QAnon supporters listed a Philly judge as a speaker at their event. She says she’s not going.
Judge Paula Patrick said she didn't plan on attending the conference and didn't know she was listed as a speaker. But she had earlier appeared as a guest on a podcast with one of the organizers.
A Philadelphia judge running for a seat on the state’s highest court on Thursday disavowed any connection to QAnon, after supporters of the conspiracy movement listed her as a featured speaker at their upcoming gathering in Gettysburg.
Common Pleas Court Judge Paula Patrick said she wasn’t invited to the “Patriots Arise, Awakening the Dead!” event, didn’t plan to attend, and had never heard of it until she was asked about it by reporters on Wednesday. It’s not her first brush with some of the conspiracy theory’s visible supporters.
Patrick, a 53-year-old Republican, is running in the May 18 primary election for Pennsylvania Supreme Court. If she wins the three-candidate race, she’ll run for an open seat on the court in the November general election.
Last month, the longtime Philadelphia judge appeared for an interview on a YouTube and podcast show hosted by the two conservative media personalities organizing the June conference in Gettysburg.
“I’m so happy to have met you through Prophet Mark Taylor,” Patrick told host Francine Fodsick, whom Patrick addressed as “prophetess.”
Taylor, a self-described prophet from Florida and prominent QAnon supporter, wrote a book claiming God told him in 2011 that Donald Trump would be elected president and was later featured in a movie called The Trump Prophecy.
In an interview with The Inquirer’s editorial board on Thursday, Patrick said she hadn’t researched the podcast and simply thought she was speaking on a show aimed at a Christian audience.
“I just did an interview with reference to my candidacy, and that was it. I didn’t know anything else about any conspiracy theories. … I had no idea,” Patrick said.
The event page for the Gettysburg conference advertises VIP tickets for $298 and includes more than a dozen featured speakers, with their photos, names, and titles. State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R., Franklin), a likely candidate for governor next year, is also listed as a speaker — though his spokesperson called that a mistake and said he would not attend. The same page features the slogan “WWG1WGA” — an abbreviation for “where we go one, we go all,” a rallying cry commonly used by QAnon supporters.
The event organizers didn’t respond to a request for comment from The Inquirer.
QAnon supporters believe without evidence that Trump was elected president to defeat a purported cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles in government. The FBI has identified the fringe theory as a potential extremist threat, and federal investigators have linked it to some of the rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Rioters waved flags and had other memorabilia associated with the conspiracy theory.
Patrick’s past interactions with QAnon supporters and advertised participation in the June conference — first disclosed Wednesday by the liberal group Media Matters — underscore how Republican politics has become intertwined with conspiratorial thinking and ideas propagated online by the far right.
Trump repeatedly refused to denounce the conspiracy theory, even as the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly last year to condemn it. And a big QAnon proponent, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R., Ga.), has been raking in cash for her reelection campaign since the House stripped her of committee assignments earlier this year.
Patrick denied any tie to the group and said she was “disturbed” by the suggestion she had one.
“Look, I’m a judge,” she said Thursday. “There’s no way I would link myself to anything that would be questionable like that. And plus, I’m a Black female. I would not be involved in anything that would cause my credibility or character to come into question.”
During the 44-minute podcast interview, Patrick had discussed her background as a civil litigator, her career as a judge, her Christian faith, and election law.
“I’m in one of the most liberal jurisdictions on the planet,” she said on the show. “… I’m a conservative Black woman. So, one thing you know: I’m not afraid.”
Asked this week why she referred to the podcast host as “prophetess,” Patrick told The Inquirer: “Because that’s the name of their group, Up Front in the Prophetic. I knew she had said they were prophets.”
Up Front in the Prophetic’s website is full of references to QAnon and the PizzaGate conspiracy theory that emerged during the 2016 campaign that Hillary Clinton and her associates were running a child sex-trafficking ring out of a pizza shop in Washington.
Patrick told The Inquirer she met Taylor, the self-described prophet, on the phone about five years ago. They’ve spoken on the phone a few times but haven’t met in person, the judge said.
“He actually was trying to help me, because he knows I’m running for Supreme Court,” she said. “He had some connections with some different groups. This was one group, and so he had given them my information.”
Patrick said she wasn’t aware of Taylor’s views on QAnon.
Months after Trump took office in 2017, Taylor claimed that thousands of “elite pedophiles” had already been secretly arrested since Trump’s inauguration and predicted that former President Barack Obama and Clinton would end up behind bars.
Taylor has appeared on Up Front in the Prophetic multiple times and talked about Q, the purported prophet of the QAnon theory whom supporters believe is a top-secret government operative.
Patrick was elected to the bench in 2003 and won a second 10-year term in 2013. Over the last five years, she has presided over civil trials involving personal injury, medical malpractice, mass torts, mortgage foreclosures, and other cases, according to a candidate questionnaire she completed.
Superior Court Judge Maria McLaughlin is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. The winner of November’s election will fill the seat being vacated by retiring Chief Justice Thomas Saylor, a Republican. Democrats hold a 5-2 advantage on the bench.
The Pennsylvania Bar Association gave Patrick its highest possible rating — “highly recommended” — as part of its judicial election vetting process. The group described her as “an experienced jurist who is highly regarded by colleagues and attorneys.”
“She is engaging, energetic, intelligent and passionate about the profession,” the bar association wrote. “Her background and experience indicate she has a broad perspective and wide knowledge of the law.”
Patrick said her campaign would be “more diligent” going forward: “I probably should have investigated more and I was wrong in doing that.”
Mastriano, the state senator, had also previously granted the Up Front in the Prophetic hosts a podcast interview in his office.
But his spokesperson, Josh Herman, said Mastriano “strongly condemns the ‘Q anon’ conspiracy theory” and won’t be attending the event. Mastriano, he said, “never committed to speak at this event but sadly was used to help promote it with his picture on the invite.”