- Kevin Bushey and Brian Redmond, two Republican candidates running for election to the Maine House of Representatives, received $400 each from Sen. Susan Collins' political action committee, Dirigo PAC.
- The two have openly advocated for and spread QAnon beliefs on social media.
- A spokesperson for the senator's campaign Business Insider that the group donated money based on Republican recommendations, was "not aware" of the candidates' affiliations with the theory, and might "reconsider its vetting process in the future."
- Collins is part of a growing amount of Republican politicians, including President Donald Trump, who have either backed or avoided denouncing the far-right conspiracy theory.
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Sen. Susan Collins of Maine donated money to two QAnon supporters running for state legislature seats.
Records show that both Kevin Bushey and Brian Redmond, two Republican candidates running for election to the Maine House of Representatives, received $400 each from Dirigo PAC, a political action committee heavily affiliated with Collins.
QAnon is a baseless far-right conspiracy theory that claims President Donald Trump is secretly fighting a "deep state" cabal of satanic pedophiles and cannibals. Last year, the FBI designated QAnon as a domestic-terrorism group, saying it's filled with "conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists" and citing it as a growing threat.
A spokesperson for the senator's campaign Business Insider that the group donated money based on Republican recommendations, was "not aware" of the candidates' affiliations with the theory, and might "reconsider its vetting process in the future."
"Dirigo PAC makes contributions at the state level based on the recommendation of the Maine Republican Caucus," communications director Annie Clark said. "It was not aware of the activities of these individuals at the time these two donations were made. Dirigo PAC will likely reconsider its vetting process in the future."
Collins is part of a growing number of Republican politicians who have either backed or avoided denouncing QAnon. Some, including Sen. Kelly Loeffler of Georgia and Trump himself, have received and accepted support from the group.
"I don't know much about the movement other than I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate," Trump said in August. A wave of QAnon supporters celebrated and thanked Trump for acknowledging them.
Most recently, Trump refused to denounce the QAnon movement while speaking to NBC News' Savannah Guthrie Thursday night during a town hall. He also praised the group multiple times.
"I know nothing about it," he said, when asked if he would disavow the group and its support. "I do know they are very much against pedophilia. They fight it very hard. But I know nothing about it."
Clark, in a statement to Business Insider, added that Collins "denounces QAnon as well as the conspiracy theories advanced by the group."
Large social media platforms like Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook have announced that they are taking steps to limit the spread of QAnon's content and influence.
Bushey and Redmond are both military veterans running to represent two northern Maine districts in Aroostook County, where Collins is from, according to Mainer.
There are several videos on YouTube that feature Bushey as one of the leaders of the IHL Pentecostal Church, which uses the Bible to spread QAnon conspiracies. Bushey is identified as the church's pastor on its website.
The two candidates are seeking to unseat Democratic incumbents this November.