“West Virginia’s top election official embraces conspiracy theories and election denial”

NBC News:

The National Association of Secretaries of State Winter Conference is usually a cordial affair. It’s one of two occasions every year in which top election officials from most states gather to commiserate and share nonpartisan advice. But at this year’s conference, West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner drew rare groans from the crowd.

During the question-and-answer portion of a cybersecurity panel, which included senior officials from the FBI and Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Warner stepped up to the mic. “In October of 2020, the CIA lied to the American people on purpose and it was covered up by the FBI,” he said. “We have our own federal agencies lying to the American people.”

The panel thanked Warner tersely and moved on to another question.

Warner, who has been in his role for eight years and is running for the Republican nomination for governor, made similar conspiratorial claims about the CIA on the debate stage in December. His statements fit into a larger false conspiracy theory that he’s advanced that government agencies such as the CIA had a hand in rigging the 2020 election. The remarks have solidified him among his colleagues as the only sitting election director in the country to openly embrace the election denialism that former President Donald Trump has used to explain his 2020 loss.

“It is problematic when you have a chief election officer of a state embracing conspiracy theories that undermine people’s confidence in the election process for no good reason,” said Rick Hasen, a professor of election law at the UCLA School of Law. 

“People should be able to look to their election and elected officials to provide them with truthful information and not to fan the flames of conspiracies,” Hasen said.

Warner, more than any other top election official in the country, has vacillated over the years between promoting election conspiracy theories and fighting them.

In interviews, three secretaries of state told NBC News they believe his election rhetoric is a political tactic to garner votes, something he disputes.

Share this: