In December, Mark Middleton was selected by fellow Republicans in Cooke County, Texas to serve as a precinct chair, an official tasked with juicing GOP turnout in his district. A month later, on January 6, the feds say he and his wife stormed the Capitol and assaulted cops as part of the attempt to stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s election victory.
Two weeks after that, he served as a poll worker for a special election in Cooke County.
Middleton and his wife, Jalise, were charged with several counts, including assault, obstruction of justice, and violent entry. The couple were in D.C. on Jan. 6 and posted several videos and photos to Facebook detailing their involvement in the riot, according to an FBI affidavit. (They’ve pleaded not guilty.)
Mark Middleton, for example, posted a video from the Capitol in which he said he and his wife were “on the front lines” and that they “helped push down the barriers,” according to the affidavit. In one of the comments, Mark Middleton said he and his wife didn’t storm the Capitol, but in response to someone on her own page asking if she was safe, Jalise Middleton wrote: “Ya we were the first group to storm the capital. Just bruised and pepper-sprayed.”
In police body camera footage cited in the affidavit, Middleton is allegedly shown pushing against police barricades with his body as officers order him to get back, yelling “Fuck you!” at the cops. The footage then allegedly shows Middleton grabbing an officer’s wrist and pulling his body forward, while Jalise Middleton “repeatedly grabs and strikes” the cop “over the barricade with her hand.”
The Middletons were arrested April 21 and released from a local jail the following day, the Dallas Morning News reported.
But Mark Middleton’s involvement in right-wing politics goes beyond the Capitol riot. In December, he was selected by fellow Republicans to serve as a precinct chair in Cooke County in North Texas, the Dallas Observer reported this week. No Democrat has won Cooke County in more than 50 years, and in 2020, former President Donald Trump won 82 percent of the roughly 18,000 votes cast there.
Middleton is still listed as the 14th Precinct Chair on the county party’s website. Precinct chairs are a volunteer position tasked with “identifying, registering, informing, and turning out voters” in order to “maximize the Republican vote,” according to an application to fill a precinct chair vacancy. The position also includes a role on the county party’s executive committee.
While precinct chairs are usually elected in primaries in even-numbered years, Middleton was appointed to fill a vacancy after volunteering with the party last year, McNamara told CNN. Because there’s no avenue to remove a precinct chair, Middleton can serve out the rest of his term until it expires in March 2022, McNamara told the Observer and CNN.
In addition to serving as a Republican precinct chair, Middleton worked as an election clerk in both the November general election and a special election on January 23 to fill a Texas House seat, Cooke County Clerk Pam Harrison told VICE News. Election clerks take an oath, according to a handbook for election judges and clerks prepared by the Texas Secretary of State’s office, and they “help the judge set up the polling location, accept and qualify the voters and make sure the voter gets the correct ballot by having the voter choose a ballot,” Harrison said in an email.
A selfie included in court documents also seemed to show Mark and Jalise Middleton with another former local election clerk on the Capitol grounds, the Dallas Observer reported.
Cooke County Democratic Party chair John Angus told the Observer that the fact that Middleton worked at the polls “sticks in [his] craw.”
“This whole thing was about overturning an election by force that was certified by 50 states, many of whom were run by Republicans,” he said.
“So I don’t want anybody like that, to be honest, to be anywhere near our election polls. Not at all.”
McNamara indicated he was surprised at Middleton’s involvement, and told CNN that he “never got extreme vibes” from the precinct chair.
“We were aware that he went up to D.C. in January, but he assured us that he didn’t participate in any of the insurrection activities,” McNamara told the Observer. “And of course, the party, and me especially, we don’t condone anything that he’s been accused of.”
At least 400 people have been arrested in connection to the Capitol riot so far, CNN reported earlier this week.