A group of unvaccinated people who attended a huge conspiracy conference in Dallas earlier this month all became sick in the days after the event with symptoms like coughing, shortness of breath, and fever. Instead of blaming the global COVID pandemic, however, the conspiracy theorists think they were attacked with anthrax.
This far-right conspiracy claim began after a dozen people spent time together in a confined space at the ReAwaken America tour event in Dallas over the weekend of Dec. 10. And the fact that this was likely a COVID outbreak and superspreader event has been almost entirely ignored.
The anthrax claim was first made by Joe Oltmann on his Conservative Daily podcast earlier this week. In a video recording of the podcast, Oltmann can be seen coughing and sneezing on camera, symptoms often associated with COVID-19 or other illnesses.
Instead, Oltmann, who has spent much of 2021 spreading bogus election conspiracies, claimed that he and his fellow conspiracy theorists who recently attended the conference had been attacked by anthrax. The conference, run by Tulsa businessman Clay Clark, was headlined by figures like disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump adviser Roger Stone, and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell. Eric Trump, the son of former President Donald Trump, also spoke at the event.
“There’s a 99.9% chance it’s anthrax,” Oltmann said on his podcast, even though no one had tested positive for anthrax poisoning and none of the other 3,500 attendees have so far reported suffering the effects of anthrax.
Oltmann claimed that he and up to a dozen other people who were in the green room at an event fell ill over the following days..
While Oltmann said he was “sick, sick,” he claimed his symptoms were tempered because he was already taking the antibiotic doxycycline as a result of impaling his leg on an arrow in an accident in his brother’s garage weeks previously.
Jovan Pulitzer, an election conspiracist who was also at the conference, apparently experienced more severe symptoms.
Pulitzer, a failed inventor who once created a barcode scanner listed as one of the 50 worst inventions ever, was heavily involved in the bogus Arizona recount, consulting for the Cyber Ninjas and promoting the idea that box of ballots had been flown into Arizona on election night from Asia to swing the vote in Biden’s favor.
According to Oltmann, Pulitzer has not been heard from in several days and he reported more severe complications including “body lesions and weeping skin.”
The claims that these illnesses were due to an anthrax attack were shared and viewed hundreds of thousands of times on Telegram and other alt-tech platforms like Gab and Parler. The claims have also been boosted on mainstream social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
After Oltmann made the claim about anthrax—without providing a shred of evidence—the conspiracy was boosted by other election fraud conspiracists like former New Mexico State University professor David Clements, and Overstock.com founder Patrick Byrne.
The bogus claim was also boosted by QAnon influencer-turned-Congressional candidate Ron Watkins, who called for prayers for those affected.
After Oltmann made his initial claim, other conspiracy-minded folk highlighted a video from the event that showed a fog machine operating during the conference, suggesting that this is how the anthrax was spread—ignoring the fact that no anthrax outbreak has been reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or any other agency.
Clark, the organizer of the ReAwaken event, has dismissed the claims as “rumors.” He told the far-right online talk show host Stew Peters that he is not part of the Illuminati and that the fog machine in question was simply a fog machine.
Still, no one involved in the event has publicly entertained the idea that these illnesses could have been caused by COVID-19.