TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Matt Fuehrmeyer, Director of Research & Strategic Communications
RE: House Republicans’ Troubling Relationships With Hate Groups & Fringe Elements
Donald Trump’s failure to quickly and thoroughly denounce former KKK leader David Duke earlier this year drew widespread media coverage. So too did reports that House Republican Whip Steve Scalise spoke to a group affiliated with Duke affiliated with Duke, and with good reason. After all, it’s incredibly disturbing for someone running for President of the United States or a leader in Congress to be associated with a group as hateful and dangerous as the Ku Klux Klan.
What voters may have missed, though, is the disturbing pattern of House Republicans and their chosen candidates similarly associating with hate groups and even organizations branded as domestic terrorist threats. House Republicans are no better than Donald Trump in this regard, and they MUST be held accountable for the company they keep.
Here are just some of the examples we know of. Several are held up as so-called “moderates,” but when they don’t think anyone will notice, they’re more than happy to cozy up with elements of their party on the fringes.
Scott Garrett. (NJ-05): The most recent example, Garrett held a political event last week with officials from the New Jersey Oath Keepers, a group the Chris Christie Administration considers a “domestic terror threat.” Garrett didn’t seem to care, telling the crowd at the event, “What I need from you is your blood, sweat and tears … We need the grass roots to come on out.”
Lee Zeldin (NY-01): Sadly, Garrett isn’t the first Republican in the House to cozy up to the Oath Keepers. Last year, Lee Zeldin met with the Long Island branch of the Oath Keepers. When confronted about the meeting, Zeldin’s spokesperson bizarrely justified the meeting by saying her boss had also met with the Sierra Club and SEIU.
John Faso (NY-19): Not to be outdone, NRCC “Young Gun” John Faso spoke at the New York Oath Keepers 2nd Annual Award Ceremony in June of this year.
Scott Jones (CA-07): The Sacramento County Sheriff and NRCC “Young Gun” talks a good game when it comes to immigration reform, but his willingness to associate with the fringe of his party reveals his true colors. Last year, Scott Jones took an all-expense-paid trip to DC to attend FAIR’s Hold Their Feet To The Fire conference. FAIR isn’t some random conservative outfit – they’re a hate group, and Scott Jones was happy to let them pay his way to DC to attend their conference and rub elbows with other anti-immigrant radicals.
Mike Coffman (CO-06): It came as a bit of a shock to learn that Mike Coffman spoke to an anti-Muslim hate group, but perhaps it shouldn’t have given that Coffman once said President Obama wasn’t an American. When asked to explain himself, Coffman inexplicably justified the speech by reminding people he’s a Marine. There’s no question that his service in uniform is commendable, but it’s not an excuse for addressing a hate group. Period.
Bob Dold (IL-10): At least Coffman tried to explain himself. Illinois Republican Bob Dold spoke to the same anti-Muslim hate group, but has yet to offer any kind of explanation. Dold, meanwhile, pretends to find Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric insulting, but when no one’s watching, Dold is more than happy to pal around with the same kind of people, exposing him for the hypocrite he is.
Cresent Hardy (NV-04): Talk about friends in low places. Hardy has come under fire for proudly standing with notorious rancher Cliven Bundy, and “only took a small step back from his support after Bundy publicly questioned whether ‘the Negro’ had been ‘better off as slaves.’”
Steve Knight (CA-25): Steve Knight’s affinity for extremism when it comes to immigration goes all the way back to his days in the California State Assembly, when Knight stood up at a press conference calling for passage of a bill just like SB 1070 in Arizona (you know, the “show me your papers” law). Joining Knight at the press conference was none other than Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, causing Latino Republicans in Arizona to attack Knight and the other lawmakers present for “seeking the aid of a known bigot.”
Jason Lewis (MN-02): This NRCC “Young Gun” created a platform for the alt-right to push their hate speech. In 2014, Lewis founded Galt.io, a members-only social network and virtual economy where members fund causes with a fake currency. Some of the top crowd-sourced causes? “All Lives Matter,” “Abolish Affirmative Action,” “Screw Diversity,” and.. “Adolf Hitler: The Greatest Story Never Told.”
Ryan Zinke (MT-AL): Ryan Zinke has troubling connections to hate groups. There’s even video of Zinke talking to a member of ProEnglish, which was designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Zinke also received a campaign check from the leadership of the extremist hate group Council for Conservative Citizens – the same group that inspired Charleston mass murderer Dylann Roof. He also endorsed a white supremacist running for the state legislature. Lastly, he joined with a known hate group to sponsor their legislation, disenfranchising Montana’s American Indians.