A QAnon influencer and grifter who claims she can time travel, who led a campaign to replace elected officials with QAnon supporters, and who boosted a conspiracy theory about foreign interference in the 2020 election in an election lawsuit before the Supreme Court, now wants to become Ohio’s next Secretary of State.
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And Terpsehore Maras isn’t even trying to hide her affiliation to QAnon.Launching her official YouTube and Facebook campaign pages this week, Maras, who is known to her followers simply as Tore and is also known by numerous other aliases, uploaded a logo, replacing the ‘o’ in ‘Secretary of State’ with a Q.
But then again, Maras, who did not respond to VICE News’ questions about her campaign, is not one for subtlety. “As SOS of Ohio I will get rid of EVERY SINGLE ELECTION VOTING MACHINE,” Maras wrote on Telegram this week. “Humans will be paid to count the votes live on camera. Paper ballots and PEN ONLY. I will do that on day one.”Maras then went on to reference a widely debunked conspiracy theory about Venezuela somehow impacting U.S. elections.Maras is seeking the Republican nomination and will face off against incumbent Frank LaRose and former state legislator John Adams in May’s primary.LaRose has insisted Ohio’s vote in 2020 was run fairly, but at the same time has refused to say former President Donald Trump lost the presidential election, in an overt attempt to curry favor with the man who still controls the Republican Party. Adams, meanwhile, is a diehard Trump supporter and has openly shared conspiracy theories about the 2020 vote.
Maras has no previous experience in public office but has spent the last 18 months tirelessly spreading conspiracy theories online, claiming that the 2020 election was stolen—even though Trump won Ohio by 8 points and no lawsuits have been brought against the results in the state.So while it may seem like Maras is a complete outsider with no chance of winning the Republican nomination, she is joining a growing group of QAnon believers and election truthers who feel emboldened by the Republican party’s shift to the right and its embrace of conspiracies about the 2020 election.Indeed, Maras is already the fifth secretary of state candidate running for election next November who has voiced support for QAnon, according to a tracker maintained by Media Matters for America. This trend is part of a much broader campaign to replace sitting election officials with those who believe that Trump won the 2020 election.And Maras has support from major figures in MAGA world, including former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Bryne, who has become one of the loudest voices in the “Stop the Steal” movement.
Maras’ Telegram posts and podcasts are also shared widely among grassroots groups who claim to be working on “election integrity” issues, and who view her as someone with insider knowledge. Last year Maras leveraged her newfound fame to orchestrate a nationwide campaign to oust elected officials and replace them with QAnon believers, leveraging the game-streaming platform Twitch and encrypted messaging app Telegram to do it.But Maras’ background shows that she has repeatedly inflated her experience and at times outright lied about her credentials.When lawyer Sidney Powell asked the Supreme Court to overturn the 2020 election results in December that year, as part of her widely derided Kraken lawsuits, she cited an anonymous source described as “a private contractor with experience gathering and analyzing foreign intelligence.” The anonymous source claimed knowledge of a plot to rig the election by a foreign entity.Weeks later, the Washington Post unmasked Maras as that source, revealing that the sum total of her military experience amounted to a single eight-month training stint in the Navy that ended in August 1997. The Post was unable to verify Maras’ claims to have worked as a private contractor, but Maras claimed that this was because her work had been covert and that “people like me don’t exist.”
Sections of Maras’ affidavit to the Supreme Court claiming foreign interference in the election were copied word-for-word from a blog post she had written a full 12 months before the election.In 2018, a judge in a civil case in North Dakota, where she was living at the time, ordered her to pay $25,000 after she collected money to fund homeless shelters and wreaths for veterans’ graves but used it instead to make purchases for herself at McDonald’s, QVC, and elsewhere. The judge also found that Maras had raised the funds while “misrepresenting education and experience that she did not possess.”Attorneys for North Dakota in the case said that Maras falsely claimed to be a medical doctor and to have both a PhD and an MBA.In an interview with the Washington Post last year, Maras said she had appealed the decision to the state Supreme Court and denied mishandling the funds and misleading donors, claiming it was a case of identity theft. She further claimed the case was brought for political reasons and was a “vindictive exercise” that was overkill given the amount of money involved: “They took a missile to kill a fly,” her lawyer David Thompson, told the Post.Another lawyer representing Maras told VICE that she has accurately represented her record. “Ms. Maras has not misrepresented her expertise and she has not made any misrepresentations to any courts of law. Ms. Maras' signed declaration [used in the Powell case] was (and still is) sworn testimony that she made under oath and penalty of perjury.”
But these obvious red flags haven’t prevented her from growing a loyal following. She now has over 23,000 subscribers on the streaming platform Twitch, which has earned her tens of thousands of dollars. The platform has also made Maras a verified partner, meaning she gets to keep 70% of all subscription fees.And a crowdfunding campaign launched with the purported aim of raising money to buy Maras a new car, after she claimed hers was stolen, has just passed the $100,000 mark. It’s still accepting donations even though Maras already purchased a Tesla with the money it raised.The organizer of the crowdfunding campaign did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment on what the money is now being used for.Despite her background in grifting, Maras’ appears to be basing her campaign for secretary of state in Ohio at least in part on integrity and transparency.“Fundamentally all social and political questions are economic,” Maras wrote in a comment posted to her campaign Facebook account this week. “Even your vote is about money, you are in essence the consumer but you are also being consumed, like a hamster on a wheel that the politicians spin.”Correction: An earlier version of this story referred to Maras as a “convicted” grifter. As the North Dakota case was a civil one and not a criminal one, this was not accurate. We regret the error. This story has also been updated to include details of previous legal actions against Maras and comments from her lawyer.Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.