Exclusive: Father of Boston bombing victim supports pipe bomb conspiracy theories

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A Facebook post shared by the father of Boston Marathon bombing victim Jeff Bauman. Screenshot by Matthew Keys for The Desk

In the early hours of an investigation into a string of improvised explosive devices sent through the mail to political and media critics of President Donald Trump, a number of his supporters tried to tackle what precisely was going on by filling in the blanks of absent information with their own idea that the campaign was part of a broader effort led by progressives to sway the upcoming midterm election.

The idea has been floated by a number of established conservative commentators, among them Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Geraldo Rivera — the usual suspects. But a new, surprising voice emerged among them as early as Tuesday when the first set of bombs were discovered by police: The father of Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman.

For the last few years, Jeff Bauman, Sr. has posted conspiracy theory-laden memes targeting immigrants, female sexual harassment victims and former President Obama, often re-distributing caption-laden pictures and “memes” that have been revealed to be misleading or false by reputable organizations. These postings accelerated during Trump’s candidacy and eventual presidency, with the elder Bauman revealing himself as a supporter of the president and an opponent of anything the president himself opposes.

These postings live alongside pictures of his family, including the younger Jeff Bauman whose legs were severed when a pressure cooker bomb detonated near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in 2013, along with messages of support for his son.

Over the last few days, the elder Bauman joined a growing chorus of conservative commentators who suggest the bombs found at the offices of CNN and the homes of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were part of a conspiracy to sway the midterm election in favor of Democratic candidates.

“They’re sending themselves pipe bombs now!” reads one Facebook post shared by Bauman that was originally distributed by a conservative-leaning conspiracy group. In another, an altered photo shows former President Barack Obama pointing to the crotch of former First Lady Michelle Obama with a caption that reads “This is the only suspicious package I see.”

Photo: Matthew Keys/The Desk

When The Desk reached out to Bauman about the posts, he responded with the words “fuck off.” In a follow-up message, Bauman suggested a “piece on Obama and his fuckups or Clinton, something of substance” and asked The Desk not to contact him or his family.

Bauman’s unhinged political rhetoric has caused some in his family — including his own son — to grow distant from him over the last few years, according to a family member who asked The Desk for anonymity because they were afraid of retaliation. The elder Bauman has at times criticized his son’s relationship with anti-war activist Carlos Arredondo, who rendered aid to Bauman immediately after the explosions in Boston, and Bauman’s acceptance of an invitation by former President Obama to appear as a guest at the 2014 State of the Union Address.

The elder Bauman’s posts this week in the wake of the pipe bomb campaign targeting progressive politicians and commentators have further strained relationships with his relatives, the family member said.

“All of this started when he realized the bombers [Djohar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev] were Muslim,” the relative said of Bauman’s conspiracy-laden posts. “He lost his mind after that, but that doesn’t give him reason to say what he’s been saying. He dishonors Jeff when he posts stuff like that.”

Friday morning, authorities in California recovered at least two more postal bombs — one sent to a Democratic lawmaker, another to a prominent progressive fundraiser. As federal authorities there were examining the packages, police in Florida said they had arrested 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc Jr. of Aventura in connection with the postal bomb campaign. A white van recovered as part of the arrest was emblazoned with stickers that revealed support for President Trump and a disdain for mainstream media outlets and progressive politicians and commentators.