Republican Party officials in Illinois withdraw support for GOP congressional nominee after Media Matters' reporting

Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

Republican Party officials in Illinois have withdrawn their support for congressional candidate and conspiracy theorist Bill Fawell.

Fawell is a real estate broker and writer who is challenging incumbent Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos. He won the Republican primary in March after running unopposed.

Media Matters has documented in recent days that Fawell has frequently pushed toxic conspiracy theories:

  • Fawell promoted material claiming that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a false flag. He also smeared late Sandy Hook Elementary Principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, who died trying to protect students during the shooting.
  • Fawell has pushed conspiracy theories about mass shootings in Orlando, FL; San Bernardino, CA; and Aurora, CO.
  • Fawell has promoted the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, which falsely holds that prominent politicians have trafficked children through the Washington, D.C., restaurant Comet Ping Pong.
  • Fawell has written that “9/11's masterminds” were “our CIA and Israel's Mossad”; 9/11 was an “obvious false flag attack whose work was farmed out to Israel’s Mossad by elements high up in our government"; and if “there is another” 9/11-type attack, “you can bet … they’ll [the CIA and Mossad] have made it too.”
  • Fawell has claimed that late Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was assassinated for “giving 44,000 DNC emails to Wikileaks” and that former Hillary Clinton presidential campaign chair John Podesta “ordered the hit.”

CNN’s Nathan McDermott and Andrew Kaczynski reported on May 25 that Fawell “pushed a conspiracy theory that 7 World Trade Center collapsed as part of a controlled demolition and the attacks were a plot to destroy documents” and “singer Beyonce Knowles has ties to the Illuminati.”

The Dispatch/The Rock Island Argus reported last night that “Republican party officials are withdrawing support for 17th Congressional District candidate Bill Fawell after reviewing alleged conspiracy theories posted by Fawell on social media.”

State Republican party chairman Tim Schneider, Rock Island County Republican party central committee chair Drue Mielke, and Republican state central committeeman for the 17th Congressional District, Jan Weber, removed their support of Fawell on Tuesday.


“Bill Fawell has a problem with the truth and his statements have done a disservice to the individuals who lost their lives from terrible acts of violence,” Schneider said. “As chairman of the Illinois Republican party, I disagree with his misguided views and cannot support his candidacy for Congress in the 17th Congressional District.”

Mielke voiced his support for Fawell to the Dispatch-Argus in July, but said he changed his mind after viewing some of the social media posts.

Doug House, president of the Illinois Democratic County Chairs’ Association and chair of the Rock Island County Democrats, had also recently criticized Republican leaders for supporting a “bizarre conspiracy theorist.”

In July, the National Republican Congressional Committee withdrew its support for New Jersey congressional candidate Seth Grossman shortly after Media Matters documented that he promoted white nationalist propaganda.