SALT LAKE CITY — After an investigation into allegations that Matthias Cicotte, former Alaska assistant attorney general, ran a prominent #DezNat Twitter account, the Alaska Department of Law stated Tuesday that Cicotte is no longer employed by the agency, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
Last Wednesday, the Guardian released an investigative piece that identified Cicotte as the person behind Twitter handle @JReubenClark, an anonymous account that has been accused of repeatedly tweeting violent, offensive material targeting and harassing marginalized groups, often using the hashtag #DezNat.
DezNat, short for Deseret Nation or Nationalism, refers to a group of online, self-appointed defenders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes to the point of extremism, harassment and even advocating violence. The hashtag was first used in 2018, advocating for the idea of creating an exclusive Latter-day Saint country in the western United States.
The church has stated that it is not affiliated with and does not support the hashtag and rejects white supremacy and racism.
In June 2019, @JReubenCIark tweeted, "I promise you all one thing: If the woke mob ever comes after me, they're gonna have to get me fired, I'm not resigning."
Cicotte's work before his employment ended was managing legal cases involving the Alaska Department of Corrections. The department has not stated whether he resigned or was fired.
Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor, who is also a Latter-day Saint and, like Cicotte, is a graduate of BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School, removed Cicotte's caseload and reassigned the cases to other employees.
Taylor, who leads the Department of Law, said in a prepared statement that he could not speak about the ongoing confidential investigation with the Alaska's Division of Personnel and Labor Relations, whether it was complete or what it was looking for. However, he did write an email to the members of his department stating that the tweets in question do not "represent the views of the state of Alaska, the Department of Law and certainly do not represent my personal views or my deeply held faith," the Salt Lake Tribune reported Tuesday.
"All people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. The contemptuous views expressed in these tweets, which are based solely on the race, religion, sex, and political identity of others, fall very far from the standard," he continued.
The @JReubenCIark account is still active Wednesday. Yesterday he retweeted a post criticizing BYU's recent study showing that boys who are exposed to princess culture early in life are less likely to develop toxic masculinity. The tweet from #DezNat account @extradeadjcb called for his friends to gather up similar examples to submit to the leadership of the church to invite the leaders to condemn BYU's actions and withdraw their funding of the university.
Tuesday night the account @JReubenClark tweeted, "Will have more thoughts in a few days, but I want to thank everyone who has been praying for me and family. It means a lot to us. The offers of help (from) friends far and near are appreciated, and I am not too proud to accept, just need to figure out what help is needed most rn."
Will have more thoughts in a few days, but I want to thank everyone who has been praying for me and for my family. It means a lot to us. The offers of help friends far and near are appreciated, and I am not too proud to accept, just need to figure out what help is needed most rn.— J. Reuben Clark (@JReubenCIark) July 28, 2021
Calvin Burke, a gay BYU student who has been the target of many of the account's tweets, responded to the loss of employment and its effect on Cicotte's family in a tweet thread. "I get upset when men hide behind 'family' as a reason to not be held accountable," he said, adding that in circumstances like these, "you should not be allowed to have access to your family. They should be being protected FROM you."
He told KSL.com that he wishes people would take this more seriously because "these are not just 'nobodies' on the internet. They are sometimes very powerful men using a cloak of virtual anonymity to commit tangible, real-life harm to vulnerable people."
Cicotte has not responded to multiple requests for comment.