Shannon Watts, founder of anti-gun rights group Moms Demand Action, shared a photo last week in an attempt to hurt the campaign of Nick Frietas, a Republican running for congress in Virginia.
The Washington Free Beacon reported that Watts posted a tweet with the photo on Thursday, but has since deleted the image after it was proven to be a fake.
“Freitas, an Army veteran, is running to unseat freshman representative Abigail Spanberger (D., Va.), who is backed by prominent gun-control groups, including Moms Demand Action. Watts, who founded the group in 2012, falsely accused Freitas of promoting a t-shirt that bears the Moms Demand Action logo, but features stick figures engaged in various acts of sexual congress and depravity. The Thursday tweet, which Watts has since deleted, included a fundraising plea in support of Spanberger,” the Free Beacon reported.
Freitas called out Watts, saying she engaged in the “politics of slander” to help her preferred candidate.
“Not only is this ‘tweet’ verifiably fake, but she used it to slander my wife,” Freitas tweeted in response. “If they can’t win on issues, they engage in the politics of slander + personal destruction.” He went on to ask Spanberger if she stood behind the “lies your allies @MomsDemand are spreading to raise money for you.”
The T-Shirt Watts alleged Freitas wore in the photo does exist, but it was designed in April 2019, while the photo shared by Watts was allegedly taken on August 30, 2016, the Free Beacon reported. The shirt was created by Jill McDaniel, who founded the Second Amendment rights group Mom-At-Arms.
“According to founder Jill McDaniel, the group looked to ‘troll’ Watts by sharing photos of the shirts paired with messages of support toward Moms Demand Action. The tactic proved successful—both Watts and Democratic Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto liked and retweeted posts featuring the shirt in August and November 2019, respectively,” the Free Beacon reported.
The outlet further reported that in “December 2019, Moms Demand Action sent Mom-At-Arms’s t-shirt vendor a cease and desist letter for trademark infringement,” but “McDaniel said her group did not make the shirt available for purchase to the public and donated all profits made from the shirt, a total of $10.49, to the Virginia Citizens Defense League.”
Freitas, a former Green Beret and current Virginia delegate, is looking to unseat Spanberger, who defeated Rep. Dave Brat in 2018, becoming the first Democrat to hold the seat since 1971.
“Her seat is now a top target for Republicans looking to gain control of the House. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report changed its rating of the race from ‘lean Democratic’ to ‘toss-up’ in February, citing Freitas’s candidacy and Spanberger’s vote to impeach President Donald Trump,” the Free Beacon reported.
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