A pro–Donald Trump website that says it raised and distributed roughly $40,000 to send people to the deadly Jan. 6 riot in Washington, DC, funded at least one rioter who claims to have carried a firearm to the US capital.
In December, Joy in Liberty, which claims to “help Patriots work together,” began raising funds to send people to the “Stop the Steal” rally in DC. “Need Help Getting to DC on Jan 6? $27k+ Raised to Offset Travel Costs for Patriots,” the site’s owner said in a Jan. 3 post on TheDonald.win, a pro-Trump message board for Trump supporters created after Reddit banned the r/TheDonald subreddit.
By the day of the rally, the site’s owner, who goes by Thad Williams, claimed to have received and distributed roughly $40,000 via PayPal, bitcoin, and Stripe payments. “I have been able to fund two full buses of people at least,” he boasted.
At least one person who said they received the money bragged about carrying a firearm.
Joy in Liberty’s website said it provided an unknown amount of money to the TDanonDJTJR2024 account on TheDonald.win. The day after the mob attacked the Capitol, that person posted that the only reason they hadn’t started shooting was that Trump didn’t issue a “weapons hot” order.
“We are so excellently tempered of a militia we all stayed concealed carry even when the explosions were heard,” they wrote.
In another post, they said: “There were constitutional carriers all in the crowd. I carried. Both my friends did. I could see plenty less-than-subtle concealed pistols. Now imagine the damage we could have done to the fuckers. AND THAT'S WHY NO MEMBER OF THE DEEP STATE SHALL SLEEP TONIGHT.”
Other people whom Joy in Liberty listed as recipients of its funding recently deleted their Twitter accounts or were banned by the site. Many of them follow the QAnon mass delusion, which claims that a secret cabal of powerful people sexually abuse children and control the world, and that Trump is the only hope for defeating them. Williams shares those beliefs and has a history of posts that detail years spent “researching” QAnon.
“What’s happening right now is the fulfillment of so much of what Q has long described as ‘the plan’ - namely, to allow the 2020 election to be stolen, before using the military intelligence apparatus to bring justice,” Williams wrote on TheDonald.win on Tuesday.
“Thad Williams,” who did not reply to requests for comment, is a pseudonym. Domain registration and hosting records, as well as other information online, suggest that the owner of Joy in Liberty is Easton Nelson Ellsworth, a web developer and marketing consultant who recently relocated from Florida to Washington state.
Ellsworth runs a company called Keyrise LLC and used to offer a service called Visionary Blogging that helped companies and executives use blogging to build their business. The company received a $13,875 Paycheck Protection Program loan in May 2020, according to public records.
The web domain for Visionary Blogging is hosted on the same server as Joy in Liberty as well as other domains that Ellsworth owns. The biographical details of Ellsworth and those revealed by Williams on Joy in Liberty and social media appear to line up: Both recently moved from Florida to Washington state, grew up in Utah, and make a living building websites.
In response to the attempted coup, PayPal and Stripe banned Joy in Liberty’s accounts, and the website deleted information from its homepage about funding rally attendees. It also removed links from its homepage to sites dedicated to the QAnon mass delusion.
“Joy In Liberty supports President Trump in denouncing all forms of violence and condemning the senseless acts of violence committed yesterday in Washington DC,” read a statement posted to its homepage on Jan. 7. “True joy in liberty comes by living peacefully.”
On TheDonald.win, however, Joy in Liberty struck a different tone, asking, “Any pedes know a good lawyer? I've had over $2000 seized by PayPal and Stripe.”