ATLANTA — U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga., was apparently unaware that a “Save the Children” human trafficking rally he attended over the weekend was backed by a supporter of QAnon, an internet-based network of conspiracy theorists.
The rally’s ties to QAnon were not highlighted in local media coverage of the event that began with a march from Savannah’s City Hall. However, attendees sported clothing and waved posters with symbols and slogans from the conspiracy theorist network whose many claims include a movement within the federal government to topple President Donald Trump.
QAnon supporters organized “Save the Children” rallies over the weekend in various cities, including Atlanta’s Piedmont Park. The FBI has labeled QAnon as a domestic terrorist threat, and Facebook temporarily restricted access to the SavetheChildren hashtag earlier this month after concerns it was being used to spread misinformation.
Carter’s campaign and Washington office said the Republican congressman from Pooler has no involvement in QAnon and showed up to support the greater cause of combating sex trafficking, which is part of Gov. Brian Kemp and first lady Marty Kemp’s priorities. Mary Carpenter, a spokeswoman for Carter, pointed out that two Savannah alderwomen also attended the event.
“Congressman Carter was invited by a constituent who shares his strong stance against human trafficking, especially the trafficking of children,” Carpenter said in a statement. “Rep. Carter had no knowledge of any QAnon ties to the event, his attendance had absolutely nothing to do with QAnon, and Rep. Carter is in no way affiliated with QAnon.”
Other Georgia Republicans have been tied to QAnon. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has openly spread its conspiracies, won the Republican nomination in the 14th Congressional District on Tuesday night and is likely to win a seat in Congress. Angela Stanton-King, the Republican nominee in the 5th Congressional District, is also a QAnon supporter but is unlikely to win the seat in a Democratic area.
The Republican nominee in the 7th Congressional District, Rich McCormick, has also repeated conspiracy theories tied to QAnon and appeared on a QAnon-affiliated Youtube show; like Carter he says he has no affiliations.
A main tenet of the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory is that liberal elites are facilitating a secret child sex ring. Followers have attempted to make connections between the true story of trafficker Jeffrey Epstein and other government officials and celebrities. Dominic Box, the organizer of the Savannah rally, alluded to such in his remarks to the few dozen people who attended the event.
“What we’re witnessing is the greatest story never told taking place in the shadows of society,” he said. “It’s a story that includes princes, presidents, people that you watch on TV every single day, and you hear nothing of it. Why? Press are involved.”
The quote echoes the conspiracy language of “Q,” the nebulous individual or entity that claims to have knowledge about a “deep state” network that is attempting to destroy Trump.
Box contacted The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shortly after a reporter emailed Carpenter and Carter campaign spokesman Chris Crawford about the congressman’s involvement. Box would not say who informed him of the AJC’s inquiry. Both Carpenter and Carter denied forwarding the email to Box and said that he had no involvement with Carter or his campaign.
Box told the AJC that he has looked into anonymous postings by “Q.”
“If you’re asking if I think that some of the more wild and ridiculous claims that I have heard are accurate, then I will say that’s up to your own interpretation,” Box said.
Box did not deny that people with QAnon ties attended the rally, but he said it was not the genesis of the event.
“Whether or not I’ve read anything about QAnon or not, ‘Q’ and that movement is not what this rally was about,” he said. “It’s not where it came from.”
Staff writer Chris Joyner contributed to this report.
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