An anti-gay activist in Montana who describes himself as a pastor says that the six theft, fraud and conspiracy charges he was slapped with may have been the work of gay activists.
Harris Himes turned himself into law enforcement on Wednesday after he learned that there were bench warrants out for him and James "Jeb" Bryant by the state's Office of the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance. The six felony charges included "theft, fraud, conspiracy to commit both, failure to register a security and failure to register as a salesman of same," according to the Ravalli Republic.
He posted the $10,000 bail shortly after the hearing.
From the Missoulian, the charges relate to a business deal that allegedly swindled an investor out of his inheritance:
In 2008, the two allegedly promised a man a 20-percent return on his $150,000 and 5-percent ownership in their company, Duratherm Building Systems. After getting the run-around, the victim claimed he received no monetary return, receipts or certificate of ownership and couldn't get his money back.
Himes refers to himself as a the pastor of the Big Sky Christian Center, though another local pastor disputes this claim, noting that he doesn't have a real congregation. Himes frequently campaigns against gay rights and abortion, and once argued against a non-discrimination ordinance in Missoula because he said it would allow transvestites using the bathroom of either sex. And an investigation by the Republic found that Himes has a ham radio license, and is on a list for the "Valley Watch Network" that discusses patriot and survivalist issues.
Much of this is why, Himes says, the charges may a conspiracy by his opponents.
On Thursday Himes called into the local KGVO radio "Talkback" show to discuss the charges, and said that "unfortunately there is some evidence that shows that this is in fact an opportunity for the gay rights activists to come after me."
"I will say this unequivocally," Himes said. "I am innocent of all charges. I am without sin or guilt with regard to this unnamed person."
Himes also referenced his political opponent State Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen, who he referred to as in favor of gay rights and abortion, who may have had a hand in the charges. "It's very feasible that this is an opportunity, when I consider it a very weak case to be brought by these people, and time will tell."