Sen. Susan Collins is financially supporting the state legislative campaigns of two fellow Maine Republicans who fervently believe in QAnon, the perverse conspiracy theory whose adherents are considered a domestic terror threat by the FBI. In recent days, Facebook and YouTube have announced actions to curb the spread of QAnon content due to mounting fears that its followers — who deify President Trump and believe his enemies are a global cabal of pedophilic Satanists — will engage in violence before or after Election Day.
Kevin Bushey and Brian Redmond, the QAnon believers supported by Collins, are both military veterans who eagerly anticipate a political bloodbath will soon erupt nationwide, ultimately leading to arrests, military trials, and “God-declared executions” for “traitors” like top Democratic politicians and donors, socialists, Planned Parenthood, and Black Lives Matter and Sunrise Movement activists.
Last month, Collins’ personal political action committee, Dirigo PAC, contributed $400 each to Bushey and Redmond. Both are challenging Democratic incumbents for seats in the Maine House of Representatives representing parts of Aroostook County — the poverty-plagued, northernmost area of the state, where Collins was born and raised. The Maine GOP’s campaign fund for House races also gave Bushey and Redmond $400 each last month. For Redmond, those contributions amount to more than half the money his campaign has raised so far.
“Given the closeness of her race, [Collins] should have been really careful about who she gives money to,” said longtime Maine political columnist Al Diamon. He said there’s “no way” the donations to Bushey and Redmond “would not be carefully vetted” by Collins and her staff.
PACs like Dirigo “are very specific about who they give to, because they’re entirely designed to advance your political career,” Diamon said. “So if you give to somebody from one of those PACs, you are expecting something in return.”
Collins’ communication team did not respond to a request for comment.
Redmond is the less prominent of the two QAnon believers Collins is backing, but his advocacy of the conspiracy theory has been on open display. Before his Twitter account was banned earlier this month, his cover photo read “Q’s Army/Irregular Warfare Division” and declared “WWG1WGA,” shorthand for the QAnon rallying cry, “Where We Go One We Go All.” Media Matters reported last month that his account “repeatedly tweeted the QAnon hashtag and the QAnon slogan,” and his Facebook account also includes QAnon posts.
In an interview with Mainer, Redmond said he discovered QAnon in the comments section of Zero Hedge, a far-right, libertarian economics blog notorious for spreading conspiracies. “I was hooked right off the bat,” said Redmond, who now considers himself an investigative journalist. “It was an opportunity to wrestle back control of our government from subvertists and treasonists. … As a veteran, I was called to arms.”
“What I understand about the QAnon program is that the military is going to need to intervene eventually,” Redmond said. Asked what he meant by “military intervention,” he explained: “Nazis never lost World War II. [Nazism] was dissolved, they were consumed into the U.S.A., and the rich, cultist, Satanist families continued to utilize this Nazi force.
“The end of World War III will end with Donald Trump,” he continued. “It’s already happening with the crushing of ISIS. There will be another Nuremberg trial, some of these icons of American industry and business will be held accountable at Gitmo [the military detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba].”
Redmond said QAnon has caused him to question the very nature of his nation. “I always look at two sides of the coin on this stuff and think, ‘Have I been deceived? … Has [traditional patriotism] really been a trick to expose us patriots, so we are the first on the trains to the FEMA camps? … I’m ready to go to the camps if necessary. That’s why I’m fighting and putting my life on the line. I have faith.”
Redmond is challenging Democrat David McCrea, a retired teacher who’s seeking a third term representing a district in eastern Aroostook County, along the border with New Brunswick. This is Redmond’s first run for public office.
Bushey is making his second attempt to unseat Democrat John Martin. Two years ago, Bushey got over 40 percent of the vote against Martin, who’s served in the Maine Legislature for over 50 years and is still “a major behind the scenes player,” said Diamon.
Bushey’s deeply disturbing political views are all over the Internet. The retired Air Force colonel proselytizes on YouTube as a leader of a “QAnon church” called Omega Kingdom Ministries (OKM), explaining how the conspiracy theory melds with Biblical teachings. In an interview on Crash Barry’s podcast Open Ears Maine, posted by Mainer last May, Bushey said a shadowy group that includes Freemasons, bankers, Catholics and Jews “have worked very diligently to support the idea that we should be in continuous war or having wars, because they like to finance both sides of the equation. They’re the producers, the manufacturers, and they control the money supplies.”
In an article by academic researcher Marc-André Argentino, re-published by Salon last May, he wrote that Bushey and OKM pastor Russ Wagner “are leveraging religious beliefs and their ‘authority’ as a pastor and ex-military officer to indoctrinate attendees into the QAnon church. Their objective is to train congregants to form their own home congregations in the future and grow the movement.”
This effort has distinctly cultish aspects. “Wagner and Bushey have taught their congregation to stop listening to any media — even Fox News — because they’re all ‘Luciferian,’” Argentino reported. “What they provide instead is a road map to QAnon radicalization…”
On the Home Congregations website (homecongregations.org), the parent organization for Bushey’s OKM church, he published a post on Sept. 30 called “A Word From the Front Lines.” “When we come out of our ‘trench,’ and begin shooting truth bullets of the gospel and other truths, Satan and a lot of the world do not like it,” he wrote, “and the Enemy will shoot back to stop you. … We are now soldiers and soldiers fight battles. It is very much like the 5th columnists … who live inside Enemy territory to carry out intelligence missions and blow up the enemy’s strongholds.”
A series of “prayers” on the site’s homepage is titled “Operation Lock and Load.” The first in the series, titled “Machine Gunner,” states, “We hereby decree: The immediate death, dismantling & destruction of the following anti-Christ organizations and funds.” The long list that follows includes the Democratic Socialists of America, Planned Parenthood, The Lincoln Project, The Clinton Foundation, The Muslim Brotherhood, Antifa, Black Lives Matter and ActBlue Charities.
The fourth “prayer,” titled “S.W.A.T.,” declares, “We cut the head of authority off of each of the following radicalizing organizations and let each of these be exposed, completely uprooted and decimated from our land.” That list includes the youth-led, climate-action group Sunrise Movement and 350, the anti-global-warming organization.
A related post, titled “What’s Coming,” includes this prayer: “Lord, let Your Word regarding the traitor’s fate come to pass, let the military trials and all God-declared executions come forth in this season of reckoning and restoration.”
These types of death edicts are scattered among seemingly contradictory calls for “peace” and lengthy passages of more traditional Christian rhetoric. Bushey did not respond to a request for comment.
Asked if he thought his QAnon beliefs might turn off voters in western Aroostook County, Bushey told Barry, “Well, I don’t know. They’re going to have to make their decisions on their own about who I am and what I stand for. I’m a pro-life candidate and I believe in God and I believe in family. And I’m going to work very hard to let people know it’s time that we bring that type of approach to government.”
Mainer contributor Andy O’Brien contributed research for this article.