Over the July 4 2016 weekend, the Donald Trump campaign came under fire for sending out a tweet many considered anti-Semitic as it called Hillary Clinton the “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever” with the text in the shape of a Star of David. Trump and his social media director, Dan Scavino, defended the message, insisting that it was supposed to look like a sheriff’s badge. Nevertheless, they still removed the original tweet and replaced it with a meme that included the text in a circle.
Scavino was the target of Twitter critics on October 25, 2016 after he praised Newt Gingrich’s performance in a strange interview with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, where Gingrich accused Kelly of being “fascinated by sex” when she talks about the growing list of women accusing Trump of sexually assaulting them. “Watch what happens to her after this election is over,” Scavino wrote.
Scavino was hired by the Trump campaign in February as the social media director, but his ties to Trump run deep. Since Trump became President-Elect Trump, Scavino was added to the Presidential Transition Team’s Staff Leadership. On December 22, Trump hired Scavino as an Assistant to the President and Director of Social Media, once Trump is elected.
Here’s a look at his career and the current Twitter controversy.
1. Trump Campaign Says Clinton Surrogates are Linking the Meme with Anti-Semitism
In a statement issued on July 4, Trump and Scavino insisted that the connection between the meme and anti-Semitism was made by Clinton and her surrogates. “Clinton, through her surrogates, is just trying to divert attention from the dishonest behavior of herself and her husband,” the statement read.
Part of the statement was credited to come directly from Scavino, who admitted to taking the tweet from an anti-Clinton Twitter account. Scavino wrote:
The sheriff’s badge – which is available under Microsoft’s “shapes” – fit with the theme of corrupt Hillary and that is why I selected it.
As the Social Media Director for the campaign, I would never offend anyone and therefore chose to remove the image.
Clinton’s team did issue a statement, calling the meme a “blatantly anti-Semitic image.”
Mic traced the meme to a neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic and white supremacists message board called “/pol/,” which no longer exists, but was accessible through Archive.is. The image then surfaced on Twitter, with the account name “@fishbonehead1” in the bottom right-hand corner. The account no longer exists.
2. Scavino First Encountered Trump in the Early 1990s & Was His Caddie
Scavino is a longtime Trump employee, going back to the early 1990s. According to his LinkedIn account, Scavino worked summers and weekends at the Briar Hall Country Club golf course in Westchester County, New York, beginning at age 16. Trump later bought it and renamed it Trump National Golf Club. Scavino wrote on LinkedIn that he was Trump’s caddie when he would play at the golf course.
Scavino graduated from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh in 1998 with a B.A. in communications.
After a few years at Coca-Cola Enterprises and Galderma Laboratories, Scavino returned to the Trump fold. Trump hired him to be assistant manager at Trump National in 2004, then promoted him to general manager in 2006 and then executive vice president in 2007.
“I always knew Dan was going to run the club one day,” Trump told told Golf Magazine, which named Scavino one of the Most Admired Operators of 2009.
3. He Worked for Joe Torre’s Foundation Before Joining The Trump Campaign
Scavino left Trump in March 2013 and a few months later, he began working at the Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation, according to his LinkedIn page. He remained with the foundation as Director of Development until April 2015. At that point, he was asked to be an advisor for Trump’s campaign, although it wasn’t until February that Scavino was publicly named Trump’s social media director.
Scavino is also on the board of directors of The Eric Trump Foundation, a charity set up by Trump’s son that helps fund St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
After leaving Torre‘s foundation, he planned to create a public relations firm. However, the site is dormant and only has a picture of the Manhattan skyline.
4. He Once Said His Wife Told Him He Sounds Like Trump
In a Hudson Valley Magazine interview, Scavino said that some people – including his wife – will tell him that he sounds like his boss.
“That’s funny, my wife and some of my employees sometimes say, ‘You sound like Donald.’ I just have a passion of wanting to succeed,” Scavino said. “He just has this karma that rubs off on you, this positive energy of everything is great and it truly is.”
“He is one of the most unbelievable people I’ve ever met, as far as charisma. He has a tremendous personality and he’ll play with anybody,” Scavino said. “He plays with Donald and he too loves the game of golf. He always claims that this is his favorite golf course and he knows every nook and cranny of it.”
Scavino’s wife is Jewish, so he called allegations that he is anti-Semitic “AWFUL.”
5. Trump Also Hired New Media Director Justin McConney
Scavino isn’t the only member of the Trump team overseeing the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s media presence. As Fortune points out, Trump also has Trump Organization New Media Director Justin McConney to help out.
“Justin McConney has his ear to the social media world, and he’s ahead of the curve,” former Trump political advisor Sam Nunberg told Politico in September 2015. “He’s innovative, well-connected and always thinking about how to push the envelope.”
McConney came in after Nunberg was fired by the Trump campaign over allegedly racist posts on Trump’s Facebook page.