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Eric Hananoki

Author ››› Eric Hananoki
  • GOP House candidate Diane Harkey touts endorsement from bigoted group that promotes white nationalist propaganda

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    UPDATE: After the publication of this post, Diane Harkey removed the San Diegans for Secure Borders' endorsement from her website.

    Republican congressional candidate Diane Harkey touts an endorsement on her website from San Diegans for Secure Borders (SDSB), an anti-immigrant group that promotes white nationalist propaganda and attacks Latino and Muslim immigrants as foreign invaders.

    Harkey, who is the chairwoman of the State Board of Equalization in California, is running to replace retiring Republican Rep. Darrell Issa. President Donald Trump endorsed Harkey in August.

    Anti-immigrant writer Jeff Schwilk heads SDSB. He previously led the San Diego Minutemen, which, according to a 2007 Southern Poverty Law Center report, physically intimidated migrants and called them racist slurs. In 2009, a jury ordered Schwilk to pay $135,000 for defaming an Asian-American immigration activist with racist and derogatory remarks; Schwilk reportedly said of the activist, among other comments: "She is Korean. She looks anorexic, and she dresses and looks like a slut."

    San Diegans for Secure Borders also regularly traffics in bigotry. A Media Matters review of its Facebook page found that the Harkey-backing group:

    • posted anti-immigrant propaganda from VDare, a leading white nationalist website, in at least 14 instances. The SDSB-linked pieces include white nationalist propaganda and a piece written by an author who has described himself as a "mild and tolerant" "racist”;
    • attacked undocumented Latino immigrants as foreign invaders and claimed Mexico wants "to control [California] again through mass occupation, and they are. Latinos (mostly Mexicans) are now the dominant 'race' in California”; and
    • claimed that there's a Muslim "invasion" in California and Muslim candidates could bring "Sharia Law in our Congress."

    SDSB heavily promotes VDare, a notorious white nationalist publication

    VDare is a white nationalist site run by Peter Brimelow that’s dedicated to smearing immigrants. It has published numerous prominent racists, including anti-Semite Kevin MacDonald, white nationalist Jared Taylor, and Charlottesville, VA, white nationalist rally leader Jason Kessler.

    White House economics adviser Larry Kudlow recently had to distance himself from Brimelow after The Washington Post reported that the VDare head attended “a birthday bash for Kudlow, one day after a White House speechwriter was dismissed in the wake of revelations that he had spoken alongside Brimelow on a 2016 panel.”

    SDSB’s Facebook page has promoted content from VDare on at least 14 occasions (1/7/13; 2/25/13; 2/26/13; 3/23/13; 6/13/15; 11/21/15; 5/14/16; 5/26/16; 2/14/17; 2/27/17; 5/22/17; 11/20/17; 11/27/17; 8/13/18).

    VDare itself has promoted SDSB’s efforts, writing in March 2013: “There's a new coalition in California, fighting for immigration enforcement and against amnesty. It's called the ‘San Diegans for Secure Borders Coalition.’ … You might check the coalition out, especially if you reside in the San Diego area.” SDSB responded by writing: “Nice little plug from VDARE. And we're just getting started.”

    The SDSB-promoted VDare articles unsurprisingly feature white nationalist tropes. For instance:

    • VDare writer Allan Wall wrote in a November 18, 2017, piece that Democratic Senate candidate and state Sen. Kevin de León is “quite likely an anchor baby. His mother was definitely illegal and probably his father as well. … If Kevin de León goes to the Senate, he will bring his California-style illegal alien Reconquista agenda there.” He added regarding immigration: “There is no compromise on these basic issues. Either we fight to protect American sovereignty -- or we will be replaced.”
    • Wall claimed in an August 12 piece that “Mexicans meddle culturally, politically, diplomatically and demographically. They constantly work to win or maintain the loyalty of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in the United States.”
    • John Derbyshire, a self-described “mild and tolerant” “racist” who was fired from National Review after he said that he advised his children to avoid Black people, complained about Haitians living in the United States on temporary protected status (TPS) in a November 25, 2017, piece. He wrote that Haiti, after its 2010 earthquake, is “still a godforsaken slum. That's a consequence of its very low levels of human capital, though; and that's not the fault of Americans, or of anyone other than Mother Nature. Why are we supposed to pay for other countries' godforsakenness?” He added of the prospect of Haitians becoming American citizens: “Note, ominously, that those 60,000 Haitian recipients of TPS have, during their eight years in our country, brought forth around 30,000 children -- all of them, thanks to our insane policy of birthright citizenship, U.S. citizens.”

    SDSB portrays undocumented immigration as a "hostile invasion from Mexico"

    SDSB has repeatedly attacked undocumented immigrants from Mexico as foreign invaders. Here are several examples:

    • SDSB wrote on August 10, 2013, regarding a story headlined, "Judicial Watch Goes to Court Monday to End Los Angeles Illegal Immigration Sanctuary Policy": "Good Americans are still fighting the hostile invasion from Mexico."
    • SDSB wrote on May 14, 2016: “Mexican Government in a full panic over impending Trump presidency! They know Trump is dead serious about stopping the invasion of criminals and unwanted peasants from Mexico!”
    • SDSB wrote on July 25, 2017: “NCLR (La Raza) changes its name, but is still a racist Mexican front group and anti-American, anti-white hate group. Thank God their Reconquista is dying. Send that Mexican hate back to Mexico where it belongs!"
    • SDSB wrote on September 21, 2017: “Illegal immigration is more than just jobs; its (sic) about foreign occupation of our country by millions of Mexican citizens and loyalists. Wake up, America, we are at war!”
    • SDSB wrote on December 19, 2017, about a report that “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will no longer have a desk at the Monterey County Jail”: “Here we go! Mexican Reconquista on steroids in Mexifornia now. Adios Golden State.”

    Schwilk has attacked Democratic politician Kevin de León as a “lawless illegal alien powerful politician” who is a “dangerous foreign agent.” The group also called de León “an anchor baby illegal alien” who “works with and for the Mexican Government to help them make California a Mexican state again (La Reconquista)”:

    De Leon is an anchor baby illegal alien from Los Angeles / Tijuana / Barrio Logan, San Diego (home of Chicano Park) and works with and for the Mexican Government to help them make California a Mexican state again (La Reconquista). Mexico briefly controlled California in the early 1800’s for 27 years. They want to control it again through mass occupation, and they are. Latinos (mostly Mexicans) are now the dominant “race” in California.

    In response to a commenter who said that “for the most part it's true if you vote for a Latino they will protect Illegals before they protect citizens,” the group wrote: “Most but not all. SgtMaj [and California Republican congressional candidate] Juan Hidalgo is a true American patriot.”

    SBSB is virulently anti-Muslim

    SBSB frequently attacks Muslims. The group has claimed that there’s a supposed “muslim and illegal alien invasion in San Diego and California.”

    In 2016, it complained of President Barack Obama’s purported “massive unvetted Muslim refugee dumping in San Diego.” In February, the group shared a post from the Facebook page San Diegans against Islamic Sharia Law that began: “Best news in years! Muslim refugee arrivals down 96% in San Diego County in FY18!” 

    The group has also attacked political candidates because they're Muslim. The group wrote, “In case [Republican congressional candidate] Omar Qudrat or any of the other 3 Muslim candidates running for office in San Diego make it past the Primary on Tuesday. Hold them accountable!” and then linked to an article by anti-Muslim writer Bill Warner stating that people should ask Muslim political candidates “well crafted questions about Sharia.”

    SBSB also posted a link to a HuffPost article reporting that “a handful of candidates running for office in 2018 could soon become the first Muslim woman (or women) to ever serve in U.S. Congress,” commenting: “How do you feel about Sharia Law in our Congress?” 

    In a radio interview, Schwilk falsely claimed that “not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.”

  • GOP-backed congressional candidate is a 9/11 truther who cites an Alex Jones video

    Ron Cohen: “Bush staged 9/11”

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    UPDATE: Cohen has removed the remarks about 9/11 quoted in this post from both his website and Twitter. Media Matters has added a screenshot and archived links for his original remarks.

    Republican Party groups in California have endorsed the congressional campaign of Ron Cohen, who has claimed that “Bush staged 9/11,” said the collapse of 7 World Trade Center was a “pre-planned demolition,” and cited a video from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones as evidence in explaining why he's a 9/11 truther.

    Cohen is the GOP candidate in California’s 17th District and a member of the Alameda County Republican Central Committee. His website touts that he is “endorsed by: The California GOP, The Alameda County Republican Party, and the Santa Clara County Republican Party” (all three committees endorse Cohen on their websites).

    Conspiracy theorists have long believed that 7 World Trade Center, which was north of the twin towers, was intentionally destroyed through a controlled demolition. However, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has debunked the conspiracy theory and stated the fall of the building “was primarily due to fires.”

    Cohen discusses the building's collapse in a post headlined "Why I am running for Congress" on his campaign website, writing: “Watch the windows … Classic pre-planned demolition” and links to a video headlined “NEW VIDEO SEPT 2011. WTC Building 7 Controlled Demolition (Visible Explosions).”

    He also cites a video from Infowars, the network of prominent 9/11 conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. The video was headlined “9/11 Firefighter Blows WTC 7 Cover-Up Wide Open” and stated in its summary: “Infowars reporter Lee Ann McAdoo talks to Rudy Dent, 32 year veteran of NYC fire department and the NYPD, about his incredible first hand experience of the lies surrounding WTC 7.” Cohen writes after posting a link to the video: "The official story is utter nonsense and a cover-up by the mainstream media, intensionally [sic]." (The video is no longer available at its original link because YouTube shut down Jones’ channel but it has been reposted elsewhere on YouTube.)

    Cohen also directs readers to the 9/11 conspiracy theory group Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, telling them to go to its website “for, I believe, the 9/11 truth.” He links to the group’s hour-long documentary 9/11: Explosive Evidence -- Experts Speak Out. That documentary claims to “present the evidence of controlled demolition at the World Trade Center on 9/11.”

    He concludes in the 9/11 section of his website: “This is exactly what Congress should be investigating, again, and if elected, I will. God willing, we will right this injustice before the people involved pass away, keeping their pledge of silence.”

    Cohen has also tweeted about 9/11, writing earlier this month that “G.W. Bush staged 9/11 to attack Iraq. He should be in a jail cell.” He also added: “Clear straight down DEMO. Why did Bldg 6 and 7 fail, not hit? I know this is hard to digest.”

    Cohen has pushed other conspiratorial rhetoric that has also appeared in conservative media. Jennifer Wadsworth reported for San Jose Inside on September 22 that Cohen recently “took to Twitter to rail against immigrants, cast doubt on the rape allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanagh and promote a conspiracy theory about Michelle Obama being born a man.” Cohen also “went on to suggest that Barack Obama is secretly gay and that Sasha and Malia had surrogate parents because of Michelle’s inability to conceive as a biological male. Basically, the same wackadoodle plots hawked by Twitter outcast and snake-oil salesman Alex Jones.”

    On his website, Cohen also discusses the chemtrails conspiracy theory, writing: “I'm been very concerned that the Airforce has been spraying us with chemicals. Several people have mentioned to me they ‘tasted aluminum’ on their tongues in the morning. I have also. There is a technology called a ‘Scalar weapon’ that bounces beams off particles in the sky from far away. There are also concerns of population control techniques or to cool the planet. … I can't prove Chemtrails are chemicals and not just water vapor....and I don't like to talk about things when I'm not sure of the facts. So, I'll say no more about Chemtrails...for now.”

    Media Matters previously documented that the California Republican Party has endorsed Republican congressional candidate Dale Mensing despite him campaigning on the chemtrails conspiracy theory and citing an Alex Jones video as evidence. In Illinois, GOP groups revoked their endorsements of congressional candidate Bill Fawell because he promoted conspiracy theories, including about 9/11.

  • GOP-backed House candidate in California has campaigned on chemtrails conspiracy theory and cited Alex Jones

    House candidate Dale Mensing said “dealing with chemtrails is one of the three primary issues of my campaign”

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Dale Mensing, a congressional candidate who’s backed by the California Republican Party, wrote that the chemtrails conspiracy theory "is one of the three primary issues” of his campaign and used a video from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones as evidence.

    Mensing is challenging incumbent Democratic Rep. Jared Huffman in the general election for California’s 2nd District for the third time. Mensing has the endorsement of the California Republican Party; additionally, he states on his website that he has endorsements from “the Del Norte County Republican Central Committee, the Marin County Republican Central committee, the Sonoma​ County Republican Central Committee and the Mendocino County Republican Central Committee.” (Those county campaign committees mention and/or link to Mensing’s website on their respective websites.)

    Republican committees in California have backed Mensing even though he's stated that one of the “primary issues” of his campaign is chemtrails, referring to a conspiracy theory that’s been pushed by media personalities including Alex Jones.

    Some references to chemtrails on Mensing’s website have been removed this week for unclear reasons. His main page previously featured “chemtrails” on his main page; that mention has since been removed (though his “chemtrails” subpage is still available). He also had a page about the California primary titled “June 5, 2018 Endorsements and Primary Campaign Points,” which stated that a “primary” point of his campaign was to “expose and eliminate chemtrails”; that page was up until recently but is now no longer available.

    Mensing’s attention to the issue has been briefly noted outside of his website; for example, a May 8 article about the GOP primary in the Marin Independent Journal mentioned that Mensing “has a host of issues,” including “eliminating airplane chemtrails.”

    The New York Times wrote in 2016 of chemtrails: “One persistent belief in some quarters is that the government -- or business, perhaps -- is deploying a fleet of jet aircraft to spray chemicals into the sky to control the population, food supply or other things. As evidence, they point to what they call ‘chemtrails,’ which are more commonly known as contrails, or condensation trails, produced at high altitudes as water vapor in jet engine exhaust condenses and freezes.” Scientists have repeatedly stated that there’s no evidence to support the chemtrails conspiracy theory.

    Mensing has a page dedicated to chemtrails that states of the issue: “I have many questions and I know a few things. I know enough [to] tell the reader that dealing with chemtrails is one of the three primary issues of my campaign for the house of representatives. As I post these paragraphs, I plan to add more in the days and weeks to come.”

    He also directed readers and potential voters to several videos related to chemtrails, including an August 2014 video on Alex Jones' YouTube channel. That video -- which is no longer available in its original location because YouTube has banned Jones’ channel, though an unofficial Infowars fan account has reposted it -- was titled “Government Weather Manipulation Exposed” and featured Jones pushing the chemtrails conspiracy theory (the video has been reposted to YouTube by an unofficial Infowars fan account).

    In the Mensing-backed video, Jones said that “the globalists” are “playing God” and “they’re doing it with jet trails, with the chemicals, they’re doing it with these different microwave systems and relay towers that then resonate with it. They’ve got over-the-horizon radar, [that] is one reason they’re spraying this stuff. The point is, we need to know.”

    Mensing did not respond to a request for comment by posting time.

  • Maine Senate nominee Eric Brakey sponsored a fundraising message to Roger Stone’s email list

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    The campaign of Maine Republican Senate nominee Eric Brakey sponsored a message to the email list of dirty trickster Roger Stone that asked for support and donations.

    Stone works for conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ Infowars network and has been a longtime adviser to President Donald Trump. Stone is a vicious racist, misogynist, liar, and conspiracy theorist whose activities are being scrutinized by special counsel Robert Mueller.

    On September 6, Stone forwarded a sponsored message to his email list on behalf of Brakey, a Maine state senator who is challenging incumbent Independent Sen. Angus King. A disclaimer before the fundraising pitch stated: “We are excited to share with you a special message from one of our sponsoring advertisers, Brakey For US Senate. It is also sponsors like them that help fund Stone Cold Truth. Please note that the following message reflects the opinions and representations of our sponsor alone, and not necessarily the opinion of Roger Stone.”

    The sponsored message was written by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and asked readers to “please join me in supporting Eric by chipping in a donation to help him knock off Angus King.” The end of the email stated that it was “paid for by Eric Brakey for U.S. Senate.”

    Media Matters has documented that Stone has sent sponsored emails on behalf of other Republican campaigns, including Dan DeBono for Congress, Rick Scott for Senate, and Geoff Diehl for Senate.

    Strangely, DeBono denied paying Stone or his Stone Cold Truth website for advertising and reportedly “speculated that Stone Cold Truth may have used his letter on their own because ‘they need content.’” Scott’s campaign told The Associated Press that the email “was a vendor mistake - they are not advertising with Stone or paying him to send out emails on their behalf.” By contrast, Diehl touted Stone’s endorsement of him -- which came after Diehl advertised with Stone -- on Facebook.

    Brakey’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

  • Republican Party of Kentucky denounces state House candidate following Media Matters report

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    The Republican Party of Kentucky has denounced its nominee for a state House seat after Media Matters documented that he appeared on a white nationalist program and criticized minorities.

    Media Matters reported on September 6 that Everett Corley, who is the Republican nominee to represent the 43rd District in the Kentucky House of Representatives, appeared on the white nationalist program The Ethno State in 2014. The show was hosted by self-described white nationalist William Johnson and was associated with the white nationalist American Freedom Party.

    Corley pushed white nationalist talking points during that program. Among his comments, he said that white people in his community are “completely surrounded by” minorities and he personally feels that there are “a bunch of white liberals and then minorities who've -- conspired together to cut the white working class out of power in Jefferson County.”

    Corley also discussed Sen. Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) interracial marriage, stating that he believes "we should maintain our people" but also suggesting that McConnell’s "marriage is not my problem" because it hasn’t produced any children.

    The Courier Journal’s Phillip M. Bailey reported today that the Republican Party of Kentucky has distanced itself from Corley’s candidacy. From the Louisville-based paper’s report:

    Republican Party of Kentucky spokesman Tres Watson said in a statement Friday that Corley is a "perennial candidate with a history of offensive statements and behavior."

    "His views do not reflect those of the Republican Party of Kentucky," he said. "He has not received aid or assistance from the party in the past nor will he in the future."

    Watson said Corley's picture and campaign information has been taken off the GOP website.

    Corley said he doesn't intend to drop out of the race but questions the timing of the 2014 interview becoming more public months ahead of this year's midterm election.

    The paper reported that Corley “said his comments were provocative but not racist.”

    Corley, who is a realtor, said Thursday that his comments on the program were no different from what some social scientists have said about U.S. economic conditions. He said his comments were provocative but not racist.

    "I'm not a racist, and I could give you a string of reasons why I'm not," he said. "My entire business life has been dependent on finding good homes for all people, half of which are African-Americans, and all would tell you I treat them with respect."

    Corley also bizarrely told the Courier Journal “that he didn't know exactly what Johnson meant when he called himself a white nationalist." The paper quoted Corley saying that if Johnson "said he was a racist, a neo-Nazi or a member of the Klan, I would have hung up."

    His defense is nonsensical -- during his program featuring Corley, Johnson repeatedly espoused blatantly racist views. For instance, Johnson began the show by explaining that his organization wants to “create an ethnostate, one where our people, European Americans, can reside without the influence and all of the pullings and tuggings of the difficulties that occurred through this multicultural society that we live in now.” He also said Sen. McConnell is “interracially married and so he is taking a stand that will destroy the white race” and that “our society is dying in part because of interracial marriage.”

    Republican officials have had to repeatedly denounce candidates this cycle for espousing racist views.

  • GOP nominee for Kentucky state House appeared on white nationalist show and complained about minorities

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    UPDATE: Republican Party of Kentucky denounces state House candidate following Media Matters report

    The Republican nominee to represent a state House district in Kentucky previously appeared on a white nationalist show and complained about minorities supposedly conspiring against whites. He also discussed Sen. Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) interracial marriage, stating that he believes "we should maintain our people" but also suggesting that McConnell’s "marriage is not my problem" because it hasn’t produced any children.

    In May, Everett Corley won the Republican nomination to represent the 43rd District in the Kentucky House of Representatives. The Republican Party of Kentucky lists Corley on its slate of “elected officials & candidates.”

    In 2016, he unsuccessfully ran as a Republican and then as a third-party candidate for a U.S. House seat. In 2014, Corley also ran as a Republican for the 43rd District seat but lost in the general election (he ran then as Corley Everett but later changed his name).

    During that 2014 campaign, Corley appeared on the August 8, 2014, edition of The Ethno State, a program associated with the white nationalist American Freedom Party and hosted by self-described white nationalist William Johnson. The American Freedom Party states that it is “both a political party and activist organization dedicated to the interests vital to the preservation and continuity of ethnic European communities within the United States of America.”

    During the nearly hour-long show, Corley pushed white nationalist talking points and attacked minorities.

    Johnson, who serves as the chairman of the American Freedom Party, began the episode featuring Corley by explaining that he named the show The Ethno State because people at his organization want to “create an ethnostate, one where our people, European Americans, can reside without the influence and all of the pullings and tuggings of the difficulties that occurred through this multicultural society that we live in now.”

    Corley later said that one thing that “struck” him about the American Freedom Party was that “if you’re a minority you can belong to all these groups that champion your ethno-background but you certainly [have] very little to do as a European or a Caucasian American.” Johnson replied: “Well that’s a good point and that’s a nice plug for the American Freedom Party.”

    Corley also stated that white people in his community are “completely surrounded by” minorities and he personally feels that there are “a bunch of white liberals and then minorities who've -- conspired together to cut the white working class out of power in Jefferson County.”

    Toward the end of the program, Johnson complained that Sen. Mitch McConnell is “interracially married and so he is taking a stand that will destroy the white race, and so in my mind you can -- you must vote for a Black man before you can vote for someone who is going to destroy our race by interracially marrying. You must vote for anybody but a white man who is interracially married.” (McConnell is married to Elaine Chao, who is now President Donald Trump’s secretary of transportation.)

    Corley responded, in part, by saying that he feels “we should maintain our people and our culture as much as anyone else, and that's a post -- and I’m not saying this in a bad way, but that’s a post, shall we say, marriage that has not born any children or anything. That’s simply a marriage of companionship, you understand what I’m saying? So, I don’t think he’s trying to make a statement about children on that marriage, I just simply think that that’s someone he relates to on an interpersonal relationship. But be that as it may, that primarily is not what I’m -- his marriage is not my problem, you know what I’m saying?" He then added, before being cut-off: "If he's capable of supporting the things I support in that situation, then that's -- if we're going to be against people --”

    Johnson continued to criticize interracial dating, claiming: “Our society is dying in part because of interracial marriage.” Corley responded that he's “not trying to be too positive about this, but interracial marriage is just like -- is on the same par as what the gay agenda would be. Interracial marriage actually, Mr. Johnson, is an insignificant -- at least in Kentucky, is insignificant, it’s two, one and a half, two percent, just as the gay thing is one and a half, two percent, and it attracts enormous attention but at the end of the day, and I’m not trying to be positive, but 95 percent of people who are white, marry within their own people.”

    A few months after Corley’s appearance on The Ethno State, The American Freedom Party endorsed Corley for his 2014 run.

    During that race, then-Papa John's Pizza CEO John Schnatter -- who resigned from the company this year after he used the n-word in a conference call -- donated $250 to Corley’s campaign, as the Courier Journal's Phillip M. Bailey noted. U.S. Rep. James Comer (R-KY) -- who was then the state's agricultural commissioner -- also attended a fundraiser for Corley in 2014.

    Corley has continued his racist activities since his appearance on The Ethno State. In 2016, he joined an effort to stop the removal of a Confederate statue on the University of Louisville campus. He called University of Louisville professor Ricky Jones, who advocated for removing the statue, “a damn dirty black bastard” on Facebook. Corley later deleted the post and said it was “inexcusable”; lawyers who represented Corley in a lawsuit defending the statue later dropped him as a client, citing his “offensive and unwise remarks.”

    *Following the publication of this piece, the American Freedom Party apparently removed The Ethno State episode with Corley. Media Matters downloaded the show beforehand; a copy of it is available here.

  • The writer with ties to white nationalists who resigned from DHS donated to the RNC, Donald Trump, Kris Kobach, and Dave Brat

    Update: Ian Smith also donated to Corey Stewart's 2017 gubernatorial campaign

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Ian Smith, a writer who recently resigned from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) over his ties to white nationalists, donated thousands of dollars combined to the Republican National Committee (RNC) and the Republican campaigns of President Donald Trump, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, and Rep. Dave Brat from Virginia..

    The Atlantic’s Rosie Gray reported on August 28 that Smith, who had recently worked at DHS as a policy analyst on immigration issues, “had in the past been in contact with a group that included known white nationalists as they planned various events.” She added that the messages “provide a glimpse into how a group that included hard-core white nationalists was able to operate relatively incognito in the wider world, particularly in conservative circles.”

    The Washington Post’s Nick Miroff reported on August 30 that "Smith, a Department of Homeland Security analyst who resigned this week after he was confronted about his ties to white nationalist groups, attended multiple immigration policy meetings at the White House, according to government officials familiar with his work.”

    Additionally, as Miroff noted, “during the period he was in communication with white-supremacist groups, Smith wrote dozens of articles for publications including National Review, the Hill and the Daily Caller. Many of the pieces call for tighter immigration controls.” Mother Jones’ Noah Lanard reported more on Smith’s media career in an August 30 piece, writing that he has a “long history of radical anti-immigrant writings.”

    Media Matters found that Smith also donated a total of $8,150 to Republicans in recent years. He donated $540 to the Republican National Committee, $2,700 to Trump Make America Great Again Committee (a joint fundraising committee for Trump and the RNC), $2,160 to Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., and $250 to Friends of Dave Brat Inc., according to Federal Election Commission data. He also donated $2,000 to Kris Kobach’s gubernatorial campaign, according to Kansas Secretary of State data; and he donated $500 to Corey Stewart's 2017 campaign for Virginia governor, according to Virginia Department of Elections data accessed via the Virginia Public Access Project (Stewart, a neo-Confederate, is now running for U.S. Senate).

  • GOP congressional nominee Mark Harris signed statement claiming terrorism is the “very essence” of Islam

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Mark Harris, a Republican congressional nominee who has frequently appeared in right-wing media, signed a false and bigoted statement claiming that “all terror groups … have 100% Muslim membership” and “terrorist entities are not aberrations of Islam, they are the very essence of it.”

    Harris is the Republican nominee for North Carolina’s 9th District. As a pastor, he has worked with the anti-LGBTQ group Family Research Council and has appeared in its media productions.

    Harris has a long history of misogynistic and anti-LGBTQ comments. Media Matters previously documented that he favorably remembered when “homosexuality was once criminalized” and endorsed a Family Research Council pamphlet claiming that sexual orientation can sometimes be changed, including through the harmful practice of conversion therapy.

    President Donald Trump is scheduled to attend an August 31 fundraiser supporting Harris and incumbent Republican Rep. Ted Budd of North Carolina's 13th District.

    In his career, Harris has also supported bigotry against Muslims. In early 2016, Harris signed an anti-Muslim statement titled “Understanding Islam” that was organized by Dave Kistler, who heads the North Carolina Pastors’ Network. (In 2017, that group paid for a billboard that said, "Why support President Trump's immigration ban? 19 Muslim immigrants killed 2977 Americans. September 11, 2001.") The Harris-signed statement reportedly ran as an advertisement in the Hickory Daily Record (NC) and purported to address “inaccuracies” regarding the media’s portrayal of Islam. Among its claims was the blatantly false assertion that “all terror groups … have 100% Muslim membership. Tragically, these terrorist entities are not aberrations of Islam, they are the very essence of it.” From the statement:

    Also, frequently and erroneously stated is the claim that most acts of terror are committed by non-Muslims. The overwhelming number of recent terror attacks, in which the perpetrators all asserted Islam as their ideology, should thoroughly disprove those claims. All terror groups – Al Qaeda, Al Nusra, Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, Ansar al Islam, Ansar al Sharia, Al Shabaab, the Mujahedeen, Boko Haram and ISIS – have one thing in common. They all have 100% Muslim membership. Tragically, these terrorist entities are not aberrations of Islam, they are the very essence of it.

    The statement additionally claimed that Islam is a fundamentally violent religion:

    Regrettably, most Americans know nothing substantive about Islam. Hence, they read/listen to the seemingly peaceful remarks of Islam’s professed followers and accept them at face value, not knowing that Islam’s 1400 years of advancement has always been via the sword. Seldom is reference made to the first nine chapters (surahs) of the Koran, in which the most overt statements about treatment of infidels, or unbelievers (the kufar), are made.

    The statement was also signed by numerous other North Carolina pastors and Act for America, an anti-Muslim group with a long history of bigotry. 

    Such anti-Muslim rhetoric has been a staple of right-wing media and Republican politicians like Trump.

  • Rep. Jason Lewis repeatedly endorsed a shady gold company connected to Alex Jones

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    “You need to talk to my friends at Midas Resources. … Tell them Jason sent you.” -- Jason Lewis

    As a radio host, Rep. Jason Lewis (R-MN) repeatedly touted Midas Resources, a precious metals company connected to conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Lewis endorsed Midas on air, partnered with it to help sell his book, and even joined a radio syndicator that was started in order to publicize the company.

    People who followed Lewis’ financial advice might have been sorely disappointed. In the year after Lewis ended his radio show, the state of Minnesota revoked Midas’ license, alleging that the company engaged “in acts and practices that demonstrate they are incompetent, financially irresponsible, and otherwise unqualified.” The families of six victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting have also sued the Lewis-backed company for defamation related to its close ties with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

    Lewis, who has been dubbed Minnesota’s “mini-Trump,” is serving his first term in Congress. During his media career, he frequently made anti-LGBTQ, misogynistic, and racist remarks.

    Many of those remarks came via the radio syndicator Genesis Communications Network (GCN), which Lewis joined in July 2011 after he left Premiere Radio Networks (Lewis left his show in July 2014). Theodore (Ted) Anderson created GCN in 1998 as a publicity vehicle to sell products from Midas Resources, which he founded two years prior.

    GCN’s main personality is Alex Jones, the widely discredited conspiracy theorist who has pushed toxic conspiracy theories about 9/11, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, and the Boston Marathon bombing, among many other tragedies. His use of hate speech and bullying has recently gotten him banned from several platforms.

    Jones is inextricably linked to GCN and Midas Resources. GCN has been Jones’ national syndicator for roughly two decades, encompassing his rise from a local Austin, TX, personality to a leading media ally of President Donald Trump. Jones and his Infowars network have frequently endorsed Midas Resources products and hosted Anderson on their programming. And the company’s promotional material has heavily relied on “special” offers related to Jones. As Anderson told Bloomberg News in 2013, “We do a lot of business with Alex Jones’ listeners.”

    New York magazine’s Seth Brown reported on GCN’s reliance on Jones last year, writing that the network “uses what is called the barter model. GCN offers the content for no cost, and in exchange, GCN reserves the right to sell national advertising against the programs. … GCN itself seems to depend very heavily on advertising revenue from Alex Jones’s show. An advertising rate sheet that the network shared with me indicates that advertising on Infowars specifically is 32 times more expensive than advertising generally on GCN.” (Jones himself largely makes money by selling "his own dietary supplements" and “doesn’t get syndication fees from GCN. He doesn’t get a cut of the advertising that GCN sells.”)

    For roughly three years, Lewis broadcast on a radio network whose top personality was Alex Jones and purpose was to sell Midas products. And he made good on being a pitchman for Midas.

    Here’s an example of him from January 2013 telling listeners that if they “want the ultimate inflation hedge, you need to talk to my friends at Midas Resources. … Tell them Jason sent you.” (Lewis also noted that “commodities fluctuate in price; they can go up and down. Very volatile. There’s no guarantee.”)

    He also teamed up with Midas to offer his 2011 book for “FREE when you purchase a silver dollar from Midas Resources.” Advertisements for his book via Midas also ran on his now-defunct website in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.

    Anderson was apparently appreciative of Lewis’ help. According to Federal Election Commission records, he donated a total of $5,300 to Lewis’ 2016 congressional campaign.

    Midas’ shady practices eventually caught up with the company. In September 2015, the Minnesota Department of Commerce alleged that Midas:

    • “engaged in acts and practices that demonstrate they are incompetent, financially irresponsible, and otherwise unqualified to act under the authority of the Commissioner in violation of” a Minnesota statute;
    • “regularly misappropriated money received in the course of buying, selling, soliciting, or marketing bullion coins or investments in bullion coins to consumers in violation of” a Minnesota statute; and
    • “routinely failed without prior agreement to deliver bullion coins to its customers within 30 days of payment and otherwise misrepresented to consumers the terms of sale and delivery date of bullion coins in violation of” a Minnesota statute.

    The department revoked Midas Resources’ bullion coin dealer registration and required the company to pay restitution to its customers and a potential civil penalty to the state depending on whether it completed restitution.

    Midas’ bullion registration is currently inactive and its website now sells “meats” and “supplements.”

    In May, the families of six people who were killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting filed a defamation lawsuit against Jones and others, including Genesis Communications Network and Midas Resources. The complaint noted that Midas "has sold precious metals, dietary supplements, and other items as advertised by and in cooperation with defendant Genesis Communications and the Jones defendants." 

    Media Matters sent a request for comment to an address listed on Midas Resource's website but it was bounced back; another email sent to an address associated with Ted Anderson at garnered no response.*

    *This paragraph was updated with additional information.

  • Florida Republican had “wonderful” event with white nationalist writer who’s been involved in Holocaust denial movement

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Peter Gemma, a white nationalist writer who has been involved in the Holocaust denial movement, recently held an event for Tommy Gregory, the presumptive Republican nominee for a Florida state House seat.

    Gregory is running for the Florida House of Representatives. His primary opponent, Melissa Howard, dropped out of the race after she lied about graduating from Miami University in Ohio then tried to cover it up by posing with a fake degree.

    In a recent Facebook post, Gregory thanked Gemma for organizing “a wonderful meet & greet event” on August 12 that covered “the erosion of Constitutional Rights, Establishment/Swamp Politics, the lack of American Civics classes, and Illegal Immigration.” Gemma replied in the post's comments section that it was his "pleasure being of service in this very important campaign." (Gregory removed his Facebook post after this piece was published; a link to an archive page of it has been added.)

    Gemma has a long history of extremism, as Media Matters has documented.

    The Washington Post reported in April 2005 that Gemma organized an event for David Irving, “a well-known Holocaust denier who has claimed that Jews were not killed in gas chambers at Auschwitz.” Gemma told the Post that Irving "has caused waves in the establishment by uncovering documents and evidence some historians don't like to admit."

    In 2004, as the Anti-Defamation League wrote, “Gemma introduced notorious Holocaust denier Mark Weber at a meeting of the Institute for Historical Review (IHR), once the leading Holocaust denial organization in the United States.” The IHR stated on its website that Weber, who is the group's director, spoke about the Iraq War and characterized it as “a war to further the interests of Israel and organized Jewry.”

    Gemma previously did work for the white supremacist group Council of Conservative Citizens. According to its “Statement of Principles,” the group believes, among other things, that “the American people and government should remain European in their composition and character,” and it opposes “all efforts to mix the races of mankind.” He also edited and wrote an introduction to a book lionizing the late white nationalist writer Sam Francis, who wrote the Council of Conservative Citizens’ “Statement of Principles.”

    Gemma also worked as the director of media relations for the white supremacist National Policy Institute. He has written for the white nationalist website VDare, the white nationalist journal The Occidental Quarterly, and he has appeared on the white nationalist radio program The Political Cesspool.

    Gregory did not respond to a request for comment.

    Media Matters previously documented that Kansas gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach cited a made-up anti-immigrant statistic by Gemma in a column posted on and his campaign website.

    UPDATE (8/27): Following the publication of this piece, Liv Coleman, Gemma's Democratic opponent, issued a press release criticizing Gregory for "associating with a known White Nationalist."

    Gregory deleted his Facebook post about the event and issued a new post lashing out at "the liberal media." He wrote, in part, that he does "not know what Peter Gemma believes, but I know he denies the allegations made by the liberal media and claims to have served as a staff member in four presidential campaigns." (As the Anti-Defamation League noted, in 2000, "Gemma worked as a senior staffer on racist Pat Buchanan’s Presidential campaign.") Gregory added: "I am disgusted by racism and holocaust denials."

    Lourdes Ramirez, a Republican who is running for Sarasota County Commission, District 4, wrote in the comments section for Gregory's post that she "also had a Meet & Greet at Peter B. Gemma house. It is disgusting to see people with an obvious agenda try to paint the event as anything but our meeting voters of the area. Heck, I’ve been subjected to racists remarks as recently as last week when someone on Facebook wanted to call ICE on me which is ridiculous. So I’m very sensitive about racism. So I believe that this so called story is just a smear campaign. I’ll be happy to join you to fight this."

    This piece has been updated for clarity and with additional information.