As news emerged that the not running, running, now not running and in fact, retiring, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is out, Republican white supremacist candidate for Ryan’s seat Paul Nehlen excitedly posted to Facebook the news and re-affirmed his intention to seek Ryan’s House seat.
Nehlen, who challenged Ryan in the 2016 Republican primary in Wisconsin’s 1st District lost by almost 70 points.
Nehlen said it’s time to “put the pedal to the metal” and donate to his campaign.
“Economic terrorists got my fundraising portal at Anedot disabled, then a few weeks ago, they got my PayPal disabled,” so he’s asking supporters to donate directly to his campaign website, as “every $10 helps.”
Nehlen is no stranger to debate and controversy. Here’s what you need to know:
1. White Nationalist Republican Nehlen Posted Scores of Racist Memes on Twitter Including an Offensive One of Prince Harry & Meghan Markel That Got His Account Suspended
By December of 2017, while he’d previously declined to say whether or not he was a white supremacist, with a tweet storm that gained national attention, Nehlen “went flat out alt right,” Johnathan Weisman, a New York Times editor, tweeted.
On Info Wars Nehlen said he was not racist, rather just stated “facts.”
“It’s a fact, African-Americans are 13 percent of the population and make up 90, 85 percent of the NBA …” His point was basketball is over-represented by African-Americans. “…in the NBA, you could have a picture of five teams and now you’re a racist if you’re pointing out” that the players are majority African-American, he asked rhetorically
But it was the tweet and the memes that followed of Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s fiancée, whose face had the image of so-called Cheddar Man, the 9,000 year-old dark skinned Briton, superimposed with Harry saying ‘Does this tie make my face look pale?”
Twitter suspended Nehlen for repeated violations. Like his many anti-Semitic posts.
2. Nehlen, Who Was Banned From Twitter, is Known for His Hate Rhetoric Against Jews
The Anti-Defamation League said Nehlen has “tacked further right in recent months, posting a stream of overtly anti-Semitic, racist and anti-immigrant messages, many of which have been celebrated and promoted widely by hundreds of accounts linked to alt-righter’s and other white supremacists…” including David Duke.
One could simply browse (now-deleted) tweets and note that Nehlen has not held back. Jewish civil rights attorney Ari Cohn told Newsweek last December that he was deluged on Twitter with memes honoring and praising Adolph Hitler and celebrating concentration camps following a Nehlen tweet where he used the triple parenthesis, alt-right cipher to denote someone is Jewish, to attack Cohn.
Nehlen posted a meme of NBC staff members with Jewish stars alleging that the media is controlled by Jews. And then a similar post for CNN.
From early December until he was finally banned in mid-February, Nehlen had tweeted alt-right memes and images that could be construed as anti-Semitic and racist.
Nehlen suggested John Mordecai Podhoretz, a New York Post columnist, conservative Jewish New Yorker and former speechwriter for Republican presidents, kill himself.
Nehlen was criticized for praising a book that blamed Jewish people for antisemitism, written by the “Neo-Nazi movement’s fave ‘academic,’ being pushed by Breitbart favorite Paul Nehlen,” Jake Tapper tweeted.
Nehlen pointed to a statement by his “Semite Liaison” to explain that he’s not anti-Semitic.
It should be noted that Facebook has not suspended his campaign account which features images like this:
3. With Alt-Right Infighting Ablaze, Nehlen Doxed Troll ‘Ricky Vaughn’ as Douglass Mackey
One could get in the weeds with this at once complicated and confounding brouhaha that is the factional alt-right infighting but suffice to say, Nehlen may be on the outs with a segment of the movement. Emphasis on may.
Nehlen’s decision to out Vaughn, which may be tied to a dispute over Vaughn offering and getting paid by Nehlen to post and bring more eyes to the Facebook page of the Wisconsin Republican. But Nehlen said Vaughn “did nothing” and then “bashed me” on alt-right podcasts. So Nehlen outed him. And then explained why.
That’s one version. But many like-minded white nationalists were not happy with the doxxing. ‘Ricky Vaughn,’ who its been argued helped to get Donald Trump elected via his provocative alt-right Twitter account (long since shuttered), being doxxed was wrong many say. Nehlen exposed Vaughn as college-educated, 28-year-old Upper West Side Manhattanite Douglass Mackey.
The AWM Blog tracks white nationalists, Neo-Nazis, Red Pillers, and other members of the alt-right movement. It’s video of Nick Fuentes, America First nationalist with a YouTube show that has 11,000 followers and says he’s a contributor at the ‘unofficial Trump TV,’ Right Side Broadcasting Network called Nehlen “an idiot. A stupid guy.” Fuentes had been a Nehlen supporter until, he said, “he made himself a liability to everybody who supported him, Steve Bannon, Ann Coulter, Donald Trump himself and me …”
And Nehlen was banned from Gab for doxxing Vaughn.
“We can’t be known as the place where people get doxxed,” founder Andrew Torba said. “This is a business decision …our kindness can only be stretched so far …”
Torba, a Trump supporter who claimed on Facebook to have “helped meme a President into office, cucks,” created Gab.ai a social networking site for the alt-right, neo- Nazis, white supremacists, anti-Semites and the like.
Gab rebuked this via tweet to this reporter moments after the story was published requesting a “retraction.”
4. Nehlen Committed Election Fraud & Then Interfered With a Police Investigation
On primary election day in August of 2016, Nehlen took a ‘ballot selfie,’ and posted it to his Twitter. Tweeting the image is against the law in Wisconsin as it is in 16 other states. It was reported to Town of Delavan Police.
The Walworth County District Attorney’s Office said that Nehlen wiped the evidence away by doing a factory reset and replacing the SIM card in his phone. The police had a charge prepared, election fraud, a felony. And while the prosecutor agreed Nehlen technically violated the law, they didn’t charge him saying he “ignorantly posted the image to draw attention to his candidacy” and wasn’t selling his vote.
But the police had spent two months dealing with Nehlen’s attempts to “conceal the contents of his phone” which interfered with their investigation.
Nehlen refused to cooperate with police, they said, but the candidate denied that. In a statement to local media he said he “fully cooperated” and “promptly turned over the phone” and the “oversight with the SIM card was just that.” The SIM card was delivered when it was later requested.”
Police refute his assertions but the matter never went further.
5. Once Embraced by Bannon, Breitbart & Trump, Some Have Backed Away. Alt-Right Activists Also Question ‘Shady’ Campaign Finances
Nehlen was warmly embraced by then candidate Donald Trump, who vacillated about his feelings, and support, for Ryan. But Trump praised Nehlen not for his politics but for being nice to Trump when the candidate was being criticized for attacking the Khan family.
Trump tweeted his gratitude after Nehlen posted, “Paul Ryan AGAIN Misrepresents Trump Position, This Time on ‘Religious Test’ Brouhaha,” per Politico.
But Steve Bannon and Breitbart, former Nehlen backer’s, dumped him when Nehlen confidently began to post anti-Semitic and racist tweets and memes and picking fights, threatening and ultimately, getting banned from Twitter.
In addition to being abandoned by a faction in the alt-right on the grounds that his rhetoric was not helpful, he also had another problem within the white nationalist alt-right. A money problem.
As of Dec. 31, 2017, for the 2018 election cycle, it’s reported Nehlen had raised $160,000, spent $125,000 and had $68,000 cash-on-hand. (Ryan reported as of March 31 he’d raised $11 million, spent almost $10 million and still had more than $10 million cash-on-hand.)
In the 2016 campaign, Nehlen spent more on airline flights than on media, paid out tens of thousands of dollars to out-of-state consultants, including a media company that produced a left-wing documentary.
But for the white nationalists on Gab and others on the alt-right, paying his wife out of campaign funds while not acceptable, was even worse a sin because his wife is Hispanic. Some on Gab call her “an Aztec” and racially charged and derogatory names.
According to Media Trackers, Nehlen paid his wife Gabriela Lira $13,000 in installments and was reimbursed for expenses (less than $1,000). Nehlen called the money a “meager stipend.”
“God blessed me with a wife who is strong in her faith, supportive of my efforts to Make America First Again, so I’m thankful for the Republicans who came before me passing laws to making it possible to make a meager stipend possible,” Nehlen said.
A recent recording posted to Twitter by a self-described racist called, ‘A Actual Racist,’ Nehlen gets lambasted for paying his wife out of campaign coffers and it’s argued in the recording that since Nehlen “can’t win” he shouldn’t be “taking money from people under false pretenses.” The references to Nehlen begin at 8:40 on the audio. Be forewarned that for many, this recording, with racist and anti-Semitic discourse contains offensive language.
It’s not clear who is on the Nehlen bandwagon now, but it’s likely that will soon change as it appears Nehlen is in the race and plans to remain there.