The president of the Long Beach City College board of trustees recently claimed one of his fellow board members “traffics in QAnon conspiracies and misinformation,” but then backtracked when he was asked to provide examples to support his accusation.

Board President Uduak-Joe Ntuk made the allegation against Trustee Virginia Baxter when the Long Beach Post asked him to weigh in on a statement from Baxter’s opponent in the Nov. 8 election. Her challenger, Juan Cepeda-Rizo, said he’s running to unseat Baxter in part because the LBCC board had become dysfunctional, with embarrassing arguments among trustees spilling into public and into the court system.

Ntuk said that assertion was correct, at least when it comes to Baxter: “Virginia Baxter traffics in QAnon conspiracies and misinformation which has contributed to disfunction on the board,” Ntuk wrote in an email to the Long Beach Post.

When asked for specifics, Ntuk wrote: “In my opinion, on multiple occasions Virgina Baxter has made comments about QAnon conspiracies, including replacement theory, vaccine skepticism, and our ethic studies/critical race theory courses are bad for LBCC students.”

But when asked to provide examples, Ntuk softened his accusation, saying Baxter, “has not explicitly declared to me that she is a member of QAnon. I have heard her say at meetings on multiple occasions about various conspiracy theories that overlap with QAnon and other conservative rhetoric. She made many false, baseless, and false conspiracies comments that undermines the work of the board to serve our students and community.”

When asked about Ntuk’s accusation, Baxter said she hadn’t ever heard of QAnon, which is a shadowy and baseless political conspiracy belief that former President Donald Trump is at war with a group of global child sex traffickers that includes prominent Democrats.

Baxter also said she voted for the college’s vaccine mandate, supports ethnic studies courses for students and did not know what replacement theory was. When told that replacement theory is the idea that White people are being intentionally replaced with immigrants to dilute their political power, Baxter called the idea “weird” and said she does not believe it’s happening.

“I’m shocked and appalled that anyone would say such a ridiculous thing,” Baxter said about Ntuk’s email. “It’s so ridiculously incorrect. I don’t know how to respond to that without sounding like the guy’s nuts, because he’s not.”

Ntuk, who joined the LBCC board in 2018 and is running unopposed this year, also holds a powerful government position as supervisor of the California Geologic Energy Management Division, which regulates oil and natural gas wells across the state. He was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2019.

Baxter was first elected to the LBCC board in 2014 and has worked with the college in some capacity for five decades. She started teaching U.S. history at LBCC in 1970 and ran the LBCC Foundation for several years beginning in the late 1980s.

Ntuk and Baxter are not running against each other in this year’s election, but they have come down on opposite sides in recent high-profile disagreements on the board.

Most recently, Baxter disagreed with the Ntuk and the board majority who voted to fire part-time faculty member Kashara Moore for allegedly elbowing a student after a discussion about how to pronounce her name during the college’s graduation ceremony in June. Moore’s firing drew widespread attention and sparked condemnation among faculty members, who accused the board of acting on a false or overblown accusation.

In his emails, Ntuk also accused Baxter of believing “unsubstantiated racist claims” that LBCC board member Herlinda Chico “conspired with the student who was struck by Dr. Moore, by coaching and providing her with an attorney because they both are Latinas.”

Chico is shown on video intervening when the alleged elbowing happens on the graduation stage.

Baxter also split from the board majority when she submitted a sworn statement in court that undermined their case against a fellow trustee whom they claimed refused to recuse herself from closed-session agenda items where she had a conflict of interest.

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Anthony Pignataro is an investigative reporter and editor for the Long Beach Post. He has close to three decades of experience in journalism leading numerous investigations and long-form journalism projects for the OC Weekly and other publications. He joined the Post in May 2021.