Michael Flynn—a folk hero among QAnon conspiracy theorists who believe a deep state cabal is operating a supposed child sex-trafficking ring—has endorsed a U.S. Senate candidate who years ago publicly accused his sister of lying about molestation by their father even though he had written private letters stating that he believed the abuse had happened. Mike Durant, a leading Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Alabama, spotlighted Flynn’s endorsement of him this Wednesday.
The contradictions between Durant’s public and private statements about his father’s alleged abuse of his sister were reported by the Associated Press in 1994 and highlighted by the Alabama Political Reporter this January—a month before Flynn’s endorsement.
Flynn, a short-lived national security adviser to former President Donald Trump, became a folk hero to activists who promote QAnon conspiracy theories that regularly and baselessly accuse high-ranking Democrats, business leaders, and Hollywood elites of child sex-trafficking and pedophilia. In 2020, adherents of the far-right conspiracy adopted the hashtag #SavetheChildren, claiming to care about saving children from sex trafficking, but anti-trafficking organizations have said that these baseless accusations of pedophilia did more harm than good.
— Mike Durant (@MikeDurantAL) March 16, 2022
In his February endorsement of Durant, Flynn called Durant “a battle tested patriot who puts political correctness aside and country above all else.”
But Durant would appear to be a candidate at odds, at least theoretically, with the QAnon conspiracy theory Flynn has supported. In 1994, Durant said during a TV interview that his sister was trying to “grab headlines” for suing their father for $5 million and accusing him of molesting her from the ages of 2 to 19. During that same interview, he said that his father “isn’t the monster” his sister, Mary Durant, made him out to be. That year, the Associated Press reported that Durant’s attacks on his sister represented an about-face from letters he sent to her in 1991 in which he told her that he believed her and that their father had admitted to abusing her.
“He lowered his head, began to cry and said it was all true,” Mike Durant wrote in one letter provided to the AP by his sister. In another, he wrote, “It all happened. If I could change it I would do anything to make it so.”
In a statement to the Alabama Political Reporter, Durant’s sister, now Mary Ryan, said Durant never made an attempt to make amends after attacking her publicly.
“Everything you’ve said (from the AP stories) is all true,” Mary Ryan told the Alabama Political Reporter. “No one from my family has ever apologized to me for anything.”
The Alabama Political Reporter reported on the contradictions between Durant’s public and private statements this January, a month before Flynn’s endorsement.
Flynn’s endorsement seems at odds with QAnon, but it could be that Flynn doesn’t actually believe the conspiracy theory and has been courting its followers for his own purposes. Lin Wood, another QAnon conspiracy theorist, released a recorded phone call with Flynn this past November in which it appears Flynn calls QAnon “total nonsense.” That doesn’t appear to have cost Flynn many of his QAnon followers, but it did briefly pit pro-Flynn and anti-Flynn factions inside QAnon against each other on right-wing social media.
Along with Durant, Flynn has endorsed Jackson Lahmeyer who is running for U.S. Senate in Oklahoma. Lahmeyer, who also courted QAnon adherents, discovered the downside of the conspiracy theory when he became the target of their wrath after he posted a photo of his daughter wearing red shoes and they proceeded to baselessly accuse him of pedophilia.