GOP links to extremism surface in congressional primaries – Jammu Kashmir Latest News | Tourism
Washington, July 27: A congressional candidate whose compelling personal story of military bravery and unfathomable loss helped him win the support of former President Donald Trump has ties to right-wing extremists, including a campaign consultant who was a member of the Proud Boys.
Republican Joe Kent, who is challenging U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler in Washington state in the Aug. 2 primary, has also courted prominent white nationalists and recently posed for a photo with a media personality who previously portrayed Adolf Hitler as a “complicated historical figure”. that “many people misunderstand”.
An Associated Press review of internet postings, court records and campaign finance disclosures paints a candidate with a more convoluted biography than the compelling personal story that made the 42-year-old Kent a frontrunner. conservative media.
Square-jawed with wavy black hair, the former Green Beret served 11 combat deployments before retiring to join the CIA. He also endured an untold tragedy: his wife, Shannon, a navy cryptologist, was killed by a suicide bomber in 2019 in Syria, leaving him to raise their two young sons alone.
Overall, Kent’s recent connections and activities heighten concerns about GOP ties to extremist groups.
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 uprising on the U.S. Capitol has drawn attention to the role these organizations, particularly the Proud Boys, played in efforts to disrupt the transfer of power after Trump’s 2020 re-election loss.
“A lot of (Republican) politicians play football with it. Kent is just plain shameless,” said Dave Neiwert, an author and journalist who has covered right-wing extremism in the Pacific Northwest for decades.
Kent’s campaign declined to make him available for an interview.
“Joe Kent’s inclusive populism platform rejects racism and bigotry and invites all Americans to support his aggressive America First agenda,” Matt Braynard, a Kent strategist, said in a statement.
Ahead of the final slate in the August primaries, Kent isn’t the only House candidate to worry some Republicans.
In Michigan, John Gibbs, a former Trump administration official who challenged Republican Rep. Peter Meijer, once spread false claims that Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign chairman participated in a satanic ritual.
In New York, Carl Paladino, a GOP House candidate, last year hailed Hitler as “the kind of leader we need today.”
And former Trump administration official Max Miller, the Republican candidate for a congressional seat from Ohio, has been accused of physical abuse by his ex-girlfriend. Miller denies the allegations.
But among those soon to face an election, Kent stands out for the extent of his ties to a deep-rooted extremist fringe that has long existed in the Pacific Northwest.
Campaign finance disclosures reveal that Kent recently paid $11,375 for “consultation” over the past four months to Graham Jorgensen, who was identified as a proud boy in a law enforcement report and has was charged with cyberstalking his ex-girlfriend in 2018. The charges were dismissed.
But a judge in Vancouver, Washington, issued a protective order requiring Jorgensen to stay away from her, records show.
Kent’s campaign said Jorgensen was a low-level worker and denied having any current affiliation with “outside organizations”. They declined to make Jorgensen available for an interview.
Kent is also a close political ally of Joey Gibson, the founder of the Christian nationalist group Patriot Prayer.
Gibson has staged protests in Portland, as well as in suburban Washington state, where he and his supporters have clashed with leftist groups. Many protests were coordinated with the Proud Boys.
The often violent rallies have drawn anti-government activists, extremists as well as white supremacists to unite for a common cause of fighting left-wing activists.
Photos of the events archived online show how, in some cases, Kent allies have partnered with people who have expressed white supremacist views.
In many instances, Gibson as well as Kent’s proud boy Jorgensen have been recorded alongside Jacob Von Ott, who posted racist and anti-Semitic views online.
Von Ott did not respond to a request for comment, but he has previously denied being a white supremacist.
Gibson spoke at a fundraiser in Kent last year. When it was Kent’s turn to speak at the event, he praised Gibson, explaining that he “stands up for this community when our community was under antifa onslaught.”
Gibson was acquitted of felony riot charges last week after an altercation with left-wing activists at a Portland bar.
Kent’s ties to extremism are not limited to the Pacific Northwest.
Braynard, a top Kent adviser, was the architect of a rally in Washington, D.C., last year that sought to drum up sympathy for those arrested during the insurgency by rebranding them as “prisoners policies”. Kent spoke at the rally.
And his candidacy is endorsed by far-right Arizona state legislator Wendy Rogers, who has identified herself as a member of the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia that has played an outsized role in taking storming the US Capitol.
Kent also sought support from figures associated with the “Groyper” white nationalist movement led by Nick Fuentes, an internet personality who promoted white supremacist beliefs and was behind the Jan. 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill.
Kent acknowledged that a political consultant made a call early in his campaign of which Fuentes was a part, where expanding his campaign’s reach on social media was discussed.
But he denied there was any sort of formal arrangement and walked away from Fuentes in March after their affiliation became widely known, tweeting that he didn’t “want Fuentes’ endorsement because of its emphasis on race/religion”.
After the rebuke, however, Kent appeared on a far-right YouTube channel where he echoed similar sentiments to many white nationalists.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with there being a special interest group for white people,” Kent said during an interview hosted by a group called the American Populist Union. .
In April, Kent was pictured at a fundraiser giving a thumbs up with Greyson Arnold, who identifies as an “American Christian nationalist”. Like Fuentes, Arnold was also in the United States Capitol during the insurrection.
Arnold shared memes online referring to the Nazis as a “pure race” and called Hitler a “complicated” and “misunderstood” historical figure. He did not respond to an email seeking comment. (AP)