QAnon tweets on Hawaii GOP’s official account raise questions about party’s direction

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Updated: Jan. 26, 2021 at 10:32 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A high-ranking Hawaii GOP official has resigned over tweets supporting QAnon followers, but the controversy is raising new questions for the party.

Edwin Boyette, vice chair for communications for the Hawaii Republican Party, said his tweets on the party’s Twitter account were “errors in judgement.”

The party’s chair said the tweets don’t represent the views of the organization.

“Those tweets were unauthorized,” said Shirlene Ostrov,Hawaii Republican Party chair. “I think everyone can recognize that those tweets are isolated incidents and the person has since been removed.”

Longtime Republican state Rep. Gene Ward issued this statement:

“Fortunately, he resigned before he was to be censured, reprimanded and removed,” Ward wrote. “Let me be clear, that statement was made by an overzealous party officer that was unauthorized, unfounded and was total nonsense not reflecting the views of our party leaders.”

But Democrats say the tweets are representative of a bigger problem.

“It’s not just one person. This is a whole committee of folks who have been enabling this for far too long and that needs to end,” said Tyler Dos Santos-Tam, chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii.

QAnon followers believe in a conspiracy theory that an organization of Satan-worshiping pedophiles ― most of them Democrats ― control a “deep state” that sought to undermine Donald Trump.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige called QAnon and other similar conspiracy theories “absurd.”

“Every single one of them has been debunked as factually inaccurate and totally nonsense,” he said.

Dos Santos-Tam cited other tweets on the GOP Twitter account supporting extremist views including one by an alleged Holocaust denier.

The tweet, which has since been taken down by the party, referred to Mainland blogger Tarl Warwick as someone whose “commentary and analysis is generally high quality.”

Years ago, Warwick questioned the actual death toll at Auschwitz.

“Whatever the death toll was you cannot say every death was the result of execution,” Warwick said. “The actual chamber that would have been the gas chamber is a far smaller unit with some pumps in it. The famous Auschwitz shower was quite literally a showering station. They’ve got like swimming pools at these places.”

In deleting this tweet, Ostrov issued this statement:

“To our friends in the Jewish community, we find the comments to be deeply disturbing and offensive and have no place in our party much less in our country,” she wrote.

Political analyst Colin Moore said the tweets underscore the Hawaii GOP’s shift to a more extremist philosophy from the pro-business, more centrist views of Republican lawmakers like Ward, former Gov. Linda Lingle, former Congresswoman Pat Saiki and former state Sen. Fred Hemmings.

“There are elements in this party that support QAnon, the Proud Boys and other fringe groups,” said Moore. “Look: The Hawaii GOP ran as one of their candidate Nick Ochs.”

Ochs was the founder of Proud Boys Hawaii and ran unsuccessfully for the state House seat in Waikiki last year. He recently was arrested and charged with trespassing during the Jan. 6 attempted takeover of the U.S. Congress.

Former Republican lawmaker Sam Slom said the problem isn’t with radicals who have joined the party. He believes the problem is a lack of leadership within in.

“Today, you’ve got a Republican party that’s split in two ― locally and nationally. You’ve got a lot of splinter groups. You don’t have anybody identified as speaking for the party itself,” Slom said.

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