House candidate is accused of liking Bigfoot porn. Critics say there are bigger issues

Republican House candidate Denver Riggleman was accused by his Democratic competitor Leslie Cockburn of being interested in “bigfoot erotica.” Riggleman says it was satirical. His critics say the whole thing is a distraction.
Republican House candidate Denver Riggleman was accused by his Democratic competitor Leslie Cockburn of being interested in “bigfoot erotica.” Riggleman says it was satirical. His critics say the whole thing is a distraction. Twitter/Screenshot

It’s official: Bigfoot porn is now a campaign issue in a race for the U.S. House of Representatives.

That’s right. Bigfoot porn.

On Sunday night, Democratic candidate for Virginia’s 5th Congressional District Leslie Cockburn posted screenshots from the Instagram page of her Republican opponent Denver Riggleman. One screenshot shows a hairy, sketched bigfoot with a long black “censored” bar between its legs.

“Cover art for #matinghabitsofbigfoot almost complete,” the caption reads. “I hide nothing in this magnificent tome. Don’t erase the censor box...”

In the tweet, Cockburn wrote that Riggleman “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.”

Bigfoot erotica is a subgenre of erotic fiction that has been popularized mostly by self-publishing authors on sites such as Amazon. The works are often written as tongue-in-cheek satires, though some are written to appeal to certain fetishes. Buzzfeed compiled a humorous list of erotic bigfoot stories (Warning: This link contains sexually explicit language) in 2014.

Riggleman dismissed the tweet and said it was a misunderstanding of an inside joke he shared with friends. He had co-authored a non-erotic book about bigfoot-hunters called “Bigfoot Exterminators, Inc.: The Partially Cautionary, Mostly True Tale of Monster Hunt 2006,” Vox reported.

“I was military intelligence, so when you travel around the country and the world, people bring up very bizarre things and then when you start questioning them about it, you realize that they have these different belief systems,” he told VICE. “I just was very interested in why these people believe in Bigfoot ... then (my) military pals thought it was hilarious. And this became a 14-year running sort of satire and joke, between me and my pals.”

He told the Washington Post he didn’t believe Bigfoot was real and joked that he didn’t “want to alienate any Bigfoot voters.”

In an interview with the Associated Press, Cockburn called the bigfoot images “very disturbing” and said “I think everyone should just look at them to see who this candidate is.” Riggleman told the AP he found the whole thing hilarious and added that “when people are desperate they do desperate things.”

But many thousands of people have taken the posts seriously — or at least are using them as a prime comedic opportunity. The story trended on Twitter Monday afternoon.

Even some of Riggleman’s critics didn’t think there was anything funny about Cockburn’s tweet. They pointed to the accusation at the beginning of the message: that Riggleman had been caught “campaigning with a white supremacist.”

Cockburn did not name the supposed white supremacist she wrote Riggleman was spotted with.

Riggleman’s unwillingness to say whether or not he supported Corey Stewart, a Senate candidate who compared the removal of Confederate monuments to “ISIS” and attended a press conference with Smith, raised flags for some.

Virginia Democratic Party Chairwoman Susan Swecker also said Riggleman had campaigned with Isaac Smith, who is co-founder of the organization Unity and Security for America, which is flagged as a “nativist, white nationalist group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“By rolling out the welcome mat to white nationalist Isaac Smith, Denver’s made it clear where he stands on hate and bigotry. Denver might as well stop dodging whether he stands with Corey Stewart as he has now shown Virginians he is proud to campaign with destructive bigots like Isaac Smith,” Swecker said in a statement.

In a July 25 column for the Roanoke Times, Riggleman condemned white supremacists and told them to vote for someone else.

I condemn the khaki-wearing White Supremacists who attended the rally last year. The country in which we live should be a shining beacon of freedom. Neo-Nazis are cultural parasites ... Go back to your cave. Vote for somebody else. I don’t want your support, your help, or your vote.”