Former Stanislaus County clerk-recorder Karen Mathews Davis, 67, faces charges that she lied to federal investigators about death threats that she concocted before her run for Congress in 2013 and 2014.
Now a resident of Lodi, Mathews made local headlines in 1994 when she was brutally assaulted at her home by members of an extremist group named Juris Christian Assembly which pressured her as a county official to drop a $416,000 IRS tax lien.
Mathews Davis was arrested last week for making false or fraudulent statements to U.S. Treasury investigators looking into the terrorist threats which were later proven made up. An arrest warrant filed with the U.S. District Court written by Special Agent John N. Hartman suggested that the fake death threats were designed to help her convince the Lodi Police Chief to give her a concealed weapons permit when he typically rarely issues them.
She said in February 2014 that she almost didn't file her candidacy for the 9th Congressional District for fear she would be harmed again. She told the press: "After receiving the threat several weeks ago, I almost dropped out of the race but after prayer and a great amount of support from my husband, I decided I must go forward."
Davis told Hartman that three persons were suspects in her mind, including Steiner, the nephew of a neighbor and a member of her church. At one point she said the handwriting on the envelope looked like her grandson's writing. However, evidence could not be tied to any of them.
The death-threat letters she invented, say investigators, were designed to sound as if it came from the same group that threatened her in 1994. The fake letter read, in part: "This is to serve you with a Notice of Intent that you will not be permitted to run for Congress. The IRS is an illegal entity and you supported they're (sic) collection of taxes from soverign (sic) citizens. The fact that any white citizen has the right to protect they're (sic) homes against any government agency with force is a fact. You will not protect americans from the IRS - you are not trusted. You will be stopped by those who believe in the soverign (sic) rights. A close up shot to your head or to your husband will be final."
A second letter suggested that she wouldn't see her impending hit coming and that her family would be planning her funeral. It also read: "Quit now before it is to (sic) late. No one will be able to protect you from this. We know how to do this. We have followed you and know where you go. Quit now."
One of the letters was addressed to "white bitch," which was a phrase that was used by her assailant during the assault in her garage.
The fake letters were allegedly kept secret from her husband, retired dentist George Davis.
Things weren't adding up about the death threats to Hartman who was assigned to look into the case. Hartman asked Davis is she was suffering from dementia or memory loss and she replied she wasn't but is taking depression medication. According to the warrant affidavit, the San Joaquin County Republican failed a lie detector test and later admitted that she wrote the letters and sent them to herself prior to announcing she was a candidate for that office.
In the 1994 case, Mathews received both verbal and written threats, one with a bullet and note that read: "THE NEXT BULLET WILL BE DIRECTED AT YOUR HEAD!!!" In January 1994 she was jumped in her garage where she was punched and kicked her, cut with a knife and had a gun placed to her head, pulling a trigger three times on an empty chamber. She later said she was sexually assaulted. Mathews Davis eventually revealed that she also was sexually assaulted.
Oregon resident Roger Steiner, her attacker, was convicted and was released after serving 18 years in prison. Eight others were convicted after an 18-month investigation. Steiner has maintained that he was framed and is innocent.
Davis lost her bid for office in June 2014 with only six percent of the vote. Incumbent Jerry McNerney was re-elected. Shortly after the race she released her book, "The Terrorist in My Garage."
Mathews was three times elected as the county clerk and served from 1990 to 2001. She previously served as the Manteca city clerk from 1981 to 1984.