DENVER — Before the social media app Parler went offline, a resident of Parker took screenshots of several messages posted by Mayor Jeff Toborg.
One post included a picture of the American flag with the caption “WWG1WGA." It's shorthand for “where we go one, we go all," a phrase used by followers of QAnon, the debunked conspiracy claiming Democrats are part of a pedophilic cabal that eats babies and would be stopped by President Donald Trump before he left office.
Another post pushed the theory that the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was a “left-wing FALSE FLAG operation.” Yet another made a joke questioning the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Though in an interview with Next with Kyle Clark on Monday, Toborg, who became mayor in the fall, explained that sharing QAnon propaganda was a mistake.
Below is a portion of the discussion. You can watch the full interview here.
Some questions and answers have been edited for clarity and length.
Kyle Clark: The QAnon conspiracy theory is a dangerous hoax that's been linked to violence around the country, including a well-known criminal case in your town of Parker -- an attempted child kidnapping. Why would you promote that?
Jeff Toborg: The Parler post I posted was the "where we go one, we go all." I, honestly, I didn't realize that was a part of Q until it was brought to my attention. I did some research. Obviously, I do not support Q, I don't believe in Q. I wasn't aware of all the details behind it, and quite honestly, I find no place in our society for that kind of rhetoric. I was shocked at the little bit when I dug into it to see what was being it, and I have never believed in stuff like that, and I would never believe in stuff like that.
KC: The lead co-chair of Parker Republicans, Mark Hall, recently set up an online page with the express purpose of threatening the physical safety of public health workers in Colorado, publishing the home addresses of people like health inspectors, and epidemiologists, and doctors. You were one of the first to sign onto that page. Why?
JT: I got an invite from Mark Hall. I didn't look at it. As soon as you called, I looked at it and I immediately left it. Let me go on record, Kyle, as saying I denounce any violence of this type. You know, people cannot be made to feel unsafe or be made unsafe simply for the job they do. I have been saying that now since that came out publicly. Doxing is wrong. I am so sorry for even being associated with it for the couple of hours I was before you brought it to my attention.
Next reported on the group in December and contacted Toborg as part of that report.
KC: About your work with FEC (Faith, Education, Commerce United, a group formed in protest of health restrictions in Colorado related to COVID-19), where you were on the board -- FEC is building a sort of militia, the United American Defence Force, with the goal to "protect and defend what is ours." As mayor of Parker, would you invite your former group's militia to operate within your town?
JT: No, absolutely not. And the Defence Force was a separate part of FEC. The part of FEC I was involved in was on the politics and policy pillar. We were interested in finding candidates that would support the Constitution, but moreover, and like the pledge says right in the beginning, you'll be accountable to go back into your community, listen to your constituents and vote in the way they want you to vote.
KC: I'm trying to get this straight. You're saying even though you were on the board of directors of this political group that created a militia, you're not responsible for creating a militia?
JT: Kyle, the piece that I was in had no part of the militia. I had no part in the militia. That's not me denying. That was a separate and unequal part of FEC.
KC: On which you were a director, correct?
JT: At the time, I was a director, right -- of the politics and policy pillar.
KC: You put up a post about QAnon, that you said you were not really aware of. You've also posted the baseless conspiracy theories that the election was rigged. You questioned the safety of the COVID vaccine. You signed onto that group to dox public health workers, which you said you didn't know about. You were a board member and spoke at this rally where journalists were threatened by this group that also has a militia arm.
Do you believe that your own actions qualify as an extremist?
JT: No, absolutely not.
KC: Are you extremist-curious?
FULL INTERVIEW: Parker mayor describes his promotion of QAnon as a mistake
SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Full Episodes of Next with Kyle Clark