Three days after the Polk County Republican Party dubiously claimed that a post on their official Facebook page defending the display of the Confederate flag was the result of a hacked account, another post was added to the same page that endorsed the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory.
“SSTAND STRONG…AND STAND FOR YOUR FREEDOMS!!!!” the post read, promoting an image of a Revolutionary War-era American soldier behind a block of text that criticized the coronavirus lockdowns and said further restrictions wouldn’t be tolerated. “We have no intention of respecting any new little laws or civil orders,” it warned. “Don’t push your luck.”
The message ended with “WWG1WGA,” a popular abbreviation for the QAnon motto, Where We Go One, We Go All. QAnon is a convoluted conspiracy theory that originated on the online message board 4Chan and claims that a global cabal including government officials, Hollywood actors, and Democratic politicians is operating death squads, pedophile rings, and a shadow government intent on ousting President Trump from power.
“I posted this piece as [I] thought it very relivent [sic] to what’s happening everyday in our lives”
In response to a previous message left with the Polk County GOP seeking comment about a post supporting a NASCAR driver for quitting the sport over its Confederate flag ban, the local party’s former chairman, Wes Enos, called to claim that it was posted by a page administrator whose personal Facebook account had been hacked. However, as the Informer reported then, the post was similar in appearance to others made by Connie Schmett, a longtime GOP activist and current co-chair of the Polk County GOP. Schmett also made headlines three years ago for her involvement in a Saudi-funded campaign that employed veterans to lobby against a law allowing 9/11 victims to sue the Middle Eastern government.
After spotting the QAnon post Wednesday morning, the Informer reached out to the county party, Schmett, and Enos for comment to see if this was another example of a hacked account. Only Schmett replied.
“Please share with me before its [sic] posted,” she said in an email, referring to this article. “I posted this piece as [I] thought it very relivent [sic] to what’s happening everyday in our lives.” (The Informer does not share article drafts with sources before publication.)
Unlike the Confederate flag post, which was removed from the page in under an hour, the QAnon post stayed up for several hours before it was deleted. The Polk County Democrats posted a screenshot to their Facebook page, adding, “More QAnon gibberish from the Polk County Republican Party today. Sad there aren’t any Republican moderates left in the metro anymore.” According to a member of the county Dems, this wasn’t the first time Schmett posted about QAnon on the page.
Before the post was taken down, dozens of other Facebook users reacted to it, too. Among them was Ryan Frederick, the chair of the Adair County Republican Party in southwestern Iowa, who liked it. Frederick did not respond to a request for comment asking why he seemingly approved of the post, but he quickly unliked it after a separate request for comment sent to the county party’s Facebook account was seen.
Joseph Howe, who co-chairs the Polk County Libertarian Party, commented, “I mean I’m not for lockdowns, they’d have been unnecessary if Republican leadership nationally had been there, but the rest of this list is a laundry list of ignorance.” Even a supporter of Trump — who himself has repeatedly promoted QAnon conspiracy theories — questioned it: “Dont [sic] understand why this was posted on this site.”