An online show host who is a prominent supporter of the QAnon conspiracy theory has been organizing an effort to use the courts to block mandates on masks and vaccines around the country. The effort has involved the widow of former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN), and it has been promoted by one of the biggest financial backers of the Arizona election “audit.”
The QAnon influencer -- Terpsichore Maras-Lindeman, known online as “Tore” -- originally gained prominence in the far-right by appearing in a 2020 conspiracy theory film called Shadowgate (created by a QAnon-supporting former Infowars personality). She was later cited as a witness before the Supreme Court by Sidney Powell as part of Powell’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, and in late September she apparently attended a meeting involving former Trump adviser Steve Bannon. Tore has also previously been convicted of violating consumer protection laws in North Dakota, and she has made a significant amount of money streaming on Twitch.
Since September, Tore has turned her attention to coronavirus-prevention mandates. In early September, she filed a lawsuit against the Ohio school district her daughter attends to block a mask mandate. And later that month, she filed a request for a writ of mandamus before the Ohio Supreme Court “asking judges to block Gov. Mike DeWine or any of his agents from requiring anyone in the state to take a vaccine, provide a DNA sample, wear a medical device like a mask or have their temperatures taken.”
On her show (and in her filing), Tore has claimed that the legal justification for her case is that the Ohio Constitution has provisions that bar anyone from “forc[ing] us to take any medication” or to “participate in any health care system. That means data collection, data information, temperature taking, masks.” (Her filing also includes an “exhibit Q,” potentially a reference to QAnon.)
To help her legal case, Tore has urged people in the state to send her affidavits claiming they have also been harmed under this supposed legal violation. In an Ohio Telegram group she created, Tore urged members to send her affidavits for her case, including posting an affidavit template for them to use.
She also participated in an audio chat with members of the Ohio group on September 10, the day her case was filed, explaining how to write the affidavits and telling them, “We need to get this shit out ASAP.” Multiple people in the group said in response they had or would send her affidavits, and her lawsuit has since included multiple affidavits.
Tore also used the Ohio group to organize lawsuits against other school districts in her state, sharing her suit in the group and urging people to use it to “file this shit in your district.” She also called for members going “to a school meeting” to write “#SCHOOLMEETING” in the group so “I can scroll back find you and send you my filed complaint so you can take it with you. ... That way you can tell them. THIS IS WHAT YOU WILL BE FILING.” She then hyped other school lawsuits that would be filed in the state days later. The lawsuits have been featured in local TV news coverage, which Tore has highlighted.
Another group member promoted Tore’s “Ohio Lawsuits Legal Fund” and urged members to donate “what you can so those that can file a lawsuit won’t have to pay for their court filing fees.” The page for the legal fund features a photo of Tore and the text, “THIS is WAR! Lawsuits MUST be filed NOW! If YOU'RE not Filing, please support those who ARE.”
The page for the legal fund also provides a link to donate via the payment processor Square, whose rules say it prohibits content that “is false, misleading, unlawful,” content that “encourages conduct that would be considered a criminal offense or gives rise to civil liability,” and content that is “illegal, obscene, hateful or harmful to you, our customers or us.” The page says the effort has raised more than $13,000. The fund also allows users to donate via Venmo, a platform owned by PayPal, which had previously banned Tore and other QAnon influencers from using its service.
Tore’s efforts have not been limited to just Ohio. She has created Telegram groups for each of the 50 states, and she uses them to urge others to replicate her work. On her show on September 20, Tore explained her plan, saying, “I want to get the majority of states filing the same damn thing, talking about their rights being infringed before I can petition SCOTUS to force my court to move. If I have 26 states filing writ of mandamuses against their own governors under the same reasons, then boom, it’s done.”
She also urged listeners to “get in the state groups” that she created on Telegram, saying she wanted “one brave person in your state to file the writ [of] mandamus” and the “rest of you” to “file affidavits in support of that writ [of] mandamus.”
Later in the show, she further elaborated on her plan, saying, “Find constitutional verbiage in your state’s constitution and latch on to that bitch and file that writ of mandamus,” adding, “In your groups, there are people that can help. We’re all here to help.” She then said the QAnon slogan, “Where we go one, we go all.”
In her Arizona group, Tore urged members to create a writ of mandamus and affidavits, writing that she would give whoever filed the writ money “from our OHIO fund” if needed. An administrator for the group later invoked the QAnon slogan as he wrote that a writ had been written and filed, and group members said they sent affidavits. The state court later denied the writ, though the administrator wrote that they were “NOT defeated” yet and that “ROUND TWO” was “coming to a Court House near you!”
In Tennessee, a writ of mandamus was filed by Jeri Thompson, the widow of Sen. Thompson and a former radio host who previously worked for the Republican National Committee. Jeri Thompson, who has expressed support for QAnon, posted in the Tennessee group that she had filed a writ for the state, and urged members to “flood” the state’s governor’s office “with affidavits In support of the writ” in order for the state to be “standing with Tore at SCOTUS.” Tore in turn posted in the group urging members to “fil[e] affidavits under JERIS case.”
On October 4, Thompson appeared on conservative commentator David Brody’s Water Cooler show on Real America’s Voice to promote her writ request, saying, “I didn't realize this law was actually in Tennessee code at all. I would not have even thought to look but for Tore Says group.”
Tore has also offered legal help to people in other states. She has said on her show that if “you need legal help” putting these cases and affidavits together, “there's a Tore Says legal team. We have tons of lawyers and, you know, paralegals that will help put things together, not perfectly, but guide you.” In online conversations posted in Tore’s Telegram groups, people identifying themselves as attorneys said they were assisting Tore and the groups.
This pattern appeared to play out in various state groups, with groups announcing they had filed writs and urging people to file, explaining how to file, and collecting affidavits. On October 1, Tore wrote that “38 out of 50 states FILED Writ of Mandamus' against their GOVERNORS,” adding, “Justice Kavanaugh we are coming FULL SPEED AHEAD!”
The campaign has also gotten a boost from Patrick Byrne, the former Overstock CEO and a QAnon-connected figure whose group, The America Project, was the biggest funder of the Arizona “audit” pushing false claims of voter fraud. Byrne also met with Trump after the 2020 election to push those voter fraud claims.
On September 20, Byrne posted on his Locals page a video in which he explained Tore’s legal campaign and said he “so applaud[s] what she’s doing.” He added, “It’s finally what our side needed, and we’re proud at The America Project, I am proud to call her -- to call Tore an ally.” Tore later shared the video.
A week earlier, as supposed proof of the effectiveness of her organizing, Tore played audio of Byrne promoting her effort, which included him saying, “I don't want to compare it to Q. But it’s like if there were a Q 2.0 kind of mass movement ... forming spontaneously around this woman.”
On September 24, Byrne appeared on Tore’s show, where he told her, “I want to thank your viewers, Tore. I love what you have built in your time-traveling Tore world is beyond belief. I walked Gen. Flynn through it, we were laughing and laughing at the brilliance of it, and the fact that you have this grassroots movement that is doing -- doing this and filing these cases, and doing this research and drafting cases, and copycatting around the country is just -- I tip my hat,” referring to Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn.
He added that “I was briefing a lawyer very close to the president” -- referring to Trump -- “all about you in the last 36 hours and what your team’s doing.” Byrne again appeared on Tore’s show on September 29, and again lauded her organizing, saying he was “proud of what you’ve built.”
This is not the first time Tore has used her Telegram groups to organize such activity. Earlier this year, she organized an effort to target public officials, falsely claiming that they were not legitimately elected due to supposed voter fraud.