Denver Riggleman, a Republican candidate for the U.S. House in Virginia, was accused of being a “devotee of Bigfoot erotica” by his opponent in the race (who also happens to be actress Olivia Wilde’s mom). It’s a charge he denies in an increasingly bizarre and contentious race for Congress.
You can see screenshots of the Bigfoot-related posts from Riggleman’s social media pages later in this article.
Riggleman, a distillery owner and former Air Force intelligence officer, is running for Congress in Virginia’s 5th District against Leslie Cockburn, the Democrat in the race. The contest is to fill the seat vacated by GOP Rep. Tom Garrett, who announced his retirement to seek alcoholism treatment “amid reports he had sent staffers on inappropriate personal errands,” according to Cook Political Report. It’s a seat Democrats are hoping to flip.
Cockburn lobbed the “Bigfoot erotica” accusations at Riggleman on her Twitter page on July 29, 2018, sharing two Instagram posts she said he made that showed censored photos of Bigfoot.
However, according to The Daily Progress, Riggleman told the newspaper “the posts do not originate from ‘Bigfoot erotica,’ but are a joke his military friends played on him.” He also told the newspaper that he never thought the posts “would be used against him politically” and labeled Cockburn’s tweets “absurd.”
Louise Bruce, Cockburn’s campaign manager, responded by doubling down, telling the Daily Progress, “Leslie has been traveling throughout the district meeting with real people about real issues that matter to them. Meanwhile, Mr. Riggleman is home scrubbing his social media of ‘Bigfoot erotica’ and who knows what else.”
Complicating matters, Daily Progress reported that Riggleman has actually co-authored a Bigfoot-related tome called “Bigfoot Exterminators Inc. The Partially Cautionary, Mostly True Tale of Monster Hunt 2006” but reported, via a source, that it’s about people who look for Bigfoot and is not “Bigfoot Erotica.” For her part, Cockburn has come under fire for a book she co-authored that is called “Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the U.S.-Israeli Covert Relationship” and that was accused of being anti-Semitic by the state GOP, according to Daily Progress.
Here’s what you need to know about the Bigfoot accusations:
Riggleman’s Opponent Accused Him of Having a ‘Bigfoot Erotica Collection’
Riggleman’s opponent in the Congressional race, Leslie Cockburn (the mother of actress Olivia Wilde, a former journalist, and an anti-mining activist), made the bizarre claims about Riggleman on her Twitter account on July 29, 2018. “From my opponent Denver Riggleman’s Bigfoot erotica collection,” she wrote with a tweet accompanied by the above image.
Here’s the tweet with her caption:
According to Cockburn’s screenshot, this purported Instagram post of Riggleman read, “My ‘buddies’ thought this pic was fitting for my birthday next week and to celebrate my new book release in about a month or 2… ‘Mating Habits of Bigfoot and Why Woman Want Him.’”
In a second tweet, Cockburn wrote, “My opponent Denver Riggleman, running mate of Corey Stewart, was caught on camera campaigning with a white supremacist. Now he has been exposed as a devotee of Bigfoot erotica. This is not what we need on Capitol Hill.” This is the image that accompanied that tweet:
Here’s that tweet with her caption:
According to Cockburn’s screenshot, the caption for this purported Riggleman Instagram post read, “Cover art for #matinghabitsofbigfoot almost complete. I hide nothing in this magnificent tome. Don’t erase the censor box…”
Riggleman’s Instagram page, which has 17 posts on it, is now set to private. “Own a distillery, consult on DoD matters and had a fun run for Governor. Love whiskey, hate tyranny and embrace liberty. Whiskey Rebellion always!” his profile reads.
It includes a link to the website for Silverback Distillery, which he owns.
Heavy has found more Bigfoot-related posts on Riggleman’s personal Facebook page.
“Many of you know I’m a closeted novelist with interests that can be eclectic. Cover art almost done for my new, exciting and salacious tome: ‘The Mating Habits of Bigfoot and Why Women Want Him’. Here’s a tease,” he wrote on April 12, 2018. Here’s the post:
He wrote in the comment thread, “If this picture makes you too uncomfortable to ‘like’, then I have done my job.” One woman joked, “I am fascinated by his really long thighs,” to which Riggleman replied, “It’s a Bigfoot thing!” He added, “Thighs are very important in Bigfoot Mating Habits.”
He also shared a story about a woman who claimed she saw Bigfoot that also referenced his “new book”:
In the comment thread, Riggleman wrote, “I think people are going to be ‘surprised’ by this book. Very…it’s not just about old Bigfoot.”
The post that shows Bigfoot with Riggleman’s head superimposed over it is still visible on his Facebook page from March 2018:
He’s been referencing the Bigfoot book since 2017, although it’s not clear whether he actually wrote it.
In other Facebook posts, he talks about losing weight, his love for his wife, and a health crisis, writing, “Hello everyone. As most know I had a bizarre heart event back in March 2015, a combination of misdiagnosis and my increasingly expanding backside coupled with bad health habits almost cost me the rest of my life…”
In other posts, he references monkeys or gorillas, sometimes in connection to his distillery. For example, he shared a video that said, “Silverback’s newest creation, Strange Monkey Barrel Finished Gin, is being released on Saturday November 11th” and he shared a joking video of a man surrounded by silverback gorillas, and wrote, “How I met my wife… her former boyfriend should not have visited my troop.”
In 2016, he wrote, “As you know, we are called ‘Silverback Distillery’ and we are proud to support any function that benefits the Virunga National Forest and those awe inspiring gorillas.”
Riggleman Is a Retired Air Force Intelligence Officer Who Reportedly Once Had a Facebook Author Page for the Bigfoot Book
What’s up with the bigfoot book? That’s unclear. According to Cook Political Report, “the most curious element of Riggleman’s background may be a recently-deleted Facebook author page appearing to promote a self-published book titled ‘The Mating Habits of Bigfoot and Why Women Want Him.'”
Heavy has reached out to Denver Riggleman for comment and will update this story if it’s received.
In the July 27, 2018 article, which ran two days before Cockburn’s tweets, Cook Political Report noted that Riggleman’s Instagram account “was once peppered with images of what can only be described as Bigfoot-themed erotic art” and added that one friend chocked it all up to his “offbeat sense of humor.”
Cook Political Report noted that the district tilts slightly for Donald Trump and, thus, Riggleman would normally be the favorite to win but declared the race unpredictable, adding that Riggleman “ran a short-lived campaign for governor last year and has a libertarian streak.”
Riggleman hadn’t addressed his opponent’s Bigfoot erotica accusations on his Twitter page in the hours after she first posted them. His top post is a link to an op-ed in which he rejects white supremacy, writing, “To any white supremacists intending to come back to Charlottesville on August 12 this year, I say this: You are not welcome.” His Facebook page’s top post is the same op-ed. (What’s with the Corey Stewart reference in Cockburn’s tweet? Stewart is the GOP candidate for U.S. Senate in Virginia who was the subject of a CNN article that reported in June 2018: “Virginia Republican Senate nominee Corey Stewart endorsed anti-Semitic congressional candidate Paul Nehlen months after Nehlen shared content from a prominent white nationalist who praised the violent rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.” The article doesn’t mention Riggleman. Cockburn has accused him of not saying he won’t campaign with Stewart.)
His campaign website biography highlights his military experience, saying, “Between 1992 and 1996, Denver served in the United States Air Force (USAF) as a C-141 Starlifter enlisted avionics technician at McGuire AFB, New Jersey. Denver was awarded a scholarship to the University of Virginia in 1996. He graduated in 1998 and then subsequently served as a commissioned officer with the 366th Fighter Wing and 34th Bomb Squadron at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho and in the National Security Agency (NSA) at Fort Meade, Maryland.”
The bio also pitches his small business experience, saying, “Denver Riggleman and his wife, Christine, dreamed for years of starting their own distillery, and in 2013 built, and now operate, Silverback Distillery in Afton, Virginia. Denver and his wife currently distills and distributes Gin, Vodka and Whiskeys. Denver has also been CEO of several defense contracting companies.”
The bio says Riggleman grew up in Manassas, Virginia. According to his Facebook page, Riggleman studied Eastern European Studies/Former Yugoslavia at University of Virginia and went to Stonewall Jackson High School in what he defines as “Bull Run, Virginia.” He lives in Afton, Virginia.
A 2017 article in The Washington Post described Riggleman this way: “As an Air Force intelligence officer after 9/11, he planned bombing raids over Afghanistan. As a small-business man, he overcame maddening bureaucracy to build a distillery outside Charlottesville. As a land owner in the path of a proposed natural gas pipeline, he went toe-to-toe with an energy giant.”
Cockburn’s campaign biography says she was a journalist for decades. “Leslie’s distinguished career in journalism spanned thirty-five years. A producer for CBS News ’60 Minutes’, a correspondent for PBS ‘Frontline’, a Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton, a writer and author, Leslie has won two Emmys, two George Polk Awards, two Columbia Dupont journalism awards, and the Robert F. Kennedy Award,” the bio reads. Her husband, Andrew, is the Washington editor of Harper’s Magazine. According to the bio, the actress Olivia Wilde is one of their three children.