Former President Donald Trump appears with election denier Toni Shuppe.
Former President Donald Trump appears with QAnon-touting election denier Toni Shuppe. (Facebook)

A QAnon-Touting Election Denier Could Soon Run This Swing State’s Elections

The person who may end up running Pennsylvania's elections has pushed QAnon-linked conspiracies about a global cabal of pedophiles.
Cameron Joseph
Washington, US

In June 2020, stuck at home with her kids and growing increasingly infuriated by the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, Toni Shuppe binge-watched a QAnon conspiracy theory video series that changed her life—and altered the trajectory of her state’s politics.

“I knew there was more going on with this whole COVID crap than what we were being told, but I couldn’t figure out what it was, and in some weird way, the rabbit holes helped make sense of the craziness, ”she wrote in an April substack post recounting the moment. “I started sharing my newfound information with my family and friends who were willing to listen. Some of them woke up with me.”


Shuppe became a pro-Trump activist and embraced his false claims that the election had been stolen after he lost. In February 2021, Shuppe co-founded Audit the Vote PA to pressure lawmakers to audit Pennsylvania’s 2020 election. The group’s petition got 100,000 signatures in less than four months, transforming her into a fast-rising star of the hard right that soon landed on Trump’s radar—and perhaps most fatefully, introduced her to Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who was just making a MAGA name for himself with his own fight to overturn the 2020 election.

Now, Mastriano is the GOP’s nominee for governor, and there’s been widespread chatter—and some concrete signs—that he might appoint Shuppe to run the state’s election system if he wins this November.

But Shuppe’s conspiracy theorizing goes way beyond the 2020 election and COVID-19. She’s promoted a number of even wilder claims popular with the QAnon community—including the idea that a cabal of elites are running a global child sex slave ring.

This isn’t that different from Mastriano, who regularly used the hashtags #QAnon and #thegreatawakening, and teamed up with a coalition of QAnon-aligned candidates running for office. He and Shuppe both spoke at a conference hosted by prominent QAnon activists.


This all means that if Mastriano wins this fall, the administration of the 2024 presidential election in the nation’s largest swing state could be in the hands of two QAnon-linked, election-denying conspiracy theorists who are hell-bent on upending the current election system.

‘Down the Rabbit Holes’

The video series that Shuppe credits for her political awakening in mid-2020 is The Fall of the Cabal, a 10-parter that’s a smorgasbord of QAnon conspiracy theories.

“After I pulled an all-nighter watching The Fall of the Cabal, I was wrecked,” she wrote on her substack. “Between the compelling evidence indicating that the migrant caravan in 2018 was totally staged, to the bone chilling saga of Pizzagate, to the idea that JFK Jr. could still be alive (which I believe is completely false), my world was rocked. Honestly, I never felt so unstable in my life.”

Shuppe wrote that she turned to prayer for an answer, and that God responded, “It’s time to show the world who you became since you found Me.”

She set to work doing just that. In June 2020 Shuppe posted one Fall of the Cabal segment to Facebook, saying she’d done a deep dive and verified many of its wild claims.

“Don't bother sending me ‘debunking’ articles about this. I've seen them all. And in my digging, I discovered enough real information that would make you sick to your stomach and probably not be able to sleep at night. This is the censored version of reality. Enjoy the red pill if you choose to take it. I dare you. Most people can't handle the truth,” she wrote on Facebook in late June 2020.


This particular section alleged that the 2018 refugee caravans were a “staged event” created by crisis actors paid by liberal billionaire George Soros to “destabilize” the United States. The segment also claims he and others are involved in a global pedophilia cabal, a key element of QAnon’s core conspiracy theory.

Shuppe soon began regularly sharing QAnon posts and using the hashtag “WWG1WGA,” shorthand for the QAnon community’s official slogan, “Where we go one, we go all.” 

“So how did the Q movement gain so much steam? Because if you understand the message, it's a message of hope in a world that is literally starving for hope right now,” she wrote that July.


“I don't know if I consider myself a QAnon. I follow the movement,” she said during a Facebook livestream in September 2020, calling it “a very valuable resource” while warning people to fact-check its myriad claims for themselves.

“For anyone who wants to follow the Q movement… here is an update from my good friend,” she posted the following month. “I won't be debating any of this. I don't blindly accept it as truth either. Do your own research. I am just sharing it for those who want to dig in further.”

Shuppe also repeatedly mentioned “the storm,” a common QAnon trope.

“What if he was just the catalyst....but WE THE PEOPLE are the storm?” she posted with a meme of Trump in January this year.


Shuppe seemed particularly alarmed about pedophilia, arguing that the Wayfair and Pizzagate conspiracy theories that are popular within the QAnon community were both true.

“The Wayfair scandal is NOT a conspiracy theory. It's a conspiracy alright, but not a theory,” she wrote on Facebook in July 2020. “Stop insisting that Wayfair and Pizzagate are conspiracy theories. While all the info floating around the internet is probably not 100% true, the idea behind what's happening with those scandals is true,” she posted a bit later.


“I do believe that the idea of Pizzagate, what is happening there, is absolutely real. It is 100 percent real. It is happening,” she said in a Facebook livestream later that month.

These are far from the only conspiracy theories and extreme positions Shuppe has espoused.

She’s declared that “every state needs to secede from the Federal government,” written that she thinks former President John F. Kennedy “got his head blown off” by the CIA, falsely claimed that former President Barack Obama was a “Muslim” who was “born in Kenya,regularly promotes the anti-Fed conspiracy theory book “The Creature from Jekyll Island,” and claims that the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection “was a set-up.”


She’s also repeatedly claimed that the official story about the September 11th terror attacks was a “lie.”

“It is my opinion that 9/11 was also a false flag staged in order to pull the US into a war against Iraq,” she wrote in one Facebook post.

Into the MAGAverse

Shuppe’s conspiracy theorizing hasn’t hurt her political rise, however. Trump and his allies were happy to embrace her as a telegenic and articulate spokeswoman for their election lies. 

Shuppe had dinner with Trump in August 2021 and briefed him on her supposed evidence of widespread voting fraud in Pennsylvania, met with him at a May 2022 rally, and appears to have been given primo seats for his rally in Pennsylvania last weekend—she posted an up-close photo of the president onstage from the event. 


Former White House Chief of Staff Steve Bannon has had her on his War Room podcast multiple times to push her election conspiracy theories, including an appearance last week. She has befriended professional election conspiracy theorist and former Army intelligence Captain Seth Keshel, and posed for photos with Michael Flynn.

She’s also spoken at multiple events organized by MyPillow CEO and election conspiracy theory sugar daddy Mike Lindell, who she’s referred to as “America’s heartbeat,” and was given a prominent speaking slot at his recent Moment of Truth Summit in late August.


And she’s built ties with plugged-in Republicans as well. Shuppe spoke at a March “election integrity” summit organized by Cleta Mitchell, Trump’s top election attorney and a longtime power player in right-wing legal circles, that was attended by Republican National Committee officials.

But her connections with Mastriano are what could matter the most.

Shuppe spoke at Mastriano’s campaign kickoff event in January, and recorded an endorsement video for his campaign, where she praised him for being the only state senator “that was willing to admit that the 2020 election was not completely free and fair.”

And they’ve stayed close allies: Shuppe was a featured speaker at a Mastriano rally in late July, and posted a picture of her with Mastriano a few days later.

Not long after endorsing him, Shuppe floated the possibility that Mastriano might appoint her secretary of the commonwealth (Pennsylvania’s version of secretary of state).

“What if we get a Republican governor who has me work on election integrity, perhaps as secretary of the commonwealth?” she mused during an appearance on the Cannabis Conservative podcast.


Mastriano hasn’t announced anything explicit about the appointment, but Shuppe fits the bill. He’s said that he’s picked a top voting expert, and as the Huffington Post first noted, he’s referred to his pick as “her.”

“I get to appoint the secretary of state who on my behalf will have oversight on the election. I already have one of the leading figures in the nation on voting integrity, that person’s agreed. I have a team around her as well that ‘s going to include several people who are very knowledgeable in Pennsylvania,” he said at a March forum.

All this has led to widespread speculation that Mastriano will appoint Shuppe to run Pennsylvania’s election system if he wins the gubernatorial election this fall. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s senior political columnist recently made the case that she was a likely candidate for the job if Mastriano becomes governor.

Shuppe and Mastriano are largely on the same page with what they want to do to Pennsylvania’s election system. 

Mastriano has said he will attempt to decommission all of the state’s voting machines and force all voters to re-register, a move that likely would violate federal law, and has called for an end to the use of drop boxes and a repeal of the Pennsylvania law that allowed widespread voting by mail. 

Shuppe, who recently claimed that the FBI is “most certainly” covering up Chinese attacks on the American voting system, wants all of that as well. After Pennsylvania’s GOP lawmakers rejected her demand to “audit” the 2020 election, the group conducted its own unscientific and error-ridden audit, which gave her ammunition to claim one third of the state’s votes were fraudulent. Her organization’s current petition drive calls for decertifying Pennsylvania’s 2020 results and “throw off such Government that intends to keep the truth behind the 2020 election hidden.”

The group is now pressuring local election officials to stop using ballot drop boxes and throw out their voting machines and count the 2022 election by hand, a process that has repeatedly proven less accurate and reliable than machine counts, while organizing teams of  “like minded patriots” to monitor ballot drop boxes and film the “mules” she’s sure will try to rig November’s results.

Mastriano’s team, which as a policy ignores media requests unless they’re from friendly outlets, didn’t respond to questions for this story.

Shuppe repeatedly revoked VICE News’ attempts to subscribe to her substack, and emailed this reporter asking to stop subscribing, before publicly posting that email to her Gab account.

When VICE News replied with a list of questions seeking to clarify her views and whether Mastriano had promised her the job of secretary of the commonwealth, she declined to answer them.

“Thank you for reaching out. I do not engage with biased news sources like Vice. If you start working for a more fair and honest publication, I'd be willing to talk. Otherwise, have a great day,” she wrote in an email.