An official spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee pushed a conspiracy theory that Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah) decided not to run for reelection in 2018 because he is being blackmailed by Russia.
Adrienne Watson is the acting deputy communications director at the DNC, and a former spokesperson for David Brock's Correct the Record super PAC and Hillary Clinton's failed presidential campaign.
After Chaffetz announced he would not seek reelection in 2018, Watson directed her Twitter followers to a tweet from Louise Mensch that said her "sources" told her there was compromising material, or "kompromat," on the Utah congressman.
Chaffetz not seeking re-election will raise more questions about this 👇🏼 https://t.co/WHpvtiWAxK
— Adrienne Watson (@Adrienne_DNC) April 19, 2017
Watson was retweeted by numerous Democratic operatives, including fellow DNC communications staffer Joel Kasnetz, several staffers of Brock's American Bridge super PAC, and a press staffer for Rep. Brendan Boyle (D., Pa.).
Mensch has been pushing conspiracy theories about Republican collusion with Russia for months, including the notion that Chaffetz, who she has branded a "traitor," had been flipped by Russia.
Chaffetz said on Wednesday morning he was confident he would have been "reelected by large margins," but that he "made a personal decision to return to the private sector." His decision to make the Wednesday announcement, he says, was to give prospective candidates in Utah "time to lay the groundwork for a successful run."
Some have speculated that Chaffetz is preparing to run for governor in Utah in 2020.
Watson's former boss, Hillary Clinton, blamed the Democrats' November defeat on the "epidemic of malicious fake news" on social media.