A Utah Republican candidate was exposed for operating a Twitter account attacking women and LGBTQ people and spreading coronavirus conspiracy theories.
Trevor Lee, who defeated longtime Rep. Steve Handy in the Utah House District 16 primary, admitted to operating the since-deleted @ballinlee account using the screen name “Truth seeker,” which made false and offensive claims about LGBTQ people, after the Salt Lake City Tribune discovered his involvement and asked him for comment.
“The world we live in now,” Lee said about disabling the account. “I can say something that I may not think is controversial, but the world is changing to a point where it thinks it is.”
Lee used the account to attack Republican Gov. Spencer Cox “spineless” for defending transgender girls in sports and calling Brigham Young University was a “progressive cesspool” that “needs to be cleansed,” and he frequently used homophobic and transphobic slurs — and fellow Republicans called him out after the revelation.
“Presenting one face publicly while posting demeaning comments behind a hidden Twitter account is disrespectful to the people and the electoral process,” said Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson (R-Kaysville). “I am deeply disappointed that a candidate for the Utah House of Representatives did not have this same commitment to transparency.”
House majority leader Mike Schultz (R-Hooper) said it was inappropriate for lawmakers and candidates to hide behind anonymous online personas, making a reference to Sen. Mitt Romney’s former anonymous Twitter account.
“These private, anonymous tweets in no way reflect the values of the House of Representatives or the majority caucus,” Schultz said. “We collectively shake our heads at these types of ‘Pierre DeLecto-type’ Twitter accounts, meant to conceal a person’s identity and convey statements or observations that the author would not want to openly stand by.”
Lee previously apologized for referring to transgender people as “trannies” during a podcast earlier this year, and insisted he wasn’t aware the term was considered a slur.
“It’s a word that I’ve used in pop culture [and] that I’ve used my whole life – and that’s not an excuse – but I know it’s something now that others may feel strongly about, so I’ve erased it from my vocabulary,” Lee said at the time. “It’s gone.”