Screenshot via YouTube
The woman front and center in a Republican Governors Association ad attacking Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs has ties to QAnon-related events and has spread conspiracy theories about COVID-19.
The ad, titled “Traci,” features a San Tan Valley woman named Traci Hansen who in the ad calls herself an “advocate for human trafficking victims” and says that human traffickers are coming across the border into Arizona.
But Hansen’s advocacy work in the human trafficking arena appears limited. She has no ties to legitimate groups that combat human trafficking. But she did participate in a QAnon-adjacent march on the Arizona Capitol in July 2020.
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“Having 6 daughters, I am passionate about children, especially little girls. But being a mother of six also means that I am not always able to be as physically involved as I would like,” Hansen said in a written statement to the Arizona Mirror that was sent through the RGA. “One day my life will allow me to fulfill the dreams I have to physically help victims of human trafficking to a larger capacity, but right now speaking up and using my voice absolutely makes me an advocate.”
Gov. Doug Ducey is the co-chair of the RGA.
The RGA and Hansen did not respond to additional requests for clarification on why they chose Hansen for the ad or why they did not cite human trafficking groups in their criticism of Hobbs.
QAnon and election fraud
When the Mirror asked Hansen about her experience as an advocate, she responded through the RGA and pointed to a march that she participated in that happened at the Arizona state Capitol to “raise awareness about the truth of human trafficking happening right here in Phoenix.”
That march was organized by local conspiracy theorist Adel Belgaied, who organized several “Save the Children” events. Belgaied, who Hansen specifically mentioned in her email to the Mirror, was also a Stop the Steal organizer.
Belgaied was a frequent presence at protests at the Maricopa County Elections Department often spreading mistruths about the election. His other priority was to “Save the Children,” a mantra that helped mainstream many QAnon beliefs.
Hansen cited creating t-shirts to raise money for organizations as one of the ways she advocated for victims of human trafficking.
One of the organizations that she said received the funds was Operation Underground Railroad. The group has a checkered past and itself embraced QAnon when the #SaveTheChildren hashtag began gaining popularity. The group was found to be fabricating statistics and has been under criminal investigation related to alleged investigations that never took place.
Hansen said she also has helped raise $3000 for the Streetlight Foundation and assembled kits for law enforcement to give to victims of human or sex trafficking. The only public evidence the Mirror could find of Hansen’s work were two Facebook posts. One was from CeCe’s Hope Center thanking Hansen for an event to assemble kits for victims. The other was a post by Hansen advertising “Save the Children” t-shirts.
“The few fundraisers and events I put together were amazing and beneficial to victims and survivors, but I’ve also been able to speak and educate a lot of people and spread awareness on this matter,” Hansen said to the Mirror in her statement. “Advocating isn’t always ‘how much money do you donate’ or ‘what physical actions do you take.’ It comes in different capacities and the main focus should be on the victims and how we can fight human trafficking. Not focusing on the capacity at which someone advocates.”
According to a federally funded report, the vast majority of human trafficking victims come from local sources. Oftentimes, local gangs are involved in the coercion of young teens in high schools. Nationwide, QAnon is causing issues for real world anti-sex trafficking efforts and has complicated education on those issues for researchers when it gets tangled up within the depths of QAnon, which posits there is a global ring trafficking children for sex and demonic rituals that is controlled by a sinister cabal of elites.
Hansen has also spread conspiracy theories online about COVID-19. A post found by the Mirror found that Hansen shared the misinformation film “Plandemic,” one of the first viral coronavirus conspiracy theories, during the early days of the pandemic.
“Youtube (sic) keeps removing it but here is one that works,” Hansen wrote in the post. “Like they say, it’s time to wake up and be mad we’re losing our freedoms!”
The film was widely debunked and criticized for making countless unsubstantiated claims, including that the virus is “activated” by face masks. Hansen defended the film in comments on the post vigorously also claiming there was a “hidden agenda” behind the virus.
“The hidden agenda is a world government. For vaccine identification. For completely control of your life and mine,” Hansen wrote in one comment. She went on to claim that those speaking the “truth” are “mysteriously ‘committing suicide’ days later.”
Hansen also endorsed the anti-government sentiments of a friend who commented on the video that they may have to go “Captain Moroni” on the government.
Captain Moroni is a military commander in the Book of Mormon who who became angry at the government over its “indifference concerning the freedom of [its] country” and killed dissenters who did not support his view of freedom and liberty. Other notable anti-government extremists have quoted and used Captain Moroni as a figure during conflicts with the United States Government, including on Jan. 6.
“Right?” Hansen said to her friend asking about Moroni, adding, “Either way, we know how this ends. The truth and good will prevail. But it’s going to get ugly first. We’re just building up to all of that.”
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