Kim Reynolds Attended Private Event in Rhode Island with Parkland Shooting Conspiracy Theorist

According to her office, Reynolds planned to stay in Des Moines that day "to work with House and Senate leaders on tax reform and other legislative issues"

Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds made a last-minute schedule change this week, cancelling a trip to New York for a series of Iowa economic development meetings in order to attend a private fundraiser Tuesday in Rhode Island hosted by a Republican activist and conspiracy theorist, according to an Associated Press report.

The activist, Russell Taub, posted a photo of himself with Reynolds on Facebook along with the message, “Happy to host Governor of Iowa Kim Reynolds.”

Taub’s Facebook page also posted a conspiracy theory about the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead. The post, which included photos of one of the survivors being interviewed after the shooting and in California the previous year, suggested the student was a crisis actor who didn’t actually attend the school, a popular conspiracy theory that emerged among the gun-rights fringe. “The media is scamming us once more if this is legitimate?” Taub had posted.

That same day, Reynolds’ office had sent out a press release updating the governor’s public schedule, saying she would no longer attend travel to New York for the economic development meetings, which were scheduled to begin on Wednesday. Instead, the release said, acting Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg would go in her place, while the “governor will stay in Des Moines to work with House and Senate leaders on tax reform and other legislative issues.”

Taub has given more than $211,000 to Republican candidates and organizations since 2016, according to an AP review of Federal Election Commission records. That included $5,400 to Sen. Joni Ernst, whom Taub called “one of my favorite leaders” in 2015.

Gavin Aronsen
Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.