GOP legislators spoke at a QAnon convention chock full of conspiracies and hate

By: - October 28, 2021 9:23 am

Republican legislators spoke at Patriot Double Down, a QAnon conference. L to R: Rep. Leo Biasiucci of Lake Havasu City, Rep. Mark Finchem of Oro Valley, Sen. Sonny Borrelli of Lake Havasu City and Sen. Wendy Rogers of Flagstaff.

Four Republican members of Arizona’s state legislature attended a QAnon convention in Las Vegas over the weekend that included speakers from the fringe of the conspiracy world as well as antisemitic imagery. 

One of the legislators, Rep. Leo Biasiucci of Lake Havasu City, bragged to the attendees of Patriot Double Down that he stood strong against people who tried to convince him not to attend a gathering so closely tied to a violent extremist belief system that calls for the death of political enemies. He recounted an exchange he had with an unnamed Arizona lobbyist whose client was concerned about being associated with Biasiucci.

“Have the CEO of that company give me a call directly and I’ll explain to them why I’m going to this event,” he said.

“And then I’ll explain to them why nobody explains to me what I can or cannot do. ‘Cause I don’t bow down to anybody. No CEO, not the dictator in D.C. I bow down to God and I answer to you, my constituents,” Biasiucci told the crowd, most of whom were not his constituents and had paid between $650 to $3,000 to attend

And while Biasiucci seemed to revel in being linked to QAnon — the bio he submitted for the event included a reference to a QAnon conspiracy about convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein — Sen. Wendy Rogers played dumb about the event’s overt links to the conspiracy. “What is a Q?” Rogers tweeted before the gathering.

In its simplest form, QAnon is a conspiracy theory that alleges that a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles are running a global sex-trafficking ring, control world governments and are trying to bring down President Donald Trump — who is himself single-handedly dismantling the cabal. 

Each member can adopt their own beliefs and are encouraged to do their own “research,” and there are as a result a wide variety of QAnon beliefs. For example, some believe that the founder of QAnon, dubbed simply “Q,” is actually JFK Jr., while others believe Q to be Trump himself. (JFK Jr. died in 1999 when the plane he was flying crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.) 

Borrelli: COVID is a ‘plandemic’

Biasiucci and Rogers spoke alongside Rep. Mark Finchem, who is running for secretary of state, and Sen. Sonny Borrelli on a panel discussing the Arizona Senate’s partisan “audit” of the 2020 election. That self-styled audit was marred by controversy and conducted by conspiracy theorists who had no background in elections or knowledge of Arizona election law. It found no evidence of the fraud that the four GOP legislators and tens of millions of Republican voters nationwide say stole the election from Donald Trump.

Instead, the “audit” concluded that Joe Biden won Arizona.

The panel discussion opened up with a video by a company that makes QAnon memes and videos, many of which center on debunked conspiracies in them or antisemetic messaging. None of the legislators refuted any of the conspiratorial or antisemitic themes in the video.

Parts of that same video would later be shown during the opening of the second day of the convention. 

(One video found by the Arizona Mirror that was created by the company used by Patriot Double Down stated that the Titanic disaster was a hoax, Hitler faked his death and babies blood is being harvested as part of a popular QAnon conspiracy about Hollywood elites. Another video also superimposed the Star of David among images of the 9/11 attacks.)

Other than Biasiucci’s opening remarks recounting his conversation with the lobbyist, the Arizona legislators avoided talking about QAnon directly, but alluded to parts of the wide-ranging conspiracy theory. 

For instance, Borrelli called the COVID-19 pandemic, which has taken the lives of over 21,000 Arizonans and 984 in Mohave County, where he lives, a “plandemic” and used a stack of masks as a prop to demonstrate the many “masks” of Democrats that were “coming off.” 

“CRT, another distraction, another distortion,” Borrelli said, referring to critical race theory while throwing a mask in the air. Borrelli also claimed that disgraced Gen. Michael Flynn — who pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents about his contacts with Russian officials — had been “framed.”

The lawmakers urged those in attendance to get involved in local politics, urging them to become precinct committeemen — the foot soldiers of political parties who primarily do things like registering voters, canvassing neighborhoods for their party’s candidates and other grassroots activities. 

Photo courtesy of Arizona Right Wing Watch

Finchem also spoke on a second panel of other QAnon-linked candidates who are running for secretary of state in their respective states. 

The panel discussion mostly focused on similar debunked claims around the election, including ones around California’s recent recall election. Finchem also praised a Colorado county clerk who is under federal investigation after allowing unauthorized individuals access to voting equipment. 

“Tina Peters, god bless her, y’all need to pray for that woman ‘cause she is under fire,” Finchem said about the Mesa County Clerk who has been branded a hero by QAnon conspiracy theorists. 

Later, Finchem compared the murder of six million people in Holocaust to “cancel culture.” 

“You know what happened in the 1940s, right? Six million Jews were exterminated because they were dehumanized. (Kurt Tucholsky) said, ‘A country is not just what it does, it’s what it tolerates.’ We have become far too tolerant of those who would try to ‘cancel culture’ us, of those who would tell us to sit down and shut up,” he said. “And Aristotle, another notable, said tolerance is the last virtue left of a failing society.”

One other Arizona politician was in attendance: QAnon leader and congressional candidate Ron Watkins

The event also featured a speech from actor Jim Caviezel, who fully embraced QAnon during a session that included a man whose fans claim he is JFK Jr.

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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joined the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.