John McCaul has been a City Councilor (At-Large) in Taunton, MA, since 2012 (McCaul, n.d.). He is associated with Citizens Organized to Restore Rights (CORR), a New England Christofascist/Christian nationalist formation committed to organizing various unaffiliated groups to support extremist candidates for local seats of government.
McCaul and CORR:
In September 2022, the Taunton Daily Gazette published an article about McCaul’s ties to CORR. In the article he denies being an official “member,” yet as the article states, “at several recorded CORR gatherings McCaul is introduced as or acknowledges being a member” (Schemer, 2022). CORR’s meetings are available to view online and McCaul is present at many of the meetings, often leading the pledge of allegiance and speaking to the audience about how to run for local government. This exchange between McCaul and CORR’s founder David Steinhof at a May 2022 meeting speaks to his close association with the group, and of CORR’s support for his political career:
Steinhof: “I want to bring up John McCaul… John as you know has been a member of our group from the beginning. John is a city councilor in Taunton… John has said the pledge of allegiance [at the beginning of CORR meetings], many of you know him from that. But John is proud to announce at his gatherings that he is a full-fledged member of CORR. And CORR members have gone out there and worked for John, hanging up doorknockers, holding signs, helping with his campaign… Come on up, John!”
McCaul: “CORR means a lot to me, because when you’re running for office you have to get people involved… A lot of people in this room [were there for me]; every time we had a fundraiser we sang the national anthem, we said the pledge of allegiance, and we prayed together. It made my campaign stronger and stronger every day. The reason why I’m saying this is each and every one of you has a really important part to help a person running for office… What happens [is] people see the name CORR [points to logo on the CORR sweatshirt that he is wearing], they’re going to say, ‘What’s CORR all about?’ [And you’ll say] ‘Why don’t you come to our meeting and learn what it’s all about?’… It really touched my heart that each and every one one of you really played an important part in my campaign, and it made me get more aggressive against the people that were running for office… In another year from now I’m going to come back to you and say, ‘Can you help me again?’ and I hope that you’re there with me… We’re a strong team here. And the stronger we get, the message will get out there more and more and more…” (CORR, 2022).
The Gazette article also points out that McCaul has promoted election disinformation: “At a March 21, 2022, meeting, for example, McCaul briefly spoke about the latest COVID variant at the time. He said he feared the variant would be used as pretext for more mail-in voting. ‘I thought about this. That’s how they’re gonna get away with this election again. They are going to try and steal the election,’ McCaul told the crowd” (Schemer, 2022).
McCaul has been accused of making threats against a city resident who posted concerns about him being part of CORR. According to the resident, who filed a complaint with Taunton police after the September 13, 2022, Taunton City Council meeting, McCaul “threatened me with the following quote ‘I better watch my back.” This account was corroborated by two other witnesses (Paiva, 2022).
This was not the only time McCaul has threatened people at City Council meetings. According to a news report, in 2017 McCaul followed someone outside who he had a verbal conflict with during the council meeting, leading the Taunton mayor and a police officer to intervene (Winokoor, 2017).
In October 2020, following a summer of protests over police violence against Black people, McCaul organized a pro-police “Blue Light Night” (Sudborough, 2020).
In September 2022, McCaul posted on Facebook that he is on a committee working to re-elect Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson. Hodgson is a notoriously cruel and hateful sheriff who oversees jails that have significantly higher suicide rates than in other parts of the state (Burrell, 2017). In the 1990s, he set up unpaid chain gangs in the county’s prisons, and in the early 2000s, he charged incarcerated people $5 for every night they spent behind bars to offset costs (Abraham, 2022; Arsenault & Andersen, 2017). In 2017, he proposed sending people incarcerated in Bristol County as forced labor to help build Trump’s border wall with Mexico, and he set up a contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for members of the Sheriff’s Office to be deputized to help deport immigrants (Arsenault & Andersen, 2017; ICE, 2017). In 2021, the federal government terminated a longstanding contract that allowed Bristol County’s jails to serve as immigration detention, after finding Hodgson’s office mistreated immigrants who had been detained (Abraham, 2022; Crimaldi, 2021).
Abraham, Y. (2022, October 22). Finally, Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson has an election opponent. Boston Globe.
Arsenault, M., & Andersen, T. (2017, January 4). Bristol Sheriff offers inmates to build Trump’s Mexico wall. Boston Globe.
Burrell, C. (2017, May 8). Why Is The Suicide Rate In Bristol County Jails So High? GBH News.
CORR – Citizens Organized to Restore Rights. (2022, May 2). CORR Mtg 5-2-22 Movie. [Video].
Crimaldi, L. (2021, May 20). Biden administration terminates ICE contract with Bristol Sheriff Thomas Hodgson. Boston Globe.
ICE – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (2017, January 18). Bristol County Sheriff’s Office 287(g) Memorandum of Agreement 2017. Bristol County Sheriff’s Office-U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
McCaul, J. (n.d.). John M. McCaul [LinkedIn page]. LinkedIn. Retrieved October 29, 2022.
Paiva, K. (2022, September 22). Taunton City Councilor accused of making threats against city resident. Fall River Reporter.
Schemer, D. (2022, September 21). Taunton-area officials with ties to ‘alt-lite’ group say they are not members. Taunton Daily Gazette.
SHFA & CORR – Fashalert MA. (n.d.). Retrieved October 26, 2022.
Sudborough, S. (2020, October 19). Taunton city councilor organizes Blue Light Night to show support for police. The Enterprise.
Winokoor, C. (2017, April 12). Concrete plant controversy sparks verbal fireworks at Taunton City Council meeting. WickedLocal.com.