Republicans have nominated right-wing commentator Leon Benjamin for Virginia's special U.S. House election next month. Benjamin is an election denier who has frequently pushed fringe conspiracy theories, including claiming that the pandemic was actually a “cover-up” by elites to usher in a “new world order”; COVID-19 vaccines contain a “tracking system” and herald the “mark of the beast”; and COVID-19 tests secretly implement a “wiring system inside you that is controlled by 5G.”
Benjamin is a pastor and the host of B-Alert News, which streams on the conspiracy theory network Brighteon. He has appeared as a commentator on numerous fringe programs, including those hosted by QAnon supporters Ann Vandersteel, Mel K, and Jeffrey Pedersen (or “intheMatrixxx”).
Benjamin has been on a program on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ Infowars network with host Owen Shroyer, who is a January 6 insurrectionist and Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist. Benjamin posed for a picture with Jones in 2021.
He is running in the February 21 special election for Virginia’s 4th Congressional District, which was vacated due to the death of Democratic Rep. Donald McEachin. Benjamin unsuccessfully ran for the seat in 2020 and 2022.
Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who has attempted to portray himself as a moderate, endorsed Benjamin during his 2022 run. The Virginia GOP backs his campaign, writing that he will “defend the interests of working families in Congress.” Benjamin was previously the chair of the Richmond City Republican Party.
Benjamin was outside the Capitol on January 6 and posted about his participation on Facebook. He has also posted a conspiracy theory about the death by suicides of police officers at the Capitol, writing: “FOURTH DC Metro Police Officer Who Responded to January 6 Capitol Protest Dies by Suicide. Does this sound strange to anyone??? We must pray harder now. We are at the Red Sea Moment in America’s history! The armies of Pharaoh and these faces we will see no more.”
Benjamin regularly uses his media platforms to promote conspiracy theories about prior elections and COVID-19. Here are numerous examples.
Benjamin claimed that COVID-19 “was a cover-up for the actual agenda, which was to take over our nation through tyranny and set up a whole, what we say, a global reset, a new world order. A new form of government.” From the September 8, 2022, edition of Catching Fire News:
Benjamin claimed that COVID-19 vaccines include supposedly satanic “luciferase” and PCR tests implement a wiring system that is “controlled by 5G.” Despite conspiracy theorists’ claims, as The Associated Press wrote, “Luciferase is not an ingredient in any of the COVID-19 vaccines. Instead, luciferase is a generic term for a group of enzymes that trigger the oxidation of chemicals called luciferins.” PCR tests also do not implement a 5G system in human bodies. From the September 27, 2021, edition of Benjamin’s program:
Benjamin has compared COVID-19 vaccines to “the mark of the beast.” Here are two examples -- from his March 7, 2022, show;
Benjamin claimed that the 2020 election “was stolen. It was infiltrated by China and by many other communistic nations.” From an August 20, 2022, interview:
Benjamin: “They made up ballots. They recounted ballots. They did all kinds of stuff. They finagled with the machines.” From a September 10, 2021, interview on The Pete Santilli Show: