Marjorie Taylor Greene’s victory in the 11 August primary runoff for Georgia’s 14th Congressional district all but assures that a backer of the baseless and antisemitic QAnon conspiracy theory will be elected to Congress in November. Her primary opponent, John Cowan, ran as a pro-Trump, pro-life, and pro-gun conservative.
The filings reveal donations from:
- groups connected to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and his wife,
- the chairman of the board of prominent conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation,
- the attorney who represented “Covington Kid” Nicholas Sandmann in defamation suits against the Washington Post and CNN,
- and multiple Republican mega-donors.
Meadows was given the opportunity to disavow or denounce QAnon in multiple television interviews on Sunday, but he demurred, claiming not to know what it was.
“Getting involved in a primary on behalf of an absolutely insane, conspiracy-minded, explicitly racist candidate in a seat that is reliably conservative is mind-bogglingly irresponsible,” said Tim Miller, a former spokesman for the Republican National Committee who is now political director for Republican Voters Against Trump.
“This is how you signal to the Trump base, ‘We are with you. We are going to go along with the most radical, conspiratorial segment of the Trump base to show that you can trust us, that we’re not going to get ‘cucked’ by the media.’”
Greene has garnered significant media attention for her extraordinary support for QAnon, a baseless conspiracy theory rooted in antisemitic tropes whose followers believe that Donald Trump is waging a secret battle against a cabal of Democrats, celebrities and billionaires engaged in pedophilia, child trafficking, and even cannibalism. The movement has repeatedly inspired vigilante violence, and has been identified by the FBI as a potential domestic terrorism threat.
In videos unearthed by Politico, Greene has argued that Muslims should not be allowed to serve in the US government, compared Black Lives Matter activists to neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan, described the election of Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib as “an Islamic invasion”, and promoted antisemitic conspiracy theories about the billionaire financier and Holocaust survivor George Soros.
The Republican Jewish Coalition cited those videos, as well as her refusal to apologize for posing for a photograph with a “long-time white supremacist leader” in its decision to pick sides in a Republican primary and endorse Cowan.
As a blogger for a now-defunct website, Greene promoted QAnon as well as other fringe conspiracy theories, according to NBC News. Archives of the website show that she promoted conspiracy theories about a “Clinton Kill List”, about the 2017 gun massacre in Las Vegas, and about the murder of a young Democratic party staffer.
Madihha Ahussain, Muslim Advocates’ special counsel for anti-Muslim bigotry, denounced the “vile, false, violence-inciting rhetoric against Muslims” from Greene in a statement that also addressed anti-Muslim extremist Laura Loomer’s Republican primary victory. “A failure to disavow this anti-Muslim hate is an endorsement of it,” she added.
Some high-profile Republican leaders spoke out against Greene after Politico unearthed the videos of her making racist statements, and the political action committee (Pac) associated with Koch Industries, KochPac, requested a refund of an earlier donation. But campaign finance filings reveal that her campaign continued to be backed by major Republican donors and influential political leaders.
The Your Voice Counts Pac affiliated with Meadows first donated $2,000 to Greene’s campaign in March. Greene received further support from the Meadows family when the RightWomen Pac, whose executive director is Debbie Meadows, Mark’s wife, endorsed Greene and spent $17,500 to oppose Cowan in the runoff.
Greene also received significant backing from the House Freedom Fund, the Pac associated with the House Freedom Caucus, of which Meadows was a member before he was tapped as White House chief of staff. Meadows is still featured on the House Freedom Fund’s website. In addition to spending more than $30,000 on an independent expenditure campaign to support Greene over Cowan, the House Freedom Fund raised nearly $90,000 from its own donors, earmarked for Greene’s campaign.
These earmarked donations include $5,600 from Barb Van Andel-Gaby, the chairman of the board of the Heritage Foundation, an influential conservative think tank. Van Andel-Gaby is also a director of the parent company of Amway, which was founded by her father with Richard DeVos, who was in turn the father-in-law of US secretary of education Betsy DeVos. Van Andel-Gaby’s husband, Richard Gaby, also donated to Greene’s campaign through the House Freedom Fund. Van Andel-Gaby did not respond to numerous requests for comment on her support for a candidate who supports QAnon.
Some of Greene’s donors are a touch ironic, given the QAnon movement’s preoccupation with baselessly accusing Democrats, Hollywood celebrities, and billionaires of pedophilia and human trafficking.
Besides Meadows, the House Freedom Fund is also lead by Representative Jim Jordan, who has been dogged for years by allegations that he knew and did nothing to stop sexual abuse of student athletes at Ohio State University when he worked there in the 1980s and 90s. Jordan has denied any knowledge of the abuse.
Greene received $2,800 from John W Childs, the former chairman of JW Childs Associates who stepped down after being charged with misdemeanor solicitation in an investigation related to the suspected human trafficking sting that led to the arrest of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Childs denied the charge at the time and said he had retained a lawyer. Kraft pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor solicitation charges.
Greene also received $2,800 from L Lin Wood, the attorney who represented British cave explorer Vernon Unsworth in his unsuccessful defamation suit against Elon Musk after Musk baselessly called Unsworth a “pedo guy”. Wood also represented the Covington Catholic student Nicholas Sandmann when he sued numerous media outlets for defamation over coverage of a viral encounter between Covington students and attendees of an Indigenous Peoples March.
Wood, whose Twitter biography includes a hashtag associated with QAnon, “#WWG1WGA”, declined to comment on his belief in QAnon, his view of other conspiracies Greene has promoted, or her history of bigoted statements. He confirmed the donation as a matter of public record and said he represented Greene, adding: “You would be wise to leave me out of your propaganda piece.”
Greene also received donations from major Republican donors, including Tatnall Hillman, who was described by Colorado Politics as “a secretive Aspen billionaire who annually makes multi-million contributions to Republican candidates”; Lenore Broughton, who was described by Vermont paper Seven Day as “a Burlington heiress with a history of funding conservative causes”, and Cherna Moskowitz, the head of the Irving Moskowitz Foundation and chair of the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism.
Almost all of the Guardian’s attempts to contact donors were unsuccessful. Greene received $5,600 from William Pope, chief executive of NCIC Inmate Communications, a private company that provides phone service to prisons. Asked about the donations and Greene’s support for QAnon, Pope responded by email, “Never heard of her!” He did not respond to follow up questions.
Originally published: 2020-08-24 05:00:22