The California Republican Party and two county Republican parties are distancing themselves from a candidate who pushed 9/11 conspiracy theories and used an Alex Jones video to support his claims.
As Media Matters reported on September 25, Republican congressional candidate Ron Cohen claimed that “Bush staged 9/11,” said the collapse of 7 World Trade Center was a “pre-planned demolition,” and cited a video from Alex Jones’ Infowars network as evidence in explaining why he's a 9/11 truther. After Media Matters’ report, he removed the referenced conspiracy theories from his campaign website and Twitter account.
Cohen’s website had stated that he’s “endorsed by: The California GOP, The Alameda County Republican Party, and the Santa Clara County Republican Party.” Those references have since been removed.
Media Matters contacted those three groups and asked whether they’re still backing Cohen in light of his remarks.
Matt Fleming, CAGOP spokesperson, told Media Matters in an email: “I am aware of his comments and of course we disagree. The party has not provided any support to his candidacy and there are no plans to.” Media Matters asked if the party planned to revoke its endorsement of Cohen but has not heard back.
The Alameda County Republican Party has removed its endorsement of Cohen from its website and now states it has “no endorsement” in the race. Cohen also states on his website that he's “a member of the Alameda County Republican Central Committee.” The party did not respond to a request for comment.
Bob Nuñez, chairman of the Republican Party of Santa Clara County, told Media Matters that his party has suspended Cohen’s endorsement, saying his remarks are “not something we support or endorse at all.” Nuñez added that the party has given him a chance to explain his remarks, but Cohen sent an email stating that he’s taken down the remarks and said he didn't have time to meet with party officials. The party will meet on Friday and decide the fate of the Cohen endorsement. (Update, 10/16: Nuñez told Media Matters that the committee ended up revoking its endorsement.)
In addition to his 9/11 conspiracy theories, Cohen has pushed other conspiratorial rhetoric. He’s stated on his website that he’s been “very concerned that the Airforce has been spraying us with chemicals.”
San Jose Inside's Jennifer Wadsworth also reported on September 22 that Cohen “took to Twitter to rail against immigrants, cast doubt on the rape allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanagh and promote a conspiracy theory about Michelle Obama being born a man.” Cohen also “went on to suggest that Barack Obama is secretly gay and that Sasha and Malia had surrogate parents because of Michelle’s inability to conceive as a biological male. Basically, the same wackadoodle plots hawked by Twitter outcast and snake-oil salesman Alex Jones.”
Cohen tweeted on September 26: “I was in a discussion a few days ago and wrote several tweets that were unkind and thoughtless about President Obama and Former First Lady Michelle Obama. I have deleted them.”
The California Republican Party also briefly endorsed congressional candidate John Fitzgerald, an anti-Semite who has appeared on neo-Nazi podcasts and claimed that the Holocaust is a “lie.” The New York Times reported on July 6 that the California Republican Party’s “brief endorsement of a Holocaust denier ... has prompted Republican leaders there to take candidate vetting more seriously, and comes at a time when extremist and anti-Semitic candidates are receiving increased exposure on the national political stage.”