Ben Swann, a former television reporter, brought his controversial 'truth' to Minneapolis last week attracting between 150 and 200 attendees, according to an organizer, including a few candidates.
Swann has also attracted controversy for breathing life into conspiracies 'rethinking' the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, questioning the 'official narrative' of lone shooters in recent mass shootings and an alternative explanation for the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner, attended part of the event and Republican congressional candidate and former state representative Phil Krinkie's campaign had a table as well.
"We think that he kind of tells the stories that people are afraid to talk about," said Mark Wegscheid, chair of Liberty Minnesota, a political action committee. Wegscheid said that he asked Swann about his work on 'rethinking' the Sept. 11 attacks, which he also addressed from the stage. Swann told him that he is not a 'not a truther but I search for the truth.'
Both Jeff Johnson and Phil Krinkie told the Star Tribune that they were interested in having a presence at an event where potential Republican voters gathered.
"I didn't see the program," Johnson said Tuesday morning. He said he personally does not espouse the conspiracy theories that Swann has aired. "I don't really know anything about the guy."
Krinkie said: "We weren't there to quote unquote associate with Ben Swann. We were there to hand out information to people who were there." Krinkie is running for the seat U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann will leave empty after this term.
Republican David Gerson, who is challenging GOP U.S. Rep. John Kline, also helped sponsor the event and his name appears on the promotional materials.
The Alliance for a Better Minnesota, which campaigns against Republicans, on Tuesday afternoon bashed Johnson for his attendance.
"Minnesotans deserve an apology and an explanation from this man who wants to lead our state," said Alliance executive director Carrie Lucking.