A new foundation for Kyle Rittenhouse — who killed two people during an anti-racist protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 2020 — is run by a far-right gun extremist who once appeared on a white nationalist program, as well as a Christian nationalist who defended the Pizzagate conspiracy theory.
According to the Texas Tribune, the Rittenhouse Foundation lists two directors in addition to Rittenhouse himself — Texas Gun Rights President Chris McNutt and Defend Texas Liberty PAC treasurer Shelby Griesinger.
The foundation’s registered agent is the law firm of Tony McDonald. McDonald’s firm has also represented the conservative organization Empower Texans which — along with Defend Texas Liberty PAC — has received millions of dollars from fossil fuel billionaires Dan and Farris Wilks, who were early funders for conservative media outlets PragerU and The Daily Wire.
Rittenhouse became a celebrity in right-wing media after shooting three people at a Black Lives Matter rally in August 2020, and moved to Texas last year following his acquittal. He has since become increasingly active in state politics, including appearing at a rally with Daniel Miller, who advocates for Texas’ secession from the United States. Rittenhouse’s new foundation appears to be part of an effort to expand his footprint on the right, in which he has surrounded himself with predictably extreme figures.
On May 13, 2021, McNutt appeared on The Stew Peters Show, whose eponymous host had by that time already pushed election denial and Covid-19 conspiracy theories, and called for increased police militancy following the killing of Daunte Wright, a Black man, by Minnesota cop Kimberly Potter, who is white. Just days before McNutt’s appearance, Peters said a guest of his “rightly compared this jab to the Holocaust.” Peters has fully adopted white nationalist, anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.
Most of McNutt’s social media presence is dedicated to celebrating reactionary gun culture, but he also veers into other right-wing topics. Like many conservatives, he opposes the Covid-19 vaccine, and once claimed that Anthony Fauci, the former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, “is responsible for more deaths than Adolf Hitler.”
McNutt frequently posts anti-trans, anti-drag, and anti-gay comments, and has advanced a conspiracy theory that Planned Parenthood “targeted … black babies” with the aim of subjugating African American communities.
Griesinger, McNutt’s fellow director, is a young but prominent activist in Texas’ far-right scene. She was profiled as one of the state’s “Under 30 in Politics” by Current Revolt, a media organization the Texas Tribune identifies as “associated with the far right in Texas politics.” In that interview, Griesinger said she “100%” supported then-gubernatorial candidate Don Huffines, who had months earlier referred to migrants crossing the border as an “invasion” and called a state-sponsored resource page for LGBTQ people “offensive.” Just weeks after Griesinger’s Q&A was published, Huffines declined to fire a staffer with deep ties to white nationalists.
Like McNutt, Griesinger frequently espouses far-right views on Twitter, now known as X. In April, she pushed a conspiracy theory that the CIA was behind the vigilante shooting at Comet Ping Pong, specifically that the agency was attempting to “destroy” a “computer server” at the restaurant. This baseless accusation is an extension of the broader Pizzagate conspiracy theory, a precursor to QAnon. In August, she tweeted a full embrace of Christian nationalism.
Also in August, Griesinger retweeted a racist post from James Kirpatrick, the pseudonym of white nationalist writer Kevin DeAnna, a writer at the virulently anti-immigrant website VDare. One month earlier, she’d retweeted a post — quoting tweeting another racist post — that celebrated the deaths of asylum seekers in the Mediterranean Sea (the original post was later deleted by the author and the account was suspended).
Griesinger engages in bigoted rhetoric under her own name as well. She tweeted that “Jews & Muslims worship a false god,” and encouraged her followers to be “okay with saying ‘I have a problem with my child’s teacher being gay.’” She argued in favor of laws to restrict abortion rights despite their unpopularity, analogizing anti-abortion activists with the abolitionist movement. “Ending slavery wasn’t a winning issue,” Griesinger tweeted. “Most of Germany supported Hitler.”
Like McNutt, Griesinger advanced the conspiracy theory that the goal of abortion providers is “exterminating the black race.” She denied that structural racism plays a role in community violence, arguing instead that “black people are disproportionately shooting each other” absent any other political context.
According to the Texas Tribune, The Rittenhouse Foundation “ensures the Second Amendment is preserved through education and legal assistance.” The specifics of what that looks like remains to be seen, but the foundation may not be especially transparent. Several hours after the Texas Tribune report, Griesinger temporarily locked her Twitter account.