20200716 Owens PSB

Burgess Owens, the Republican nominee in Utah’s 4th Congressional District, was a guest on a QAnon internet program in May where he stumped for campaign donations.

The left-leaning Media Matters for American reports Owens appeared on the May 26 edition of “The Common Sense Show,” which is broadcast on the Patriot’s Soapbox YouTube Channel. 

QAnon is a fringe right-wing conspiracy theory involving an anonymous person, known only as “Q,” who communicates through a series of cryptic posts. The group believes President Donald Trump is fighting a secret battle against a global satanic child sex trafficking ring that is operated by high-profile political figures including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Many followers also believe that John F. Kennedy, Jr., who died in a plane crash in 1999, faked his death and is assisting Trump.

To be fair, it’s not clear whether Owens is aware of what the QAnon conspiracy is. When reached for comment, Owens said in an email “We’ll have to Google what ‘QAnon’ is.”

This is not the only time Owens’ path has crossed with QAnon. Earlier in July, Owens tweeted his congratulations to Colorado Republican Lauren Boebert after she defeated incumbent Congressman Scott Tipton in her GOP primary. Boebert has spoken favorably about QAnon in the past but has tried to distance herself from the group since her win.

 

It appears Owens’ primary reason for appearing on the show was to solicit campaign donations as he and the hosts did not discuss QAnon during the half-hour program. MMFA notes Owens directed viewers to his website at least four times during the appearance.

Owens has been omnipresent as a guest on conservative media programs, appearing numerous times on Fox News and other outlets. Earlier this month Owens appeared as a guest on OANN, the small cable news outlet that claimed an elderly man in Buffalo who was shoved to the ground by police during the Black Lives Matter protests was an “Antifa provocateur.”

The “Patriot’s Soapbox” Network YouTube channel was described by NBC News as a round-the clock live broadcast of a Discord chatroom with audio commentary by volunteers and moderators. There are also sporadic live programs such as the one featuring Owens as a guest. The channel has thousands of subscribers.

Owens’ campaign did not respond to a question about which media invitations they accept and which they reject. 

Owens defeated three other Republican candidates to win the GOP nomination to face Democrat Ben McAdams in November’s election. The most recent FEC reports show McAdams currently has a 28-1 cash advantage over Owens with less than four months to go before the election. 

The DCCC, the campaign arm for House Democrats, said it was troubling that Owens appears to be flirting with the fringe group.

“Utahns deserve a representative who will fight to improve their access to health care and good-paying jobs, not a conspiracy theorist like Mr. Owens,” said spokesperson Brooke Goren. 

Republicans deflected when asked about Owens’ appearance on the Patriot’s Soapbox.

“Did I miss your story on Ben McAdams appearing on Russia conspiracy network MSNBC?,” said NRCC spokesperson Torunn Sinclair, suggesting the two media entities were somehow equal. McAdams’ most recent appearance on MSNBC was in March to discuss his recovery from the coronavirus.

Several GOP candidates for Congress have been playing footsie with QAnon groups during the 2020 campaign cycle. At least nine Republicans who support QAnon in some fashion have won their party’s nomination for the House or Senate this year. 

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney told the Washinton Post recently he had serious reservations about Republicans who embraced QAnon leanings.

“I’m worried about people falling for unsubstantiated, uncorroborated conspiracy theories that frankly have no basis in fact that we know of,” said Romney.