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SALT LAKE CITY — One-time Utah tech entrepreneur and state GOP fundraiser Dave Bateman sent an email to a long list of tech sector executives, elected officials and other state leaders Tuesday claiming "the Jews" are behind the COVID-19 vaccines and part of a "sadistic effort underway to euthanize the American people."
"I write this email knowing that many of you will think I'm crazy after reading it," Bateman wrote in an email sent out early Tuesday morning. "I believe there is a sadistic effort underway to euthanize the American people. It's obvious now. It's undeniable, yet no one is doing anything. Everyone is discounting their own judgment and dismissing their intuition.
"I believe the Jews are behind this."
Bateman is the co-founder of Entrata, a company launched in 2003 that developed a cloud-based software suite that automates many of the tasks that come with managing multifamily developments. Last July, the company said it was processing more than $20 billion in rent payments annually through its platform and serving more than 20,000 apartment communities across the United States.
Entrata announced a $507 million funding round in 2021 and said it's the fastest-growing software company in real estate with over $200 million in annual recurring revenue. Last year, the Lehi-based company reported it had over 2,100 employees and plans are in place to add hundreds more in 2022.
Bateman stepped down from the CEO position in December 2020 and has reportedly been living in Puerto Rico for at least the past year.
As the controversy erupted during the day Tuesday, the Entrata board asked Bateman to resign, which he did.
Bateman earned headlines in 2018 when he offered to cover the legal fees of the Utah Republican Party's legal challenge of SB54, a law the Utah Legislature passed in 2014 that created an alternative path to Utah's long-standing caucus/convention system for securing a party's nomination for elected office. The state GOP's effort to undo the new option for candidates was unsuccessful.
In his email, Bateman also cites further misinformation about COVID-19 including that PCR diagnostic tests are carcinogenic and urges recipients to not get vaccinated.
Bateman also expounds on his antisemitic conspiracy claims.
"For 300 years the Jews have been trying to infiltrate the Catholic Church and place a Jew covertly at the top," Bateman wrote. "It happened in 2013 with Pope Francis. I believe the pandemic and systematic extermination of billions of people will lead to an effort to consolidate all the countries in the world under a single flag with totalitarian rule.
"I know, it sounds bonkers. No one is reporting on it, but the Hasidic Jews in the U.S. instituted a law for their people that they are not to be vaccinated for any reason."
Current Entrata CEO Adam Edmunds posted a response to Bateman's email on his Twitter account Tuesday afternoon.
"Earlier today Dave Bateman, one of our founders, made several highly offensive statements in an email to recipients outside the company," Edmunds wrote. "The opinions expressed by Dave were his alone, and do not reflect the views or values of Entrata, the executive team, board of directors, or investors. To be absolutely clear, we at Entrata firmly condemn antisemitism in any and all forms.
"For those who have seen and been offended or disturbed by the content of Dave's email, we understand and share your disappointment. At Entrata, we respect and support all religions, genders, sexual orientations, races, and beliefs. Diversity and inclusivity are critical to the success and future of Entrata."
Utah tech community leaders also responded to Bateman's email, including Elizabeth Converse, executive director of Silicon Slopes Commons, the advocacy arm of Utah nonprofit tech industry group Silicon Slopes.
"This behavior and sentiment is despicable and does not reflect the attitudes of the Utah tech industry," Converse said in a statement. "It's disconcerting that a former leader in our community is now trying to undermine the hard work our companies have done on two fronts — the COVID-19 response and our ongoing commitment to diversity. We love and support our Jewish brothers and sisters, and know that our industry and our state is better because of their work.
"Additionally, to spread such blatant disinformation in our state when omicron is on the rise makes this kind of language doubly dangerous. Our companies make decisions based in science when it comes to the pandemic, and outright reject the antisemitism the author displayed."
In a later tweet, Edmunds wrote that the company's board had requested, and received, Bateman's resignation.
Entrata's board of directors today asked Dave Bateman to resign from the company's board of directors, including his position as chairman. Dave agreed and is no longer a member of the Entrata board, effective immediately.— Adam Edmunds (@adamedmunds) January 4, 2022
"Entrata's board of directors today asked Dave Bateman to resign from the company's board of directors, including his position as chairman," Edmunds tweeted. "Dave agreed and is no longer a member of the Entrata board, effective immediately."
Blake McClary, product director for financial technology company Paytm, took to Twitter to share his disappointment with Bateman's claims.
"Dave Bateman has been the worst representative of Utah tech for years," McClary wrote. "We all know this. It's time for him to step down from Entrata and enjoy his tax haven in Puerto Rico and not embarrass us."
The United Jewish Federation also responded to Bateman's email in a statement shared with the Deseret News on Tuesday afternoon:
"The United Jewish Federation of Utah condemns an email which was sent this morning by the former CEO and current board member of Entrata, a Utah tech company. The communication was reported by the media and sent directly to CEOs of some of Utah's largest corporations, elected officials and community leaders. The statement contained vile, hyperbolic and untrue accusations against Jews which amplify some of the worst antisemitism in our history. It directly attributes to the Jewish people the responsibility for the deaths of millions of Americans and other repeatedly refuted baseless conspiracy theories about the Jewish people and the COVID epidemic. We believe such statements by influential people in our community contribute to the rising hate crimes and violent attacks against Jews here and abroad.
"The United Jewish Federation of Utah calls on organizations associated with this individual to distance themselves from this individual, who has taken a public and open stance on some of the worse antisemitic tropes in our society. We must accept that any association with this individual and support for his activities only continues to strengthen this type of hate, and reflects by association, on the organizations that he is part."
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said on his government Twitter account that Bateman's comments are "hurtfully anti-Semitic, blatantly false, and we completely reject them."
He weighed in via his popular personal Twitter profile on Tuesday evening.
"Apparently this went to my public email," Cox tweeted. "I get insane emails like this from people often and normally wouldn't dignify it with a response, but I guess it's getting lots of attention.
"I hope he gets some help."
Utah political party leaders also responded to the Bateman email in statements shared with media.
Utah Democratic Party communications director Ben Anderson said the party stands with Utah's Jewish community in disavowing Bateman's comments.
"The statements made in an email from David Bateman, which became public today, are disgusting, unfounded, and dangerous, and the Utah Democratic Party condemns them fully and completely," the statement reads. "This rhetoric perpetuates harmful stereotypes about Jewish people and puts Utah's Jewish community in danger. It is absolutely unacceptable, especially from a leader in the tech community.
"We stand with the Jewish community in disavowing his comments."
Utah Democrats also called for the state's GOP party leaders to take a strong stand on Bateman's email.
"Additionally, Bateman has given hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of support to the Utah GOP. We call on them to publicly condemn and disavow his comments, and return the $55,000 of donations that Entrata has directly given the party since 2017. When it comes to such serious matters as antisemitism, silence is complicity."
And, United Utah Party chairwoman Hillary Stirling decried Bateman's claims and called for Utah Republican leaders to officially sever ties with Bateman.
"This kind of bigotry and ignorance has no place in civilized public discourse," Stirling said in a statement. "David Bateman's antisemitic remarks are a disgrace and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.
"Utah's GOP is tied at the hip with Mr. Bateman, which means they have an ethical responsibility to disavow the poisonous rhetoric being spewed by their most prominent donor. Antisemitism should be offensive to all decent people, regardless of party affiliation."
Tuesday evening, the Utah Republican Party posted a response to Bateman's email on its Facebook page.
"In response to the comments made by a former member of the UTGOP:
"Antisemitism has no place in this party or in our country. It should never be tolerated and is condemned in the strongest way possible.
"This person does not speak for or in behalf of the UTGOP in any way.
"This person does not fundraise in behalf of the UTGOP.
"This person is not a member of the UTGOP, as they do not reside in the state of Utah."
Correction: An earlier version misstated Blake McClary's position as director of product for Divvy. McClary is director of product for Paytm. Also, an earlier version misspelled the name of United Utah Party chairwoman Hillary Stirling.