Candidate dropped by national GOP over racism hires consultant who advised businesses to avoid Black neighborhoods

Sean Hannity is also trying to save Seth Grossman’s floundering campaign

Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

After national Republicans abandoned right-wing pundit Seth Grossman's congressional campaign over his promotion of white nationalist propaganda, the New Jersey Republican hired a political consultant who has repeatedly advised people to avoid opening businesses in Black neighborhoods.

In July, the National Republican Congressional Committee dropped its support for Grossman shortly after Media Matters documented that he shared white nationalist propaganda, including an opinion piece claiming that Black people “are a threat to all who cross their paths.” Grossman, who is running to replace retiring Republican Rep. Frank LoBiondo, has pushed numerous other bigoted comments in his career as a commentator.  

According to his latest Federal Election Commission (FEC) report, Grossman paid Atlantic Media & Research $5,000 for “strategic consulting” on September 17. Atlantic Media & Research is a North Carolina-based company run by Republican consultant Rick Shaftan.

Reporters have documented that Shaftan has a history of making racist remarks.

The Daily Beast’s Kelly Weill reported on July 29 that Shaftan “tweeted that three majority-black U.S. cities were ‘shitholes’ and repeatedly warned against opening businesses in black neighborhoods.” From her piece:

Shaftan, who runs communications for [Virginia Republican Senate candidate Corey] Stewart, has for years publicly disparaged black people on Twitter.

“Crazed black people looting a liquor store is the ultimate racist stereotype. #Ferguson,” he tweeted in 2014 after the unrest following a white police officer’s killing of a black teenager. “After #Ferguson, only a fool would start, finance or insure a business in a black neighborhood,” he tweeted again. After violence in Baltimore following the death of a black man at the hands of police, Shaftan tweeted “The message out of Ferguson and Baltimore is a simple one: DON'T OPEN A BUSINESS IN A BLACK NEIGHBORHOOD!”

Responding to the news of a robbery in 2011, Shaftan wrote in a now-deleted tweet: “Another reason why white people (and Asians and Latinos) don't want to live with black people. #TheTruthHurts #Reality”

Weill noted that Shaftan also twice “called the NAACP ‘the Black KKK, only more violent and dangerous.’”

CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski and Chris Massie reported on August 1 that Shaftan “used the term ‘house negro’ to criticize the GOP establishment and disparaged prominent Civil Rights figures John Lewis and Rosa Parks.”

They additionally wrote that Shaftan referred to New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, “the first Sikh to hold the office, as ‘Turban Man,’ a term for which two local radio hosts were suspended” in July

Grossman isn't the only Republican candidate working with Shaftan in recent months.

According to FEC records, Arizona Republican and congressional candidate Wendy Rogers has paid tens of thousands of dollars to Shaftan’s company for polling. The payments have continued even after media reports have come out about Shaftan’s racism.

Shaftan has also done work for neo-Confederate and Virginia GOP Senate candidate Corey Stewart, who has numerous ties to white nationalists.

Though national Republicans have “written off” Grossman’s race, Fox News host Sean Hannity is still holding out hope for retaining the seat.

During his October 16 Fox News show, while running through “10 more of the House races that will decide the fate of the country,” Hannity said that Grossman is “in an extremely tough race against Democrat Jeff Van Drew. Yes, New Jersey matters.” Grossman picked up Hannity’s comment and promoted it on his campaign website and in a fundraising email.