QAnon Linked Candidate in FEC Crosshairs After Failing to Disclose Funds

Federal election regulators want an Arizona congressional candidate linked to the QAnon conspiracy theory to account for about 40 percent of funds raised by his campaign.

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) earlier this week contacted Ron Watkins' congressional campaign asking it to explain $20,626 it had not reported earlier. The commission's scrutiny is the latest for Watkins, who is making a Republican bid for Congress after becoming a central figure in the QAnon conspiracy movement.

The commission's letter requests information on why Watkins' campaign filed an amended report disclosing the additional funds. A report filed by Watkins' campaign in January disclosed $30,588 in contributions; however, an amendment filed on March 24 showed a new total of $51,214.

Yellowstone Wolf QAnon Protest Maricopa
Arizona congressional candidate Ron Watkins, linked to the QAnon conspiracy theory, has been asked by the FEC to account for about 40 percent of funds raised by his campaign. Pictured, a protester calling themselves Yellowstone Wolf wraps themselves in a QAnon flag while addressing supporters of then-President Donald Trump outside the Maricopa County Election Department in Phoenix, Arizona, as votes were being counted in the U.S. presidential election on November 5, 2020. Oliver Touron/AFP via Getty Images

"Failure to comply with the provisions of the Act may also result in an enforcement action against the committee," the FEC said in the letter.

Both documents list Watkins as campaign treasurer. But the FEC letter asking about the unaccounted funds is directed to campaign treasurer Briana Bilbray.

Watkins directed questions from Newsweek to Bilbray, who could not be reached for comment before publication.

The FEC's letter also asks for information on why the contributions weren't reported earlier. Additionally, it asks the campaign for missing information on the occupation of some donors that is required to be reported. FEC filings from Watkins' campaign show "info requested" on many donor receipts.

If the campaign is unable to provide the missing information, it must provide the commission with a detailed description of its "best efforts" to obtain it, according to the letter.

The FEC's letter gives the campaign until May 2 to respond.

"Adequate responses must be received by the Commission on or before the due
date noted above to be taken into consideration in determining whether audit action will be initiated," reads the letter. "Failure to comply with the provisions of the Act may also result in an enforcement action against the committee."

In his initial report, Watkins reported having $15,469 cash on hand after having spent $17,472. The amended report put that figure at $30,299, after having spent $22,926.

The initial report includes a $2,332 expenditure for airfare on Asiana Airlines in December of last year, as well as $212 for a COVID-19 test. Other expenses include payroll taxes and software development.

Earlier in his congressional campaign, Watkins expected to raise over $1 million.

"Mark my words: I am going to raise at least a million dollars and I'm going to win so that the people have a real voice in Washington, D.C.," Watkins told Vice News after announcing his run in October.

Watkins rose to prominence as the administrator of the controversial website 8kun. The message board was home to thousands of "drops" from Q, a mysterious figure with access to high-ranking government clearance. The drops detailed how then-President Donald Trump was waging a behind-the-scenes battle against a cabal of satanic, child-eating pedophiles secretly holding positions of power.

The movement lost steam after Q's claims that Trump would return didn't happen, but the conspiracy remains present in GOP politics.

Watkins was featured in Q: Into the Storm, a six-part HBO documentary series, that suggested he was behind the drops. Watkins denies the claim.