Republican congressional candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is poised to become the first public supporter of the violence-linked QAnon conspiracy theory elected to Congress, has been paying racist media consultant Rick Shaftan hundreds of thousands of dollars for media work on her campaign. Shaftan has a history of anti-Black remarks, including calling majority-Black cities “shitholes”; telling people to not open businesses in Black neighborhoods; and claiming that the NAACP is “the Black KKK, only more violent and dangerous.”
QAnon supporters essentially believe -- based on cryptic posts to online message boards from an anonymous user known as “Q" -- that President Donald Trump is secretly working to take down the purported “deep state,” a supposed cabal of high-ranking officials who they claim are operating pedophile rings. In May 2019, the FBI released a bulletin listing QAnon as a potential domestic terrorism threat, and the conspiracy theory has been linked to multiple acts of crime and violence. As Media Matters has documented, Greene is a supporter of QAnon who has praised “Q” as “someone worth listening to” and a “patriot,” along with other remarks promoting the conspiracy theory.
Greene is now favored to become the first member of Congress to openly back QAnon. She finished first in Georgia’s recent election with 40% of the vote and is headed to an August 11 primary runoff against second-place finisher John Cowan, who received 21% of the vote.
Trump tweeted about Greene today, writing in response to her first-place finish: “A big winner. Congratulations!”
According to Federal Election Commission records, Greene’s campaign has disbursed over $277,000 to the firm Neighborhood Research and Media for various advertising buys and other services.
Republican consultant Rick Shaftan runs Neighborhood Research and Media. He previously worked for neo-Confederate GOP nominee Corey Stewart’s unsuccessful Senate campaign in Virginia and racist pundit Seth Grossman’s unsuccessful congressional race in New Jersey. (Grossman’s bigotry was so bad that the National Republican Congressional Committee dropped its support for him in 2018 following Media Matters’ reporting.)
The Daily Beast’s Kelly Weill reported in July 2018 that Shaftan “tweeted that three majority-black U.S. cities were ‘shitholes’ and repeatedly warned against opening businesses in black neighborhoods.” She added:
Shaftan, who runs communications for 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 additionally wrote that “twice in 2010, he called the NAACP ‘the Black KKK, only more violent and dangerous.’”
CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski and Chris Massie reported in August 2018 that Shaftan “used the term ‘house negro’ to criticize the GOP establishment and disparaged prominent Civil Rights figures John Lewis and Rosa Parks.” They also wrote that Shaftan referred to New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, “the first Sikh to hold the office, as ‘Turban Man.’”
In October 2018, Kaczynski and Nathan McDermott wrote that Shaftan also said in a Facebook post that Black Americans should “stop whining about ‘racism.’”