Former Trump White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has been frequently hosting QAnon conspiracy theorist Toni Shuppe on his podcast to push election lies and advocate for a Pennsylvania “audit” of the 2020 election.
Toni Shuppe is a founding member and the director of Public Relations of Audit The Vote PA, an “election integrity” group whose goal is to jumpstart an Arizona-style audit of the 2020 election in Pennsylvania. Shuppe and her group have pressured state Senate members repeatedly via social media to advocate for their cause.
With the recent development of Pennsylvania Republicans subpoenaing personal voter information, Audit The Vote PA’s tactics on the ground, connections to QAnon, and relationships with state senators are starting to closely resemble that of the Arizona election audit.
Audit The Vote PA’s organizing work and conspiracy theories even led to an election commissioner in Tioga County, Pennsylvania, to receive death threats after one of the group’s leaders instructed her followers to email the commissioner their “thoughts.” This incident also mirrors incidents in Arizona and other states in which federal officials have faced death threats over election audits.
A June report from Insider detailed Audit The Vote PA’s connection to Pennsylvania Republican state Senator and QAnon adherent Doug Mastriano. Mastriano has appeared at multiple Audit The Vote PA-sponsored events and is listed as the featured speaker on more than one occasion. Insider’s report also described Shuppe’s own history of promoting QAnon hashtags and the Pizzagate conspiracy theory.
When asked by Insider if Audit The Vote PA was associated with QAnon, the group stated that none of the organizers “consider themselves followers of QAnon" and are “aware” but “not affiliated” with the conspiracy theory.
However, Shuppe’s history of promoting these conspiracies goes beyond this reporting.
Based on a Media Matters review, there are multiple online instances of Shuppe using the QAnon hashtag “WWG1WGA,” promoting QAnon literature, posting a 9/11 conspiracy theory meme (claiming the terrorist attack was a distraction from a “gold heist”), and advertising her group’s interview with QAnon influencer RedPill78. (Zak Paine, who uses the pseudonym RedPill78, participated in the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol).
During a Facebook live on January 8, Shuppe admitted to being “outside” of the Capitol during the insurrection. She claimed she didn’t see any of the “horrific things” because there are “lots of angles” of the building. During her live, Shuppe also pushed the QAnon-linked conspiracy theory that Italy meddled in the 2020 election (they didn't).
Shuppe and her lackeys were also present at MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s “cyber symposium" where he spent three days spewing election conspiracy theories claiming that China rigged the 2020 election. After the event, Audit The Vote PA wrote on Telegram that one of its “biggest takeaways from the Symposium” was that “the deep state is 100% real.”
Now, Shuppe is a regular on Bannon’s podcast where she constantly updates his listeners on a Pennsylvania election “audit.”
During one of Shuppe’s podcast appearances on September 3, Bannon promoted her audit “petition” of the Pennsylvania results and asked her to talk more about it. In her response, Shuppe suggested that voter fraud evidence “has been swept under the rug.” She continued, stating that she was “clueless about politics as of March 1, 2020” and said she believes that her effort to start an audit is “evidence of God working through me” to find someone “to be held accountable” for election “anomalies.”
Shuppe also claimed during this appearance that she “personally knocked on doors" and found “proof" that ballots were "messed with.”
During another appearance on September 8, Shuppe promoted Audit The Vote PA’s canvass of voters in Pennsylvania. She shared that her group knocked on resident’s doors to question them about “how they voted in 2020” and “how many people are registered to vote at their house and how many people from that house actually voted.” Shuppe claimed her group is finding “massive discrepancies” and that even as far back as November and December, the group had found “78,000 phantom votes” — a number her group had extrapolated after surveying just 1,600 households. She admitted that there are people saying that Audit The Vote PA is “intimidating people, but they are completely lying.”
Bannon also brought up a canvass report linked with Liz Harris — another QAnon adherent who played a large role in bringing an audit to Arizona and conducted a voter canvass with results that were eventually debunked.
In May 2020, the Department of Justice sent a letter to the Arizona Senate stating that a voter canvass in Arizona could possibly violate federal law against voter intimidation. It is unclear whether Shuppe’s canvass violates federal law because of the accusations of intimidation by Pennsylvania residents.
Similarly to the QAnon groups associated with the Arizona audit, Audit The Vote PA’s pressure campaigns and groundwork seemingly appear to be helping to advance the push for a Pennsylvania audit. Shuppe has applied continued pressure on Pennsylvania state Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, a Republican, on Bannon’s show.
Just days before the Pennsylvania state Senate approved subpoenas for personal voter information from the 2020 election, Shuppe appeared on War Room to blast Corman for not asking “the right questions,” and instructed her followers to “go on their social media pages and comment” because “it's the equivalent of calling them out in the public square, if you will.” Shuppe also suggested that the state Senate “remove” Corman from the president pro tempore position when it goes back in session.
Toward the end of the interview, Bannon implied that “confrontation at the Senate level” is the right move because it’s “not moving quickly enough.”
For months, Bannon has had an obsession with bringing election “audits” to all 50 states and sees Pennsylvania as a particularly attractive place to spread his election fraud conspiracy theories. During the September 15 edition of his podcast, he explained that Pennsylvania is “different” because it is one of the “big industrial states that have been controlled by Democrats” and a grassroot movement pursuing an audit there will force “the establishment to respond.”
Bannon will not stop until he has undermined election integrity across the entire nation, and he will continue to bring conspiracy theorists and wackjobs along for the ride.