Idaho state flag(l), Votes on board(r)

rarrarorro/Shutterstock Jordan Sather/Truth (Licensed)

‘Check the hard drives’: Vigilante conspiracy theorists launch crusade against state reps who voted against death penalty for child abuse

Democrats are facing baselessy accusations.


Tricia Crimmins


Posted on Feb 14, 2024   Updated on Feb 14, 2024, 12:31 pm CST

The Idaho State House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow for convicted child sex abusers to receive the death penalty.

But 11 state representatives who voted against the bill are being targeted by conspiracy theorists and QAnon believers for their vote—dubbed sex offenders and secret pedophile protectors.

Idaho Democrats say they voted against the bill because they believe it is unconstitutional—not because they condone child sex abuse.

House Bill 515, also known as the “lewd contact with a minor” bill proposes that perpetrators who committed sex crimes against children under 12 years old shall be “punished by death or by imprisonment for life.”

To punish perpetrators by death, though, prosecuting attorneys must submit a “notice of intent to seek” the penalty. It passed 57-11; a majority of Republicans voted for it, and a majority of Democrats against.

When explaining his vote against the bill, Rep. John L. Gannon (D) said it was unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court decided in Coker v. Georgia (1977) that the death penalty is a “grossly disproportionate” punishment for rape because the crime doesn’t involve killing another person. The Court also decided in Kennedy v. Louisiana (2008) that the rape of a child cannot incur the death penalty, as it would be “cruel and unusual punishment.”

“We need to go after the people who are committing lewd crimes and spend the money there,” local outlet KIVTV reported Gannon said. “Not spend it on ideology and on something that isn’t going to work.”

Despite Democrats’ stated reasoning, they are now being accused of possessing child pornography on social media.

In recent years, the right has developed a newfound obsession with a supposed child abuse running rampant nationwide, spurred by belief in both the QAnon conspiracy theory and the misguided grooming panic directed at the LGBTQ community.

“Yesterday, Idaho voted to give pedos the death penalty,” conservative commentator Jordan Sather posted on Truth Social, alongside a photo of the vote count. “Check the hard drives of the 11 Nays.”

That same image also circulated on X and was posted by conservatives, who speculated about the Democrats who voted against the bill.

“Check the hard drives of everybody that voted nay immediately,” conservative commentator Amiri King tweeted.

“What’s wrong with the 11 pedos?” @jasonkinder tweeted.

“Seems like the 11 Nays are going to begin sweating now,” @tommassman said.

A similar law passed in Florida last year, which expanded the death penalty to be used against those who are convicted of sex crimes against children. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has said that he believes that should the Florida law be challenged in the Supreme Court, it will be upheld.

The Idaho chapter of MassResistance, a “pro-family activism” group, saw the Idaho House’s decision as a beacon of hope.

“There’s some hope for Idaho, after all,” Idaho MassResistance posted on X. “Will Idaho become the Florida of the Rocky Mountains?”

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*First Published: Feb 14, 2024, 12:30 pm CST