Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano said in a filing that he paid $5,000 in “campaign consulting” fees to social media platform Gab. Mastriano is paying a company that supports white nationalists like Nick Fuentes and has been a haven to violent extremists like the alleged Pittsburgh synagogue mass shooter.
Mastriano is a right-wing commentator, Pennsylvania state senator, and 2020 election conspiracy theorist who participated in the January 6 insurrection. Mastriano has a long history of promoting extremism, including content that pushes QAnon, anti-Muslim bigotry, and COVID-19 conspiracy theories and falsehoods. He also has repeatedly compared gun safety measures and abortion to the Holocaust.
According to a filing with the Pennsylvania Department of State, Mastriano paid $5,000 to Gab for the purposes of “campaign consulting” on April 28, 2022. (Update 7/28/22: Following the publication of this article, Mastriano's filing was updated to state that the expenditure was for “adverting consulting.”) Gab is a haven for users who are white supremacists, antisemites, and violent extremists.
The site gained scrutiny when one of its users allegedly killed 11 people at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue in 2018. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette wrote that “Network Contagion Research Institute director Joel Finkelstein said there was little or no pushback from others on Gab.com when [the alleged shooter] posted or shared anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant slogans and memes. There was plenty of encouragement.” Before the attack, the alleged shooter wrote on Gab: ““HIAS [the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society] likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can't sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics. I'm going in."
Media Matters contacted Gab CEO Andrew Torba for clarification about what exactly Mastriano paid his company to do. He replied: “Do you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord, Savior, and King? Otherwise I don’t speak to reporters who are not Christian.”
Mastriano has embraced Gab -- he has an account on the platform and was interviewed by Torba on May 2. The two praised each other during that talk, with Mastriano telling the Gab CEO: “Thank God for what you’ve done.” Gab endorsed Mastriano on May 12, with Torba writing: “Finally we have a strong Christian man to lead PA out of the pit of hell and into the glory of God.”