Lin Bennett QAnon

S.C. Rep. Lin Bennett, R-Charleston, was the subject of a Daily Beast story about her Facebook posts supporting QAnon conspiracy theory movement.

State Rep. Lin Bennett, a Charleston Republican known as one of the Statehouse's staunchest anti-abortion advocates, has posted support on Facebook for QAnon — the controversial conspiracy theory pushed by Donald Trump supporters that suggests Democrats are trying to overthrow the country and, with Hollywood celebrities, are behind a child-sex ring. 

Last year, Bennett, a frequent user of Facebook, called one QAnon post "a gem" and another "interesting." She vouched for theory backers, "They're legit," and used a QAnon phrase, "Panic in DC," in two separate posts.

But Bennett told The Post and Courier that she does not endorse QAnon despite The Daily Beast — which first reported the posts — saying she was "arguably the highest ranking politician to promote QAnon so far."

"I am not a follower of QAnon," Bennett said.

Bennett was keeping up with QAnon's predictions about the ongoing Robert Mueller-led investigation into Trump. Theorists believe Trump and Mueller are secretly working together in a crusade to jail Democrats, who are covertly running the nation's major law enforcement agencies as part of the "deep state."

Bennett said she shared QAnon snapshots about the probe that she received from other people.

Then the two-term lawmaker and former Charleston County GOP Party chairwoman checked out the theory and saw the conspiracies about vast criminal networks at the highest levels of the federal government. 

"I looked on Twitter and, after a while, I said, 'This is weird,'" Bennett said. "I got tired of looking at that stuff."

She dismissed QAnon because none of the predictions about the Mueller probe were coming true. QAnon was not a reliable source, she said.

"People were telling me that they hadn't been wrong and (then) I did my own homework," Bennett said. "They missed the post where I said, 'I'm getting bored with this.'"

Democrats are using The Daily Beast report in the hopes of winning the heavily Republican seat that covers parts of West Ashley and into Dorchester County, and was previously held by House Speaker Bobby Harrell.

"There is no way Lin Bennett’s constituents like her peddling an unhinged right wing conspiracy!" the state Democratic Party tweeted.

Bennett has stirred controversy online.

This month, she had a Facebook post suggesting Democratic congressman Joe Cunningham of Charleston did not place his hand over his heart during the national anthem at the commissioning of the Navy's USS Charleston. Turned out, Cunningham was clapping at the end of the anthem.

Bennett apologized but not before receiving profane messages on social media. She made her personal Twitter account private after that.

Lin Bennett

Lin Bennett

In February, she wrote about Virginia's Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam reversing his claim about wearing blackface in a photo appearing in his medical college yearbook. "On top of being a racist, baby killing monster, he's a lying douche who thinks we're stupid," she wrote.

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Bennett makes no apologies for her coarse language in fighting against abortion.

"He supports murdering babies," she said, referring to Northam's support of a bill that could allow late-term abortions if the mother's health is at risk.

Bennett operates rather mundane social media pages for her House seat where she keeps voters up to date on legislation and issues in Columbia. 

Her personal pages are a different story, with pointed comments on stories critical of the Trump administration and promoting abortion. 

"They’ve never been a fan of the Constitution," she said of Democrats supporting an end to the Electoral College. "It limits their power and control over us."

"My personal pages, I feel like is my free speech and my opinions, (and) your personal page is your free speech and your opinions," she said. "I don't go to anybody's page and attack them for what they say. They have a right to say it."

But does she have an obligation to watch what she posts on personal pages because she's a state lawmaker? 

"I don't think so," Bennett said. "Do you give up your right to be yourself or to be a citizen to have opinions and have friends that you can talk with? If that's the case, I'll take down the whole ... thing."

Asked about whether civility should come into play in her online posts, Bennett said, "You will never meet a nicer, kinder person than me. Truly. I'm not the animal y'all are trying to make me out to be." 

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Columbia Bureau Chief

Shain runs The Post and Courier's team based in South Carolina's capital city. He was editor of Free Times and has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Charlotte, Columbia and Myrtle Beach.