Republican congressional candidate and QAnon conspiracy theory supporter Marjorie Taylor Greene has received a campaign finance boost from several key Republicans, including White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, a review of her donation receipts shows.
Others who supported Ms Greene’s campaign through various PACs include Barb Van Andel-Gaby, the chairwoman of the board of the Heritage Foundation, the powerhouse conservative think tank in Washington; Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney mega-donor John W Childs; and several Republican members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.
Georgia’s 14th District is rated Solid Republican by Inside Elections with Nathan L Gonzales and several other elections handicappers, meaning Ms Greene is likely to become the first QAnon supporter to enter the halls of Congress after this year’s elections.
Ms Greene — who won her GOP primary run-off in Georgia’s 14th District earlier this month against fellow conservative, pro-Trump candidate John Cowan — has been rebuked by several establishment figures within her own party over her support of QAnon and the emergence of old Facebook videos in which she makes bigoted comments about Muslims and people of colour.
Koch Industries’ “Koch PAC,” the pro-oil GOP money machine, has requested a refund from Ms Greene’s campaign due to the unearthed Facebook videos.
The QAnon theory, which originated on the far-right internet chat board 4chan in 2018, maintains that Donald Trump is waging a covert war against “deep state” bureaucrats, Democratic politicians, and celebrities who worship Satan, have sex with children, and eat humans.
The FBI has identified the movement surrounding the QAnon conspiracy theory as a domestic terrorism threat.
Future GOP star?
Nevertheless, Donald Trump heralded her victory on Twitter as the making of a "future Republican Star."
When asked earlier this month about Ms Greene’s embrace of the QAnon conspiracy, the president declined to answer, instead gushing over her election night victory over Mr Cowan.
“She did very well in the election. She won by a lot. She was very popular. She comes from a great state and she had a tremendous victory, so, absolutely, I did congratulate her," Mr Trump said.
Mr Meadows, the president’s chief of staff, was instrumental in helping Ms Greene secure a victory in the GOP primary, Federal Election Commission documents show.
His leadership PAC, Your Voice Counts, contributed $2,000 to Ms Greene’ campaign committee on 10 April, according to her FEC filings.
Mr Meadows told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace this past weekend that he did not know what QAnon was until he Googled it recently.
"It's not a central part of what the president is talking about," Mr Meadows said of the movement Ms Greene has supported. "I don't even know anything about it. I don't even know if it's credible,” he said.
He added: “If it's a hate group, I can tell you that this president is not for hate.”
Right Women PAC, a group run by Mr Meadows’ wife, Debbie, spent thousands of dollars against Mr Cowan during the GOP primary run-off in Georgia’s 14th District.
Ms Meadows’ touted Ms Greene as a “strong ally for President Trump in advancing the Make America Great Again agenda” and commended her record on gun rights and “the rule of law.”
Meadows' past 'birther' remarks
Mr Meadows, a former North Carolina congressman who rose to prominence as a media-savvy thorn in the side of the GOP establishment in the 2010s, is no stranger to stoking conspiracy theories.
At a Tea Party campaign event in 2012, he told a crowd of supporters: “2012 is the time we are going to send Mr Obama home to Kenya or wherever it is,” a reference to the racist conspiracy theory, fuelled by Mr Trump, that the 44th president was a Muslim born outside the US.
Mr Meadows later disavowed his past remarks on the so-called Obama “birther” theory.
A spokesman for the White House chief of staff could not immediately be reached for comment for this story.
The House Freedom Caucus’ (HFC) leadership PAC, the House Freedom Fund, also significantly boosted Ms Greene’s campaign via an independent expenditure fund that spent tens of thousands of dollars to help her defeat Mr Cowan. Mr Meadows maintains close ties to the HFC, which he chaired from 2017 to 2019, and its campaign arm.
Backtracking on Q?
Ms Greene has recently hedged against her past avowal of the QAnon theory, saying her past support of the movement “doesn’t represent” her.
“Yeah, there was a time there for a while that I had read about Q, posted about it, talked about it, which is some of these videos you've seen come out. But once I started finding misinformation, I decided that I would choose another path," she said.
But she also added that she believes she is under attack from the “left-leaning media” because she is “unapologetically conservative.”
"I won't back down on my beliefs and my values," Ms Greene said in an interview with Fox News.
When asked about the theory and its supporters last week, Mr Trump embraced them as political assets.
“I don’t know much about the movement other than I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate,” he said.
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