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Some U.S. legislative state candidates bring QAnon conspiracy theories to campaign trail

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Some U.S. legislative state candidates bring QAnon conspiracy theories to campaign trail

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Candidates engaging with the QAnon conspiracy theory are running for seats in state legislatures this year, breathing more oxygen into a once-obscure conspiracy movement that has grown in prominence since adherents won Republican congressional primaries this year.

Some of the legislative candidates have repeatedly shared QAnon memes and interacted extensively with social media accounts promoting the conspiracy — which is centred on the baseless belief that President Donald Trump is waging a secret campaign against enemies in the “deep state” and a child sex trafficking ring. Others have acted in ways that leave it unclear whether they believe in the theory or may be merely flirting with the ideas to garner attention.

They make up a tiny share of the thousands of state legislative candidates on the ballot in November and many are longshots, but several, including in Arizona, Minnesota and Wisconsin, are running in competitive districts.

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Among those who have engaged with QAnon postings on social media is Dave Armstrong, a Republican candidate for the Wisconsin Assembly. He was asked to run for the seat by the incumbent, a fellow Republican.

While he does not describe himself as a QAnon adherent, he has liked and forwarded videos made by QAnon backers. Armstrong told The Associated Press that he finds core aspects of the conspiracy credible, but not all of it.

“I don’t know if we’ll ever know the answer to that, nor can we prove it,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing with QAnon is you can’t prove any of it.”

John Ellenson, Armstrong’s Democratic opponent for the seat, said it would be “dangerous” to elect Armstrong because he “plays in conspiracies and not the truth.”






GOP candidate with history of QAnon posts once confronted school shooting survivor over gun control


GOP candidate with history of QAnon posts once confronted school shooting survivor over gun control

The conspiracy theory has been creeping into the mainstream political arena. It gained wider attention after Marjorie Taylor Greene won the Republican primary for a U.S. House seat in a heavily GOP Georgia district last month. Greene was invited to the White House for Trump’s acceptance speech during the Republican National Convention.

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Trump has said he knows little about the movement but has spoken favourably of its followers. Vice-President Mike Pence has dismissed it.

While races for congressional seats often generate more publicity, state legislative positions serve as springboards to higher office, and their holders wield significant power to affect everyday life — determining state policies on education, policing, health care, criminal justice and other issues.

As with many conspiracy theories, it’s not always clear how much of it the candidates believe. Through the AP’s statehouse reporters, the non-profit research group Media Matters for America and Democratic groups involved in state legislative races, the news co-operative identified about two dozen candidates in more than a dozen states who have expressed some level of support or interest in QAnon. That number is only the roughest of estimates.

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Some who had shared messages referencing the conspiracy sought to put distance between themselves and the movement when contacted by the AP. Many simply did not return requests for comment — perhaps not surprising given that the movement proclaims the mainstream media is in on the conspiracy.

Among those was Suzanne Sharer, a Republican legislative candidate in the Phoenix area who has posted QAnon videos and messages more than a dozen times in recent months. She is running in a suburban district that once was solidly Republican but has been trending Democratic.

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In April, she wrote: “Q has been quiet. Is this 10 days of darkness?”

Julie Buria, a Republican running in a northern Minnesota legislative district that Trump carried by nearly 3 percentage points in 2016, retweeted at least four posts in April and May that seemed to support QAnon.






White House asked about QAnon conspiracy theorists appearing at Trump rallies


White House asked about QAnon conspiracy theorists appearing at Trump rallies

In one she wrote: “Link to new Q drop” with a link to a QAnon site. The tweet also used several hashtags common to the conspiracy’s followers. But in an interview, Buria insisted she was not very familiar with QAnon.

“Have I looked at it? Yes. Do I believe all of it? No. I’m not really sure what to think about all that,” she said.

Whether or not candidates believe in QAnon, they are lending the ideas legitimacy by sharing them, said Jenny Guzman, legislative communications co-ordinator for Progress Arizona, a liberal group that has worked to draw attention to candidates sharing conspiracy theories.

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“I think that Republicans very clearly know what they’re doing when they’re engaging and spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories,” Guzman said. “But when they get caught, they’re trying to play ignorant because they just don’t want to face accountability for their actions.”

Read more:
Trump backs Marjorie Taylor Greene, QAnon believer on a path to Congress

Most of the legislative candidates identified by the AP as having some history of posting about QAnon are Republicans, though some are independent or third-party candidates.

Some are not shy about their interest in the movement.

On her Twitter account, Melissa Moore has included a picture of Earth inside the letter Q with the slogan, “The World is About to Change,” that is common among the movement’s followers. She has also used several Q-associated hashtags in her tweets. A delegate to the Republican National Convention, she is running in a Democratic-leaning district in suburban Minneapolis.

“I like following it,” Moore said. “It’s an exciting movement that opens up our minds to different possibilities of what’s going on, of what’s really happening in our world today.”






‘Anarchists, rioters’ on plane: Trump echoes months-old Facebook conspiracy theory


‘Anarchists, rioters’ on plane: Trump echoes months-old Facebook conspiracy theory

In Nevada, independent state Assembly candidate John Cardiff Gerhardt also openly embraces the movement.

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He said he suspected government officials, the mainstream media and the criminal justice system were conspiring to cover up human trafficking even before he became familiar with QAnon.

“Hiding behind the curtain where everything seems to be fine and dandy, there’s actually executives, CEOs, pop stars and the top politicians, including the past few presidents before Donald Trump,” said Gerhardt, who is running in a heavily Democratic district of eastern Las Vegas.

Gerhardt said his main focus is to replace the state constitution. A draft proposal integrates elements of the conspiracy, including an official recognition that a “Cabal” is attempting to “control & corrupt the State of Nevada.”

___

Karnowski reported from Minneapolis. Associated Press writers Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin, Sam Metz in Carson City, Nevada, and Geoff Mulvihill in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, contributed.

© 2020 The Canadian Press



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Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories – KTVZ

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Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories - KTVZ

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Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York are calling on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to create a new bipartisan committee focused on election integrity and schedule hearings to reassure Americans over a process President Donald Trump has repeatedly sought to undermine.

There is growing anxiety among Democrats, and some Republicans, that Trump will not only continue to sow doubt over the legitimacy of the coming election but throw the subsequent count into chaos by declaring victory before all the votes can be tallied, including the millions that will arrive by mail.

In a letter to McConnell, Sanders and Schumer quote back the Kentucky senator’s own words, in which he attested to the reliability of mail-in voting by citing its successes in Oregon, Washington and Colorado, which have been using the system for years.

Trump has repeatedly questioned the validity of mail-in voting, promoted conspiracy theories questioning election security, called on supporters to act as unsanctioned “poll watchers,” and suggested that the absence of a clear result by the evening of November 3 would in some way cast doubt on the eventual outcome. Key allies in powerful positions, like Attorney General Bill Barr, have followed suit. Barr has persisted in puffing up a debunked claim that ballots received by mail would somehow strip the sender of their privacy — ignoring well-established safeguards.

By escalating the matter now, Sanders and Schumer are responding to growing concern, in partisan and nonpartisan spaces, that Americans are not adequately prepared for the potential of a longer-than-usual wait for results or Trump’s willingness to short-circuit the democratic process if he smells defeat.

“Democrats and Republicans in Congress must come together to ensure that we have a free and fair election where every vote is cast and counted without intimidation,” Sanders told CNN, “where no one has to put his or her health in danger to cast a ballot, and where we have full confidence in the results.”

The proposed hearings would invite a cross-section of election officials from across the country to testify to the security and reliability of mail-in, early- and in-person voting — subjects on which Sanders and Schumer, again, referenced McConnell’s own words.

“Despite the clear security of our vote-by-mail system, some have continued to undermine it with unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud,” they wrote. “As you have correctly said, people ‘can vote early, you can vote on Election Day, or you can drop it in the mail,’ and that voters should ‘not worry about your vote not counting.’”

The minority leader and Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, also want more detailed discussion about the fraught hours, or days, after the polls close and a real-time watch of the election horse race potentially swings from one candidate to another.

“We know a number of states may well be counting ballots for a period of time after Election Day, and that those votes may be determinative in this election,” the senators wrote to McConnell. “To avoid disinformation, conspiracy theories, and suspicion about results, we must understand the likely timeline for this process.”

The letter goes on to reference the recent war games-style preparations conducted by a group called the Transition Integrity Project, a bipartisan gathering of operatives and academics that made headlines when some of the outcomes of their exercises — including “both street-level violence and political impasse” — were reported on in late July.

“A bipartisan group of experts and officials have studied multiple scenarios where the outcome of the election was not immediately known. Some of these scenarios resulted in unrest and even violence,” Sanders and Schumer wrote, suggesting the Senate should elevate similar discussions and familiarize the public with the uncertainties ahead. “We would like to hear from the most knowledgeable people in the country as to how we can do everything possible to make sure that the election and the period afterward is secure and peaceful.”

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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video

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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video

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HHS supported Caputo, with a statement that called him a critical, integral part of the presidents coronavirus response, leading on public messaging as Americans need public health information to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.

There was no immediate statement from the White House.

Attempts to reach Caputo were unsuccessful.

On Capitol Hill, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., called on Azar to fire Caputo, accusing the spokesman of trying to interfere with CDC reports to the medical and scientific community, as well as the public at large. And Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called on Azar himself to resign, citing interference with the CDC as one example of what he termed the administration’s failures.

Officials at CDC have privately complained of recent efforts by political appointees at main HHS to try to edit or press for changes in the agency’s weekly MMWR publications, a go-to resource for public health professionals.

MMWR articles are technical, but they reveal telling details. One published earlier this year noted that while Trump’s travel restrictions dramatically reduced travel from China in February, nothing was being done at that time to restrict travel from Italy and Europe, where the coronavirus was spreading widely and rapidly. Analysis of virus samples from hard-hit New York in March suggested it was introduced there from Europe and other parts of the U.S., the CDC article reported.

Caputo is an unswerving Trump loyalist. His recent book, The Ukraine Hoax, claims the presidents phony impeachment was rooted in a vast conspiracy.

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unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS…

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unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS...

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My RSS Feedunwinona:

This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS and Polio narrative (among others), only we’re seeing it escalated to weeks and months instead of years or decades.

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