ROCK ISLAND — Republican party officials are withdrawing support for 17th Congressional District candidate Bill Fawell after reviewing alleged conspiracy theories posted by Fawell on social media.
Fawell, 64, will face U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Moline, in the November general election.
State Republican party chairman Tim Schneider, Rock Island County Republican party central committee chair Drue Mielke, and Republican state central committeeman for the 17th Congressional District, Jan Weber, removed their support of Fawell on Tuesday.
All three officials cite posts on Fawell’s campaign Facebook page, Elect Fawell, in which Fawell appears to support 9/11 conspiracy theories, and called some mass shootings “false flag” events.
A false flag is an event in which some believe the government or another group orchestrated a tragic event in order to elicit outrage from the public and provides an excuse for war or some other aggressive reaction.
Fawell said Tuesday that the goal of his Elect Fawell Facebook page is to get people to read information from alternate news sources.
“What I try to do is put in posts from bloggers that are not mainstream,” Fawell said. “I call it the daily lie of omission. It might be something off the beaten path that is not being reported by mainstream media.”
Fawell often posts articles from alt-right-wing sites like zerohedge.com, newzsentinel.com, libertyblitzkrieg.com, and gatestoneinstitute.org, and adds his commentary above the post, often with the caps lock on.
On April 26, 2016, Fawell linked to an article from libertyblitzkrieg.com about Osama bin Laden on his Elect Fawell page, and posted a comment suggesting the CIA and Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad, engineered the 9/11 attacks and that the Saudis were set up.
“They’re using the Saudis as the total scapegoat, leaving 9/11’s masterminds of our CIA and Israel’s Mossad off Scott Free (sic), while the Saudis were pawns,” Fawell posted.
On Aug. 22, 2017, Fawell posted an article from ibank.com, again alleging the CIA and Israeli Mossad were behind the 9/11 attacks.
“They made the first (attack), and you can bet if there’s another, they’ll have made it too, because I’m not buying the 9/11 fairy tale any more than I bought the murders of JFK, RFK, or MLK.” Fawell said. “I’M NOT BUYING ANY OF IT ... AND I’M NOT SORRY.”
In another post April 21, 2016, Fawell calls 9/11 the “Dick Cheney directed false flag attack.”
Fawell also alleges that building 7 of the World Trade Center was brought down by a controlled demolition, citing ae911truth.org as his source.
In a May 25, 2018, post, Fawell commented, “If you watch the demolition it is a controlled one, which confirms the 911 tapes telling the NYFD to “Blow the Building” by the owner when its fire is out of control, which was accomplished in 20 minutes.”
Fawell goes on to allege that building 7 was pre-wired before the attack.
Fawell also has posted on his Elect Fawell page that the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012, in which 20 children and six teachers died was a false flag operation, in addition to other mass shootings.
In a statement Tuesday, Schneider called Fawell a liar and said his comments have hurt those affected by tragic events.
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“Bill Fawell has a problem with the truth and his statements have done a disservice to the individuals who lost their lives from terrible acts of violence,” Schneider said. “As chairman of the Illinois Republican party, I disagree with his misguided views and cannot support his candidacy for Congress in the 17th Congressional District.”
Mielke voiced his support for Fawell to the Dispatch-Argus in July, but said he changed his mind after viewing some of the social media posts.
“I agree with chairman Schneider,” Mielke said. “It’s a huge distraction and I agree that it’s very disrespectful to these human tragedies like Sandy Hook and 9/11. I support Chairman Schneider and his statement. This is certainly not what the Republican party is about, not even close.
“These are the things that distract from real issues,” Mielke said. “We have so many problems in Illinois. The Republican party has a good message; this is just noise in the background.”
Fawell told a Dispatch-Argus reporter on Tuesday he hadn’t received any support from the Republican party anyway.
“The Republican party in Illinois in such disarray,” Fawell said. “It’s just a reaction to some stuff that came out in the left-wing media. The party cut me loose a long time ago. I’m not their candidate. I’ve been a Republican my whole life, but the American people have had it with both parties. I appeal to the independent voters.”
When asked if he believes 9/11 was perpetrated by the U.S. government, Fawell said, “I have no idea, but it requires a deeper investigation than what was done. It could have been a false flag attack. I have a lot of questions, and the American people should have a lot of questions.
“Jet fuel burns at 1,500 degrees, and steel melts at 2,500 degrees,” Fawell said. “I’m pointing out irregularities that don’t make sense to me.”
Fawell said one of the reasons he is running for office is because of the impact the 1968 assassination of Democratic presidential candidate Bobby Kennedy had on him.
“I was 14 at the time,” Fawell said. “Something hit me that day, and I said, ‘everybody’s been lying to me.’
“I started rebuilding my world about what I believed and started being skeptical. How many people believe Lee Harvey Oswald was the one who shot Kennedy? Not many. Nobody really believes that anymore.”
Fawell said the conspiracy theorist label is being used by opponents to diminish him as a candidate. A book he authored in 2008, “New American Revolution,” has been cited as another source of conspiracy theories.
“The media keeps saying all these (theories) are in my book,” Fawell said. “None of these people have read the book. If those theories are in my book, I’ll eat the book. Right in front of them. None of that stuff is in there; it’s all fake news.”
Rock Island County Democratic Party chair Doug House on Tuesday likened Fawell to “tin foil hat filth,” and said county Republicans should demand Fawell’s withdrawal from the race.
“Fawell is a bizarre lunatic whose absurd beliefs are frighteningly dangerous for our communities,” House said in a release.
Weber took Fawell to task for not denying the conspiracy theories.
“I’m very disappointed with Mr. Fawell and the direction he is choosing to take his campaign,” Weber said. “I encourage him to talk about issues. He is not trying to stop the rumor mill on calling 9/11 and Sandy Hook falsehoods.”
Fawell stands by his comments.
“I want to start focusing on the things that are important in this race, not these crazy cheap shots,” Fawell said. “Obviously I’m very disappointed in the Republican party. Nobody has taken the time to call me up and talk to me. They just keep reading all these left-leaning reports like CNN, which is called the Clinton News Network.
“I wear the badge proudly of being excommunicated by the (party) of the state of Illinois. Now independents will say, ‘he’s our guy.’”