The G.O.P. nominee for Maryland attorney general promoted 9/11 conspiracy theories.
Maryland’s Republican governor last weekend convicted his party’s state attorney general nominee for promoting a conspiracy theory about the September 11 attacks. The governor criticized the GOP’s direction two weeks after voters chose far-right candidates for top state offices.
“Blaming our country for the atrocities committed by Al Qaeda is an insult to the memory of the thousands of innocent Americans and brave first responders who died that day,” Governor Larry Hogan said. wrote on Twitter on Sunday. “These disgusting lies have no place in our party.”
The nominee, Michael Anthony Peroutka, suggested on a radio show he co-hosted in 2006 that toppled controlled demolitions of the World Trade Center, a thoroughly debunked conspiracy theory. CNN reported his comments on Sunday.
“If the buildings in New York City, the buildings of the World Trade Center, have been brought down by demolition charges — that is, if there was evidence that something was there, that something was preset there — then the implications of that are huge,” said Mr. Peroutka. “I’ve done some reading and studying, and I believe that’s very, very true.”
He then wondered if there were “charges in every building” in New York City, “ready to be knocked down when some elite bureaucrat decides he’s going to retract it.”
The resurfaced comments provoked condemnation from Mr. Peroutka’s Democratic opponent, Representative Anthony G. Brown, who tweet“It is shameful and disqualifying to push ridiculous, debunked conspiracy theories.”
Peroutka, who also previously denounced public education and the separation of church and state, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.
Mr. Hogan, a moderate Republican popular in Maryland but unable to run for reelection due to term limits, has been a rare internal voice against the GOP’s upward move. He backed a protégé, Kelly Schulz, to replace him as governor, but Ms. Schulz lost the Republican primary to Dan Cox, a Trump-backed state legislator.
Mr Cox denies the legitimacy of the 2020 election, has connections to the QAnon conspiracy theory and has campaigned against Christian nationalist views. Mr Hogan, whose spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment, has said he will not support him in the general election.
Mr. Hogan is virtually relinquishing his office to a Democratic successor; The Democratic nominee, Wes Moore, an author and former nonprofit executive, is heavily favored against Mr. cox.
Even before Mr. Hogan condemned Mr. Peroutka’s comments, Mr. Brown was expected to succeed Brian Frosh, another Democrat, as Attorney General. Reliably Democratic in federal elections, Maryland has traditionally been receptive to moderate Republicans like Mr. Hogan for state office, but not to those farther to the right.
Mr Perutka, a former chairman of Anne Arundel County Council and the 2004 Constitution Party presidential candidate, was once connected with the neo-confederal organization League of the South and has promoted extreme views.
In an opinion essay published in 2014, he called the separation of church and state a ‘big lie’. In a council debate that year, he said the First Amendment’s ban on establishing a religion was only intended to protect various Christian denominations, not “Muhammadism or Islam”; denounced free public education as “the 10th plank in the Communist Manifesto”; and ridiculed evolution. “Our children are taught that their great-great-grandfather was a hunk of primordial ooze in a pond somewhere and that their grandfather was a slimy, eel-like thing that finally got legs after a million years and that their father was a monkey,” he said in the debate. .
Mr. Peroutka has focused his most recent campaign on resisting pandemic lockdowns and mandates, even though Maryland ended public restrictions more than a year ago.