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Dozens of Elected Republicans Attended Hate Group Event Last Week: Extremism is at the Center of the GOP

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Dozens of elected members of congress participated in a radio event organized by a hate group to amplify dangerous disinformation and white nationalist lies

Over two days in late September, just weeks from the midterm elections, dozens of elected Republican officials joined right-wing talk shows from across the nation for an annual event organized by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) to peddle nativism, disinformation, and white nationalist conspiracy theories. A Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) designated hate group, FAIR, was founded by white nationalist John Tanton. Republicans used the event to push their false narratives about open borders, fentanyl, and an alleged ‘invasion’ at the southern border. 

This annual event used to be seen as an outlier, one of the most extreme, anti-immigrant nativist gatherings tinged with white nationalism, and even some Republicans avoided it.. Now, it’s very much a gathering that demonstrates division, hate and racism are very much at the center of the Republican party.

The borders are not open. Fentanyl is not an immigration issue. And the idea that asylum seekers and refugees constitute a military-style invasion would be laughable if this white nationalist conspiracy didn’t already have a significant body count. This replacement and invasion theory has inspired multiple domestic terrorists to take the lives of dozens over the last few years from Charlottesville in 2017, to Pittsburgh in 2018, to El Paso in 2019, to the Capitol in 2021, and in Buffalo in May of this year. However, the lack of facts and the deadly white nationalist associations did not deter these Republicans. In fact, it attracted them.

FAIR and John Tanton worked for decades to push the replacement and invasion racist fiction from the margins into the mainstream. As one example, the same year, 1994, Tanton published his “The Immigration Invasion”; he published an English translation of the French ‘replacement’ novel, “The Camp of the Saints.” Now, these conspiracies have been adopted by the GOP as an organizing principle, with elected Republicans and leading surrogates echoing them at FAIR’s event this year and in campaign ads and on numerous right-wing media outlets. 

At the event, Rep. Greg Steube (FL-17) recorded a video for FAIR where he promoted the invasion conspiracy. Rep. Paul Gosar (AZ-04) used the event to promote the invasion conspiracy as well. 

 The President of the Border Patrol union and leading GOP midterm surrogate, Brandon Judd, also participated. He called the migrants at the border a “weapon of mass destruction” and called on Governors to “declare invasion” in hopes of turning the white nationalist conspiracy theory into official policy and allowing governors to declare war on migrants. 

Trump’s Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, Ken Cuccinelli, a failed candidate for Governor in Virginia some years ago, attended. Cuccinelli has been a leading proponent pushing invasion declarations. Former Trump administration officials Chad Wolf, Jeff Sessions, Mark Morgan, and Tony Pham also participated. 

Brigitte Gabriel, the founder of the SPLC designated hate-group, ACT for America, was also there. For her part, she promoted a replacement and invasion conspiracy petition that called to “stop the invasion” and falsely warned that the number of migrants “could literally replace the entire state population in any of these states.” Her petition also promoted Rep. Jodey Arrington’s (TX-19) statement bill that claims that non-white migrants constitute a literal “invasion.” A bill that now has 67 Republican co-sponsors. 

 The elected Republican members of Congress who attended the hate-group organized event included: 

  • Sen. Ron Johnson (WI) 
  • Rep. Ted Budd, North Carolina Senate candidate 
  • Sen. Chuck Grassley (IA)
  • Sen. Joni Ernst (IA)
  • Sen. Tom Cotton (AR)
  • Sen. John Boozman (AR) 
  • Sen. Josh Hawley (MO)
  • Sen.  Mike Lee (UT)
  • Sen. Tommy Tuberville (AL)
  • Sen. Todd Young (IN)
  • Rep. Jim Jordan (OH-04)
  • Rep. Russ Fulcher (ID-01)
  • Rep. Andy Biggs (AZ-05)
  • Rep. Dan Newhouse (WA-04)
  • Rep. Greg Steube (FL-19)
  • Rep. Tom Tiffany (WI-07)
  • Rep. Jerry Carl (AL-01) 
  • Rep. Diana Harshbarger (TN-01)  
  • Rep.Brian Babin (TX-34)
  • Rep. Robert Aderholt (AL-04)
  • Rep. Bruce Westerman (AR-04)
  • Rep. Paul Gosar (AZ-04)
  • Rep Jim Bank (IN-03)
  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA-14)
  • Rep. Andrew Clyde (GA-09)
  • Rep. Michael Cloud (TX-27) 
  • Rep. John Rose (TN-06)
  • Rep. Buddy Carter (GA-01) 
  • Rep. Gary Palmer (AL-06)
  • Rep. Chris Stewart (UT-02)
  • Rep. Bob Good (VA-05)
  • Fmr U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo

America’s Voice also identified four sheriffs at the FAIR event, including Idaho Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue, Texas Brooks City Sheriff Benny Martinez, Arizona Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb, and Sheriff Mark Dannels of Arizona, Cochise County, who also cut a video for FAIR at the event. However, there were likely many more sheriffs who participated in the FAIR radio event.