Fallout continues from Utah tech boss' antisemitic COVID-19 conspiracy email

Dave Bateman, CEO of Entrata, on Sept. 2, 2015. A profoundly antisemitic email authored by the one-time Utah
tech entrepreneur Tuesday morning led to his ouster from the company he founded in 2003 by the end of the day and is continuing to draw widespread national criticism and condemnation.

Dave Bateman, CEO of Entrata, on Sept. 2, 2015. A profoundly antisemitic email authored by the one-time Utah tech entrepreneur Tuesday morning led to his ouster from the company he founded in 2003 by the end of the day and is continuing to draw widespread national criticism and condemnation. (Stacie Scott, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — A profoundly antisemitic email authored by one-time Utah tech entrepreneur Dave Bateman on Tuesday morning led to his ouster from the company he founded in 2003 by the end of the day and is continuing to draw widespread national criticism and condemnation.

The post, mailed to dozens of Utah tech executives, elected officials and other state leaders, claimed COVID-19 vaccines were developed as part of a conspiracy orchestrated by "the Jews" and intended to "euthanize" Americans.

"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." He also added that "for 300 years the Jews have been trying to infiltrate the Catholic Church and place a Jew covertly at the top."

Bateman stepped down from his position as Entrata CEO in December 2020 but, until yesterday, remained chairman of the company's board of directors. Current Entrata CEO Adam Edmunds announced via Twitter on Tuesday afternoon that the company board had asked for, and received, Bateman's resignation.

The Washington Post, Forbes, The Hill, U.K-based The Independent and other national and international publications ran stories on the incident which also drew responses from the Utah tech sector community that roundly disavowed Bateman's viewpoints.

And, Bateman's political contributions have also arisen as a point of debate in at least one upcoming GOP race.

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt added his voice to the national conversation about the content of Bateman's email, thanking the Entrata board for taking action and sharing the hope that Bateman could learn and evolve past the ignorance displayed in his commentary.

"We appreciate the decisive action taken by Entrata," Greenblatt tweeted Tuesday evening. "It's critical that there is accountability for #antisemitism. Now the hard work begins for Bateman — and we hope he is prepared to engage in a process of self-reflection and learning."

The Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City also weighed in Wednesday, tweeting "Anti-semitism has no place in our society and we urge Utah Catholics who hear conspiracy theories suggesting our Jewish brothers and sisters have somehow infiltrated our church or world in some nefarious plot to immediately block any sources that promote such nonsense as factual."

Utah Tech Leads, a political action committee focused on issues important to the state's tech sector posted a pledge page on Tuesday, calling for local tech leaders to signify their commitments to fight antisemitism, racism and discrimination.

"We are creating a coalition of companies to help combat antisemitism, racism, and other discriminatory practices and beliefs within our community," the pledge page reads. "This commitment is more than words. It is a daily choice for tech leaders to seek out opportunities to educate and be educated, to share their understanding with their workforce, and to stand together to protect the values that we so strongly share."

As of Wednesday afternoon, Utah Tech Leads was reporting over 40 local companies and individuals, representing fledgling startups to tech heavyweights, had signed on to the pledge.

Overstock CEO Jonathan Johnson knows something about navigating a Utah tech company through the aftermath of an unraveling leader.

Johnson took over the helm of the e-commerce giant in August 2019 after longtime Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne resigned following days of headlines focused on Byrne's claims of a "deep state" conspiracy related to investigations into the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Byrne also claimed at the time that he had worked surreptitiously on multiple occasions for federal law enforcers and had a relationship with Marina Butina, a Russian national who would serve a brief prison sentence for failing to register as a foreign agent.

Johnson was one of the recipients of Bateman's email, and said he immediately responded, asking Bateman to delete him from the list letting him know he wanted nothing to do with his conspiracy theories. Johnson has also been a forward advocate on COVID-19 immunization efforts, encouraging Overstock employees to get vaccinated and hosting vaccine clinics at Overstock's Midvale headquarters.

Bateman's record as a major contributor to Utah Republican Party candidates and causes, including covering hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees associated with the party's legal fight against a 2014 law, SB54, that allows for candidates to earn their way to ballots by signature gathering as an alternative to the longstanding caucus-convention process, drew calls from Democrats and the United Utah Party for the state's GOP party to sever ties with the man and return donations that funneled through Bateman and Entrata.

In a Facebook posting Tuesday evening, the Utah Republican Party wrote that it condemned antisemitism in the strongest way possible and noted that Bateman, who has reportedly been living in Puerto Rico for at least the last year, was no longer a party member due to his residence outside of the state.

On Wednesday, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Ally Isom, who is mounting a challenge to incumbent Utah Sen. Mike Lee, cited her own outrage over Bateman's email and called for Lee to donate contributions he has received from Bateman to Jewish charities. Federal Election Commission records show Bateman donated $1,500 to Lee's campaign in 2010 and at least $5,000 in 2015.

"Like many Utahns, I am outraged by Dave Bateman's email to business and government leaders. His words are harmful and dangerous. Antisemitic rhetoric has absolutely no place in our community, especially at a time when antisemitic crime has increased. This is a time for responsibility, not excuses. The incumbent may not have complete control over what money comes into his coffers, but he has complete control over where that money goes. I call upon Sen. Lee to make things right and donate Bateman's contributions to Jewish charitable organizations."

"I believe the Republican Party is the party of big ideas and a big tent for all kinds of people, but there is no place for antisemitism or prejudice. Utah deserves better."

The Lee campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Art Raymond

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