A senior adviser at the Department of Housing and Urban Development spread a false conspiracy theory that claimed Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign chairman took part in a Satanic ritual, a CNN KFile review of his tweets show.
John Gibbs is a former conservative commentator who initially joined the HUD as the director for Strong Cities and Strong Communities, a program aimed at spurring economic development at the local level.
In August of 2017, Gibbs, a political appointee, transitioned to the role of senior adviser, working in the office of the assistant secretary for community planning and development. In his current role, Gibbs is tasked with developing and implementing efforts aimed at increasing economic development programs for low-income people.
On Twitter, Gibbs made multiple references to a conspiracy theory started by far-right bloggers claiming Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta took part in a Satanic ritual. Tweets from Gibbs, archived on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, show him promoting the conspiracy four times between October 31 and November 5 of 2016, using the hashtag #SpiritCooking. The hashtag originated from an email of Podesta’s released by WikiLeaks, which members of the far-right claimed, without evidence, that Podesta was involved in a Satanic ritual that involved bodily fluids.
The claim has repeatedly been debunked.
A spokesman for the department declined to comment, saying the agency doesn’t weigh in on comments not made as a public official. Gibbs did not return a request for comment.
Gibbs’ Twitter page is now set to private, which means the general public can’t see his full history of tweets. Tweets archived on the Wayback Machine only offer a small window into his Twitter activity.
When radio host Wayne Dupree, who is known for spreading a conspiracy theory that the Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax, tweeted that Clinton was losing black voters’ support because her campaign manager took part in “Satanic #SpiritCooking,” Gibbs quote tweeted him, writing, “True, true, and true. #Trump #SpiritCooking #BlackLivesMatter.”
In another tweet, Gibbs targeted artist Marina Abramovic, whom bloggers claimed was part of the conspiracy, writing, “Marina Abramovic, woman at the center of #SpiritCooking scandal, has a Twitter handle that ends in 666. You can’t make this stuff up.”
In tweets from early 2016, Gibbs also blasted “cucks,” a derogatory term used by the alt-right to insult establishment conservatives, and derided the Democratic Party for accepting Islam.
When far-right commentator Milo Yiannopoulos was facing backlash for comments he made endorsing sex between young boys and older men, Gibbs called the comment “indefensible,” but added the controversy might “tame his ego a bit, and helps focus his outrageousness on leftists & cucks, not the good guys.”
In another tweet from October 2016, Gibbs also defended Ricky Vaughn, an alt-right figure who often tweeted anti-Semitic sentiments, when Twitter banned Vaughn, an anonymous user, from the platform.
“#Twitter down big today because they banned Ricky? #FreeRicky,” he wrote.
In a February 2016 tweet, Gibbs said the Democratic Party had become the party of “Islam, gender-bending, anti-police” and the party of people who accuse others of racism.