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Conspiracy theory posts cost Bill Fawell GOP support in race against Bustos

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If underdog GOP House candidate Bill Fawell is going to spring an upset over incumbent Democrat Cheri Bustos in the race for Illinois’ 17th District seat this November, he will have to do it without financial or campaign support from his fellow Republicans.

Citing Fawell’s repeated posting of debunked conspiracy theories on his social media platforms – including that the 9/11 terror attack was orchestrated by the CIA and Israeli Mossad and that the Sandy Hook massacre that killed 20 children was a fake “false flag” event – Illinois GOP leaders have told multiple media outlets they are withdrawing support from Fawell.

Rock Island County Republican Central Committee Chairman Drue Mielke expressed disappointment that Fawell, a Galena area real estate broker, appears to focus on issues of little or no relevance to voters in the district.

“These are things that are important to him, and that’s fine, but when we get into conspiracy theories that are out there, that becomes a problem for us,” Mielke said. “Those issues don’t play to any voters I know. My advice (to Fawell earlier) was to focus on issues that affect the 17th Congressional District.”

State Republican party chairman Tim Schneider had an even more scathing indictment of Fawell, telling the Dispatch-Argus that the candidate is dishonest.

“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.”

For his part, Fawell – who won last spring’s primary running unopposed – said via his Facebook page Tuesday that his GOP colleagues had been duped by “fake news.” He remained defiant in a series of posts published to his Facebook page over the past 12 hours.

Mielke noted that the Rock Island GOP has not supported Fawell’s campaign financially and that it will no longer offer him campaign support in the county.

In a written statement, Bustos’ communications director Jared Smith said her her campaign remains primarily concerned with local issues.

“Congresswoman Bustos is focused on bringing down the cost of health care and raising paychecks by investing in Illinois because that’s what the hardworking families she serves care about,” Smith said. “There’s a pretty clear difference between what she’s focused on and what her opponents are spending their time thinking about.”

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