A Republican congressional candidate and high-profile ally in Donald Trump’s fight to win over Black voters has admitted to believing a baseless QAnon-related conspiracy theory that the online furniture retailer Wayfair is secretly selling trafficked children over the internet as part of a deep-state plot.
Angela Stanton King, who is running in Atlanta, Georgia, for the congressional seat once held by the late civil rights icon John Lewis, told the Guardian in an on-camera interview she believed the debunked conspiracy theory while continuing to deny she was a follower of QAnon.
When asked if she believed the retailer was involved in a global pedophilia conspiracy, she replied: “You know they are. You saw it. You watch the news just like I did.” The candidate then ended the interview, being taped as part of the Guardian’s Anywhere But Washington series.
“I don’t know anything about QAnon. You know more than I know,” King said as she walked away.
Stanton King is one of a number of Republican congressional candidates with ties to the far-right, antisemitic conspiracy theory. She has almost no chance of winning her race in Georgia’s fifth congressional district, which has been held by Democrats with overwhelming margins for decades. But elsewhere in the state, Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican candidate for the 14th congressional district and an outspoken promoter of QAnon, looks set to win a seat in Congress.
Donald Trump has himself praised QAnon followers as patriots who “love America” and declined opportunities to debunk the false theories.
Stanton King has used her social media presence to push false theories linked to Qanon, including suggesting that the Black Lives Matter movement is “a major cover up for PEDOPHILIA and HUMAN TRAFFICKING”. She also reiterated a QAnon rallying cry related to the so-called “Storm”, a day of reckoning when, followers believe, Donald Trump will reveal the malefactors in the deep state. “THE STORM IS HERE,” she tweeted on 6 August this year.
When asked to explain this post, Stanton King once again denied being a follower of the movement and stated: “It was raining that day.”
Weather reports on 6 August in Atlanta indicate it was hot with no precipitation.
Advocates on the ground in Georgia and elsewhere have reported an uptick in disinformation associated with the conspiracy theory movement during this election cycle.
Fenika Miller, an organizer in central Georgia with Black Voters Matter, a non-profit group registering voters in predominantly Black and marginalized communities across the country, said she was encountering conspiracy theories and disinformation among voters on a daily basis.
“It’s very dangerous. But that’s the times we’re living in,” Miller said as she registered voters in Peach county, central Georgia. “We’re living in dangerous times under a dangerous administration. It’s intentional misinformation they’re putting out specifically targeting young voters and Black voters.
“That’s why we have to be out here talking and engaging so we can try to combat it,” she added.
Stanton King appeared at the White House with Donald Trump in February as part of a roundtable discussion on African American History Month and has made appearances for the Trump campaign at numerous “Black Voices for Trump” events throughout the election season.
This year, Trump issued a full pardon to Stanton King after she spent two years in prison for her role in a 2004 car theft conspiracy. She announced her candidacy for Congress just weeks after the pardon.
During his first term in office, Donald Trump has issued just 28 presidential pardons, one of the lowest totals in modern presidential history. Many of his acts of clemency, including for the former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, former Trump adviser Roger Stone and Stanton King, have gone to allies of the president.
Asked if she believed Trump’s use of the presidential pardon had been representative of fair and equal justice, Stanton King replied: “I supported him before he gave me a pardon.”
She added: “I’m not one of his political allies.”
During her meeting with Trump at the White House in February, Stanton – King introduced herself by stating: “Recently pardoned by the greatest president ever.”