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Pinellas School Board candidate revises answer on QAnon, conspiracy theories

In a departure from previous comments, Dawn Peters says she does not follow QAnon and is unaware of its oath.
In this image from a 2020 Twitter post, Pinellas School Board candidate Dawn Peters, wearing the red shirt and white shorts, is shown in a group that appears to be taking the QAnon oath. Peters initially said she did not recall what she was thinking when she shared the post two years ago. She now says she does not know what the QAnon oath is.
In this image from a 2020 Twitter post, Pinellas School Board candidate Dawn Peters, wearing the red shirt and white shorts, is shown in a group that appears to be taking the QAnon oath. Peters initially said she did not recall what she was thinking when she shared the post two years ago. She now says she does not know what the QAnon oath is. [ Twitter ]
Published Oct. 26, 2022|Updated Oct. 26, 2022

Pinellas County School Board candidate Dawn Peters amended her response to questions about a handful of 2020 social media posts linking her to the QAnon group and conspiracy theories.

In her most recent post about the topic last week, Peters said she does not question the reality of the Sept. 11 terror attacks in 2001.

“I know many friends who were there and lost loved ones to this horrible tragedy and an attack on our nation,” Peters wrote on her campaign Facebook page.

She used the same message to reject the idea that she follows the conspiracy theories of the right-wing QAnon movement.

“I am not a conspiracy theorist. I am a mother, an active volunteer and just want to get back to discussing the issues with our school system and our children,” wrote Peters, who faces Keesha Benson in the Nov. 8 race for the at-large District 3 seat on the Pinellas board.

Related: Tampa Bay Times 2022 General Election Voter Guide: Local candidates on the issues

Peters posted her statement after the Tampa Bay Times reported her critics were circulating 2-year-old screenshots from her social media accounts. The images showed her appearing to join others in a QAnon pledge and retweeting an item that called the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the moon landing and the coronavirus pandemic “hoaxes.”

When asked about the posts for that article, Peters confirmed they were real but said she could not recall what she was thinking when she shared them. She said she had “no idea” whether the three historic events were hoaxes, and that people should “think for themselves.”

In an email after the story published, Peters told the Times she did not “know what a QAnon oath is.” She did not respond to follow-up questions about why she posted on Twitter on June 25, 2020, a photo of her partner David Will taking what she called “the oath” along with the hashtags “QAnon,” “QArmy” and “Q.”

Pinellas County School Board candidate Dawn Peters posted this photo on her Twitter account in June 2020. She has said she does not know what the QAnon oath is.
Pinellas County School Board candidate Dawn Peters posted this photo on her Twitter account in June 2020. She has said she does not know what the QAnon oath is. [ Twitter ]

That came one day after she posted a photo of Michael Flynn, the controversial former national security adviser, with the phrase “WWG1WGA, God Bless America.” The phrase refers to the line “Where we go one, we go all,” which has been considered a QAnon oath or pledge.

QAnon reportedly encouraged supporters to “take the oath” around that time, using the same WWG1WGA message.

Peters did not respond to further email and phone requests for additional clarification.

Her supporters criticized the Times article as a distraction and fake news. Local blogger David Happe, who is involved in political campaigns, wrote on social media that Peters is “a person of the highest moral Christian character, with a reputation of integrity and community service.”

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Benson, Peters’ opponent, declined to comment on the issue.

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