In their efforts to discredit a man who dresses up in a clown suit at public events, drives a limousine to government meetings and who casually discusses his mental health issues, gadfly E.T. Snell's political opponents have taken to calling him a "convicted terrorist."


Which isn't exactly true.


"All I know is that they've classified them as terrorist-related threats," said Anthony Riley, a Hesperia Unified School District school board member who has repeatedly been the focus of Snell's attention.


Snell, who believes that many gay men are pedophiles, has publicly questioned Riley's sexual orientation and challenged him at HUSD board meetings to take a polygraph test in an attempt to prove that he has never committed an act of "sexual perversion."


Meanwhile, Riley is seeking the Republican nomination for the 59th assembly district -- the position previously held by Anthony Adams. And as Snell's activities have stepped up, coinciding with attacks from Al Vogler, the husband of Hesperia city councilwoman Rita Vogler, and candidate Chris Lancaster, Riley's supporters have hit back, referring to Snell in letters to the editor of local newspapers and on online forums as "convicted terrorist E.T. Snell."


In fact, Snell was convicted of "terrorist threats," a misdemeanor, in 1994.


"I used to have a cable TV show and I used to go to the bar every week and I'd buy the ladies [at the bar] flowers and we'd watch the cable TV show," said Snell. He and one of the women in question, Katie McCombs, developed a romantic relationship.


"One day, she comes out in her negligee and fires up a joint in front of her kids. You can't do that."


Snell, outraged that his girlfriend was doing drugs in front of her children, called up McCombs' ex-husband and helped him renegotiate his custody arrangement.


"So she was upset with me." So upset that she went to the police and told them that, during a fight, Snell had threatened to cut her head off.


"So, basically, they went in and filed terrorist threat charges on me. And terrorist threats is imminent threat of bodily harm," he said. "I never told her anything like that. It was all retaliation."


On May 24, Snell paid Claremont private investigator Joe Delia to administer a polygraph test. According to Delia, the polygraph indicated "no deception" when Snell said he did not tell McCombs he was going to cut her head off. A report prepared by Delia indicates the chance of Snell lying about the issue is "less than .01" percent.


Snell's misdemeanor conviction meant a previous suspended sentence for assault was reinstated. As a result, he spent two years in Los Angeles County Jail.


And as opposed to the terrorist threats charge, Snell doesn't dispute the assault conviction.


"I have no sex crimes and no drug [crimes], but short of that, I've whipped everyone's ass from here to Texas," he said. His violent past, he says, is a result of then-undiagnosed bipolar disorder, and not knowing how else to cope with his dramatic mood swings.


"In no way did I ever tell that lady I was going to cut her head off."


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 760-956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.