Park City candidate’s social media history shows interest in far-right ideology, conspiracy theories
Chadwick Fairbanks III in the fall of 2016 was mounting a fringe campaign for the 1st Congressional District seat held by Rep. Rob Bishop, the Republican incumbent who had already enjoyed a string of lopsided election victories since 2002.
It seemed it would be a difficult political season for Fairbanks, an unaffiliated candidate at the time who lacked name recognition and did not appear to have the campaign apparatus to compete in a district that stretches across a large swath of northern Utah. The incumbent had long ago fortified his position in the highly conservative district, and his reelection was expected. Peter Clemens, a Democrat, was on the ballot, as was Libertarian Craig Bowden.
As the others stumped on traditional congressional campaign issues like the economy and health care, Fairbanks on some days instead seemed to be especially focused on the top of the ticket — the contest between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton for the White House. Online postings by Fairbanks show someone who exhibited disdain toward the Democratic nominee and was intrigued by far-right ideology and conspiracy theories.
On Oct. 26, 2016, during the crucial final two weeks of the campaign, Fairbanks made a pledge on his Twitter account, @Chadwick4Utah, describing one of his intentions should he claim an unlikely victory on Election Day.
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“If elected to the next Congress on NOV 8… I will personally Citizen’s Arrest @HillaryClinton JAN 3,” Fairbanks, who is currently competing for a seat on the Park City Council, said in a reply to a tweet by the actor James Woods.
As the election of 2016 entered the final days, Fairbanks continued the politically charged online postings. On Nov. 2, he responded to a Twitter user who posed the question: “What kind of American would send a brazen serial felon sociopathic liar under FBI investigation to the White House?” The response by Fairbanks read: “A conquered country that is irreparable would… we may be forced to thin the herd again… it’s been over 150 years since last #CivilWar”
The election was over a week later. Fairbanks was not a factor in the 1st Congressional District, garnering fewer than 200 votes throughout Summit County and just 1.7 percent of the district-wide tally. Trump, though, had won the White House.
The mayor’s office in New York City on Nov. 13 published a statement on Twitter in response to a posting about a spray-painted swastika on a street in a section of Brooklyn with a vibrant Jewish population. The mayor’s office said in its posting, in part, “acts of violence in our beautifully diverse city will not be tolerated.”
Fairbanks outlined a theory in response to the mayor’s office posting.
“Probably being done by Democratic Jews for we all know – its basic criminal psychology,” he said in his tweet.
The Twitter postings that fall also contended that a Trump loss on Election Day would be the result of vote tampering by the Department of Homeland Security, described John Kerry, the secretary of state at the time, as a “disgrace to #humanity” and told Paul Ryan, the Republican speaker of the House, “You need to resign and leave the country – you know why.”
Fairbanks is attempting to capture a City Council seat with what would be an unorthodox route to the Marsac Building. He has not been visibly active in municipal issues and has little background in Park City, having moved to the community approximately two years ago. He is a consultant working in the transportation and auto industries and an entrepreneur. Fairbanks, an Old Town resident, has unsuccessfully competed to become the chair of the Utah Republican Party in addition to the congressional bid in 2016 as an unaffiliated candidate and a campaign for Congress in 2018 as a Republican, when he failed to advance out of the state GOP convention.
A biography posted on his website describes Fairbanks as someone who “firmly believes in the core tenets and principles of the United States Constitution.” The biography says “both the Republican and Democratic National Committees have become too polarized and out of touch with everyday Americans.” It also says Fairbanks is registered as a Republican “but only because that’s the most pragmatic way to get things done in Utah.”
His GOP ties, though, did not prevent him from challenging Republicans during the fall of 2016, as the party was working to recapture the White House from the Democrats. Fairbanks on Sept. 24 and Sept. 25, 2016, engaged in an online back-and-forth with a Twitter user called @Dark_Maturus, basing the statements on a posting from the Clinton Foundation. The thread moved toward Hillary Clinton’s time as the secretary of state and, eventually, to the Middle East and the Bush political family, a Republican standard-bearer.
“140 char. isnt enough 2 explain why House of Saud House of Windsor & entire Bush family should hang 4 their war crimes,” Fairbanks tweeted.
The opinions of Fairbanks expressed online during the campaign in 2016 seem to conflict with the political leanings of many Park City voters. Park City has long been a Democratic outpost in a heavily Republican state, a result of an influential labor presence during the silver-mining days followed by the arrival in large numbers of people from left-leaning places like California and New York during the skiing era. Clinton won Summit County in 2016 with 50.9 percent of the vote, topping Trump by more than 15 percentage points.
Park City voters in an August primary election will drop one candidate from a field of seven as the ballot is set for Election Day in November, when three seats will be decided. There has been limited politicking since the early June window when candidates were required to file campaign paperwork at City Hall.
Fairbanks in an interview at the outset of the campaign discussed a platform for the municipal contest that involved housing, traffic and transportation. He notably said in the interview Park City Mountain Resort owner Vail Resorts should play a large role in housing foreign workers who arrive for the ski season. He explained City Hall could require the firm to house the workers and questioned whether City Hall or Vail Resorts “runs the city.”
The Park City campaign is expected to center on issues like growth, the closely related topics of housing and affordability, the local economy and transportation rather than those Fairbanks pressed online during the congressional campaign. Park City’s elected offices are nonpartisan, something that could temper the politics of an ideologue like Fairbanks.
Fairbanks sometime in June created another Twitter account, @PCforChadwick, this one for the City Council campaign. He had not posted a message on the account by midday Friday.
He did not provide a written statement regarding the opinions expressed on Twitter in response to a request from The Park Record.
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Park City leaders on Thursday released a two-page statement addressing the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and describing that “bias and systemic racism exists in our community.”