Who is the Florida man trying to defeat Liz Cheney?
A Florida resident who has become an odd player in the campaign to replace Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney says controversial statements he made in the past, like those related to the QAnon conspiracy theory, were part of an effort to discredit a liberal media that was poised against him.
In an interview with WyoFile, Karl “K.W.” Miller, who recently moderated a candidate forum in Casper featuring all but two participants in the 2022 Republican primary for Congress, downplayed his past statements seemingly showing support for the conspiracy theory. Miller said his social media activity during his independent 2020 bid for U.S. Congress in the Sunshine State (in which he received 2 percent of the vote) was an effort to demonstrate bias by social media giants like Twitter and Facebook.
David Iverson, one of the organizers of the event and host of the conservative podcast Cowboy State Politics, did not respond to a request for comment on Miller’s involvement.
A resident of Palm Beach, Miller has recently gotten involved in Wyoming’s 2022 Wyoming’s Republican primary race for Cheney’s seat through his America First Political Committee. The group is “mobilizing to remove liberals and socialist [sic] from political office in 2022,” according to its website. Miller comes to Wyoming with a checkered past in politics that includes criminal charges and social media posts promoting bizarre conspiracy theories.
Now, some are raising questions about Miller’s involvement in Wyoming’s race and, particularly, how he came to moderate a candidate forum more than 2,000 miles from his home a stone’s throw from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago.
The America First Political Committee is an unregistered organization with the Federal Elections Committee with a name similar to Trump’s “America First PAC.” It raises no money, but works to help embolden candidates in their campaigns against candidates who oppose Trump.
After Cheney’s vote to impeach Trump following the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol, Miller said he reached out to political activists on the ground in Wyoming in an effort to assist in this year’s race, and began work on organizing a congressional candidate forum to narrow the field.
Miller has his own history as a candidate; he ran for Florida’s 18th Congressional District. He also has a past marred by controversies and criminal charges.
Miller was arrested for assault in January stemming from an incident at a 2020 early voting event. Miller said he got into an altercation with a man who removed his mask and spit on a female attendee.
On July 4 of last year, Miller tweeted that pop musician Beyoncé is “not even African American,” writing she faked her ethnicity for exposure and to assist “the Soros Deep State agenda for the Black Lives Matter movement.” He added hashtags to the tweet alluding to the QAnon conspiracy theory. He has also been called out for allegedly dubious business dealings in Africa and other offensive social media posts.
Miller said the tweets, which sparked a firestorm of media attention in South Florida, were part of a ruse crafted by his campaign team to expose a media apparatus out to get him from the start.
“I have no knowledge of [QAnon], no affiliation,” Miller said. “That is part of the leftist hit pieces they write, they always want to go after anybody who’s a hardcore conservative or anybody as a leader in the party. They try to tag you as a QAnon conspiracy theorist.”
He then referred to a news release from his 2020 campaign saying an outside media team he hired for his campaign drafted the tweets in an attempt to flush out “bad actors” in the entertainment and media industry. Miller said he believed the social media giants were censoring his campaign on social media after he accused numerous industry players of engaging in sex trafficking and pedophilia.
“They took it hook line and sinker and ran with it,” he said of the campaign ploy. “We just flushed them out.”
America First Political Committee has been working to consolidate support for conservative candidates in numerous Congressional races around the country, Miller said. These efforts are primarily focused against incumbents like Cheney, who Miller does not believe sufficiently back Trump’s “America First” movement.
But Miller has recently been attacked by critics as a carpetbagger from out-of-state looking to unduly influence Wyoming’s elections.
After commenters, including candidate and current Wyoming Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, battered him on social media following the forum, Miller opened a public feud with Bouchard. He later announced his support for Casper Republican Rep. Chuck Gray, another candidate in the race.
“Chuck Gray impressed me with his legislative record, knowledge and vision,” Miller wrote in a message after the forum. “He is clearly the top Congressional Candidate in the Wyoming Primary Race.”
Several high-profile figures in conservative politics, including Wyoming GOP chairman Frank Eathorne, attended the Casper forum. Bouchard declined to participate, and expressed opposition to Miller’s involvement through his surrogates on social media. Cheney representatives also highlighted Miller’s involvement in the forum, sending an email arguing Cheney is fighting for the “future of the GOP while her primary opponents traffic in conspiracy theories,” citing numerous unfounded claims of election fraud candidates perpetuated during the forum.
These campaigns are not the only opponents to Miller’s involvement in Wyoming. In a Facebook post, Parker Jackson, a former staffer for one-time gubernatorial candidate Foster Friess, wrote Miller “has a history of unhinged comments and erratic and even violent behavior,” and accused him of disparaging Wyoming voters.
“This is the exact same attitude we get from another politician from the East Coast that Wyoming conservatives are trying to get rid of,” he wrote. “It has no place in our state, nor do those who espouse it.” Jackson declined further comment.
Miller defends his involvement.
“Liz Cheney is 100-percent backed, funded and controlled by ‘out of Wyoming’ groups and money,” he wrote in a statement blasted to numerous conservative Facebook pages. “Wyoming’s Congressional Seat is already controlled by ‘outsiders’. So I am extremely surprised that certain members in this group act like they are offended by the inference that outsiders are involved in Wyoming.”
He has no intention of retreating from the effort, he said. He will continue working with candidates on the ground to help galvanize voter support against Cheney, and is planning a later debate aimed at consolidating the field around a single candidate.
“We cannot replace Liz Cheney effectively with seven candidates,” he said, referring to the current field of challengers.
WyoFile is an independent nonprofit news organization focused on Wyoming people, places and policy.