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Michael Flynn, former national security adviser to then-President Donald Trump and a conspiracy theory enthusiast, will be the headliner at a right-wing conference in Salt Lake City in October.
Organizers of the WeCANAct Liberty Conference say they’re expecting 10,000 attendees from surrounding states at the Salt Palace on Oct. 22-23. Tickets for the two-day event start at $139.
“We were looking at what is happening in our world and could not find good, accurate information,” Teena Horlacher, one of the conference organizers, said.
“The mainstream media doesn’t want to present both sides of the story, which is why we’re putting together this event, where we can give good information,” Horlacher continued.
Research has found a pattern of the same accounts circulating election-related disinformation in digital spaces. Stories are shared among pro-Trump influencers, QAnon boosters, and other outlets on the right, making for a one-sided disinformation campaign.
Flynn has courted controversy since he was fired by Trump just 24 days after taking over the national security job. In December, after Trump lost to Democrat Joe Biden, Flynn suggested Trump could invoke martial law to force new elections in several swing states. At a right-wing conference in Dallas earlier this summer, Flynn suggested a coup should happen in the U.S. He was pardoned by Trump shortly before Trump left office.
Organizers have posted a video of Flynn promoting the conference on their website, but he makes no mention of his attendance at the event.
Flynn was scheduled to speak at a QAnon conference in Las Vegas the same weekend, but Caesars Palace canceled its contract with The Patriot Voice, the group organizing the event. According to its website, the Las Vegas conference is still scheduled to take place on the same days as the Salt Lake City event, but no venue has been announced.
Horlacher says organizers have invited pillow maven Mike Lindell to speak at the Utah conference, too. Lindell has pushed unfounded claims of voter fraud since Trump lost to Biden.
The rest of the guest list is a who’s who of the far right.
Panelists include Dr. Simone Gold, who is the founder of America’s Frontline Doctors. NBC News recently reported that group is helping to drive demand for ivermectin, a livestock dewormer, as an alternative cure for COVID-19. Gold is also an anti-vaccine activist. She’s scheduled to speak on the “Constitutionality of the COVID Crisis.”
Far-right British commentator Katie Hopkins is also on the list. She has drawn heavy criticism for racist comments, including comparing migrants to “cockroaches.” She was recently deported from Australia for violating COVID-19 lockdown rules. She was there to compete on the “Big Brother” show, but was fired for controversial statements. Hopkins was permanently banned from Twitter last year.
Horlacher says organizers have not invited members of Utah’s Legislature or the state’s congressional delegation.
“We would love for them to come,” Horlacher said. “But this is not an event for politicians, per se. It’s more of an event where we can share information.”
Since she sees it as a nonpartisan event, would Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who was lustily booed by Republicans at their state convention in May, find a welcoming atmosphere?
“Mitt Romney would be more than welcome,” said Horlacher, adding that the conference is not strictly for Republicans or conservatives. She said planners are reaching out across the board for people to attend.
Horlacher declined to disclose how many tickets have been sold to the event, saying only that they’re “coming along.” But she is optimistic they’ll meet their goal of 10,000 attendees.
“This is not a Utah event. It’s an Intermountain West event,” Horlacher said, “so we’re going to see people from Idaho, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada come here.”
The American Association of School Librarians will be holding its annual conference in the Salt Palace at the same time.