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Campaign rejects conspiracy, but Boebert stirs new QAnon controversy with Hanks tweet

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August 19, 2020, 9:55 am
3rd Congressional District candidate Lauren Boebert and her supporters (campaign photo).

A spokeswoman for Republican congressional candidate Lauren Boebert on Tuesday tried to definitively stomp out the embers of the QAnon conspiracy fire that’s been singing the Rifle restauranteur’s campaign for months, even as a new brush fire cropped up concerning the Greek citizenship of beloved Hollywood star Tom Hanks.

“[Boebert] has been on the record numerous times saying that she does not support QAnon or other conspiracy theories,” campaign spokeswoman Laura Carno said in a phone interview with RealVail.com and the Colorado Times Recorder Tuesday morning. “The news organizations that keep talking about this are just trying to make something out of something that isn’t there.”

Kyle Clark of 9News on Tuesday ran a segment on Boebert’s latest QAnon bobble – a tweet questioning Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden fundraising with Hanks, a new dual citizen after his many visits to the European nation and his charitable work in the wake of devastating wildfires there like the ones that are currently raging across the Western Slope of Colorado – most of which is in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District Boebert hopes to represent.

Boebert defeated five-term incumbent Scott Tipton in the June 30 Republican primary and now faces former Eagle and Routt County state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush in the Nov. 3 general election. The Mitsch Bush campaign did not respond to an email request for comment on the latest QAnon controversy involving Boebert.

According to a USA Today story last week, a QAnon conspiracy theory on social media “falsely claims Tom Hanks became a citizen of Greece because it classifies pedophilia as a disability…” QAnon is a collection of conspiracy theories propagated on social media by an anonymous individual known as “Q”, who asserts there’s a deep-state Democratic conspiracy involving satanism and pedophilia that is out to get Republican President Donald Trump.

The FBI has warned QAnon poses a domestic terrorism threat.

Boebert has been trying to back away from QAnon after saying in May, “I hope that this is real because it only means that America is getting stronger and better, and people are returning to conservative values.” But then on Monday she stepped in it again, tweeting, “[Democratic Presidential candidate] Joe Biden is doing a fundraiser with newly minted Greek citizen Tom Hanks tomorrow. I just… no comment.”

Asked about the Hanks tweet, Boebert spokeswoman Carno responded via text early Wednesday: “Instead of talking to the American people, Joe Biden was fundraising with Tom Hanks. That’s what Lauren responded to.”

Tom Hanks (Wiki).

Earlier in the day, Carno more broadly addressed the QAnon issue by alleging other Republican candidates are unjustly being painted with the same conspiracy-theory brush.

“The same media outlets that are trying to stir this thing up are going after [Republican Utah congressional candidate and former NFL player] Burgess Owens, who was on a radio station that these people say is associated with this QAnon,” Carno said. “They never asked him one single question about it, and now they are also trying to paint him.”

According to the Deseret News in Salt Lake City last month, Owens, speaking on the “The Common Sense Show” that’s part of the Patriots’ Soapbox news network on YouTube and is known as a “QAnon program”, was not asked directly about the conspiracy theory but “recently tweeted ‘Colorado chose wisely’ to … Boebert, who has said she hopes QAnon ‘is real.’”

Owens, who is facing incumbent Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams in Utah’s 4th Congressional District, ended the program by telling the hosts, “Thank you for all you guys are doing because I’m just part of the team.” A campaign spokesman said Owens wasn’t aware of QAnon.

Boebert certainly is by now.

“[QAnon] is not a thing,” Carno said Tuesday. “[Boebert] has been on record numerous times saying that she doesn’t support it and that she doesn’t support conspiracy theories in general, and we’re done talking about it.”

Asked about statements and a YouTube video Illinois Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger made over the weekend urging Trump and both political parties to disavow QAnon in the wake of the primary victory of Republican QAnon adherent Marjorie Taylor Greene in Georgia, Carno compared it to the ultimate gotcha question.

“Should [the GOP] also disavow wife-beating? Do you know what I mean?” Carno asked. “This is my problem with this whole direction of ‘When did you stop beating your wife.’ Stop it. We’re not going there. We have actual substantive things to talk about. We have 52,000 square miles of district and lots of people who want to see [Boebert].”

Kinzinger, according to Politico, felt like Greene’s primary victory and likely election to Congress in a heavily conservative district made it necessary to take on QAnon, which Trump has refused to do.

“I think up to maybe about a week ago there wasn’t a reason to denounce it because it didn’t need the attention, but now that it’s made mainstream — we have a candidate that embraces it that won a primary,” Kinzinger said. “The president hasn’t fully denounced it or denounced it at all. Now it’s time for leaders to come out and denounce it.”

Carno says Boebert addressed a rally of 200 people in Cortez over the weekend and is an ordinary person, not a politician, who clearly connects with the people.

“We are attempting to put this stupid [QAnon] thing to bed, but it’s all some of [Boebert’s opponents] have because they are looking for how are they are going to say that she is so popular out there with ordinary people, how are they going to go against her, and they’re choosing stuff like this,” Carno said. “I think it’s dumb for them to choose that from just a strategy standpoint.”

Asked if Boebert regrets her sympathetic comments about QAnon in May, Carno said, “That’s clearly what opened the door,” and explained that Boebert didn’t know enough about the conspiracy at the time.

“She’d heard of it; she knew something about it – not everything about it,” Carno said. “She was going from being a mom of four boys and a business owner to getting up to speed as quickly as possible on all of the federal issues, so she had heard about it, knew something about it, did not know everything about it, and the thing that she thought she had heard was that you’ve got people who are trying to undermine the president.

“We’ve got the [U.S. Attorney General’s] office looking into that; that’s what she connected it to,” Carno said of investigations by William Barr into the origins of the Russia investigation. “So anything that the AG and [Inspector General’s] offices are looking into, those are the things that she knows.”

On Tuesday, a Republican-controlled Senate panel confirmed the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller detailing widespread contacts between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russian intelligence officials but stopped short of alleging a conspiracy. Barr, a Trump loyalist who recently called the probe the “Russiagate scandal”, is expected to release his own findings before the Nov. 3 election.

Editor’s note: A version of this story also ran in the Colorado Times Recorder.

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David O. Williams

Managing Editor at RealVail
David O. Williams is an award-winning freelance reporter based in the Vail Valley of Colorado, writing on health care, immigration, politics, the environment, energy, public lands, outdoor recreation and sports. His work has appeared in 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, Aspen Journalism, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), Colorado Politics (formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Colorado Times Recorder, the Daily Trail (Vail), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington), ESPN.com, the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Greeley Tribune, the Huffington Post, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), KUNC.org (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the London Daily Mirror, the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, Atlantic Media's RouteFifty.com (formerly Government Executive State and Local), SKI Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail and Westword (Denver). Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of RealVail.com and RockyMountainPost.com.

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