GOP Rep Defends Bringing White Supremacist To State Of The Union

"I don’t have an ideological purity test," said Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz in defense of his decision to bring a member of the alt-right to the State of the Union.

Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz actually invited a white supremacist to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday.

According to The Hill, Gaetz said he invited the alt-right member, Chuck Johnson, after he “showed up at my office.” The congressman insisted he had no prior relationship with Johnson, and the only reason he had an extra ticket to bring him was because his father — whom he initially planned to bring — had come down with bronchitis.

Gaetz said “another member [of Congress] sent Chuck to me to talk about cannabis and cryptocurrency. So in walks this guy, younger than me, redhead, and we got to talking.”

The congressman failed to identify the alleged colleague who brought Johnson to him.

“He kind of got the sense of what was going on. He kept mentioning his interest in the president laying out his agenda,” Gaetz recounted.

“Hey, I’ve just got an extra ticket to the State of the Union. Would you like to go,” Gaetz recalled asking.

“I’d be honored,” Johnson replied.

However, Johnson’s account of how he slithered his way into the event is a bit different. He claimed he was invited by several members of Congress and he chose to accept Gaetz’s because “he’s into stuff on the issues that I care about,” such as marijuana and bitcoin.

To clarify, Johnson isn’t at all shy about his affiliation with the alt-right, so it isn’t likely that Gaetz didn’t know who was accompanying him to this major political event.

Johnson runs a crowdfunding site that raises money for the legal fees of the Daily Stormer, which is a well-known white nationalist media source. Furthermore, while he doesn’t consider himself a Holocaust denier, he does insist that the number of victims is much lower than the widely-stated total, and he questions whether gas chambers were actually used at the Nazi concentration camps.

Another red flag for Gaetz should have been the moment that Capitol Police were alarmed by Johnson's presence when the congressman was submitting his information as a gallery guest. 

“Capitol Police called us immediately and said they wanted to speak to my guest. Not about any challenges or something related to the State of the Union, but they thought he could help them on some other matter,” Gaetz said.

Gaetz admitted, however, that he didn't ask the Capitol Police what the issue was, and the pair carried on normally after Johnson was cleared. 

“I don’t only associate with people who hold all my views,” Gaetz said in defense of his outing with Johnson. “I have friends on the right and the left. I don’t have an ideological purity test.”

Be that as it may, palling around with white supremacists — especially during the current tense political and racial climate — speaks volumes about which side of history Gaetz stands on.

Banner / Thumbnail : Reuters

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