs f------ (clown emoticon),” Bell wrote in the tweet. “Say it with me, ILLEGAL ALIENS! You are being overrun by ILLEGAL ALIENS.”
Most unauthorized immigrants come to the U.S. from Latin American countries, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
Bell said he wasn’t comparing undocumented immigrants to “bedbugs” in the tweet. Rather, he said that it’s common in the South, where his family is from, to say “you made your bed, now sleep with the bedbugs.” He said it was “crude” to ask whether he uses similar language with his players.
“There’s nothing in there that said that the immigrants were compared to bedbugs,” Bell said. “I don’t even curse at my players. … I don’t even speak to my boys like that.”
Roughly a quarter of residents in Canyon County, where Parma is located, are Hispanic, according to U.S. Census data. The football roster has at least a half-dozen Latino players on it.
Bell said one of his sons is in the U.S. Air Force, another is a heating, ventilation and air conditioning technician and the third is a musical theater performer.
“I raised three great boys, which means I’m a great father,” he said.
Coach says he’s here to ‘rebuild’ program
Parma School District Superintendent Stoney Winston declined to answer questions from the Statesman about Bell’s comments and whether hiring officials were aware of them. Winston said he couldn’t discuss personnel issues.
Bell, who retired from the Navy in 2012, said he was hired to rebuild the football program after a “dismal” performance over the past decade. He is not a teacher at the school, just a coach.
“I saw an opportunity for a rebuild because that’s my specialty, because I do specialize in mentoring kids and rebuilding football programs,” he said. “I didn’t come here to be a politician. I didn’t come here to run for Congress. I didn’t come here to do anything but coach football.”
The Panthers are 0-4 this season and have been outscored 234-6. They lost 67-0 to Marsing last week.
Parma, which plays in the 3A Snake River Valley Conference, finished 1-6 last season, with that one victory snapping a 21-game losing streak.