Chief strategist for Utah never-Trump politician Evan McMullin arrested for attempting to solicit sex from a minor on Snapchat

“I would like to do more but we can take it one step at a time and if I start doing anything you don’t want to do we can stop. I’ll walk you through it."


The chief strategist for Evan McMullin's 2016 presidential campaign has been arrested on child sex abuse charges in Florida. Joel Searby served on McMullin's campaign and has been the managing director of the "Forward Party" in Utah. 

Searby, 43, was booked into Alachua County Jail with charges of communication to lure a minor, communication to travel to meet a minor, lewd and lascivious behavior, and using a communication device to commit a felony, per WCJB. The arrest happened after a Snapchat conversation on Wednesday between Searby and a 15-year-old boy. Searby started asking the teen if he ever had a crush on an older male.  

The former never-Trump McMullin strategist then told the teenager about a sexual encounter he had with an older man when he was younger. Searby sent multiple photos to the boy with his face obscured in the image, including one with his hand in his pants. He then suggested that the teenager sneak out and meet him at Searby's guest home in Florida.  

“Evidence is pretty damning, and it’s scary for me as a parent,” parent Brandy Oldman told the outlet. “If they would’ve got their way with these votes he could be in these schools around our kids, and a lot of kids won’t come forward." 

“In this small town like you don’t expect it to happen here,” Oldman added.  

On Thursday, law enforcement took over the message thread with Searby from the teenage boy. Searby then asked if they could meet up for "yard work" in the messages. The detective, posing as the teenage boy, asked if they would be doing more than just "jerking off." 

“I would like to do more but we can take it one step at a time and if I start doing anything you don’t want to do we can stop. I’ll walk you through it," Searby replied in the chain of messages. Searby was later taken into custody. Aside from his political involvement, Searby was also on the Newberry School Board at the time of the arrest. He represented a charter school campaign group for media interviews.  

In response to the charges and allegations against Searby, the Newberry Education First organization stated, “Education First for Newberry, Inc. is deeply troubled by the arrest of Joel Searby. The allegations against him are gravely serious and contrary to our core values as an organization. We immediately severed all ties with him upon learning of this incident. We will fully cooperate with law enforcement and be of any assistance we can during this difficult time. The safety of our children is and will always be our #1 priority.” 

Searby had been highly involved in political activities aside from McMullin’s 2016 campaign. He has been very active on his Substack, called “New Way Politics.”  

In one of his latest articles, “Five Lessons Learned from Presidential Politics in the Age of Trump,” he wrote about his campaign with McMullin as a never-Trump candiate as well as helping to “form and lead a group called Christians Against Trumpism.” 

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