Days after McGeachin’s appearance at white nationalist event, Little, Idaho GOP respond
Ian Max Stevenson, Idaho Statesman
BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — Four days after Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin appeared virtually at a political conference organized by a white nationalist — an event featuring speakers known for making antisemitic and other hateful comments — Gov. Brad Little and the Idaho Republican Party issued statements condemning racism and white supremacy Tuesday.
“It is extremely unfortunate anyone in elected office in Idaho must make statements like these,” Little wrote in posts on Facebook and Twitter. “But let me be clear — I fully reject racism in all its forms.”
Little’s office did not immediately respond Tuesday as to the timing of the governor’s comments or respond to a question about whether they were directly referring to McGeachin, who was not mentioned by name in his statement.
Idaho’s Republican Party chairman, Tom Luna, also issued a statement condemning hatred and bigotry. The party’s release referenced “Lieutenant Governor McGeachin’s participation in this event.”
“White supremacy, antisemitism, bigotry, and neo-Nazism are reprehensible and have no place in the Idaho Republican Party,” Luna said. “The promotion of hatred, bigotry, or the anti-American values of Russia is fundamentally incompatible with our shared conservative ideals and values.”
On Monday, the Idaho Democratic Party sent a letter to the state GOP asking the party to condemn McGeachin’s participation in the event, saying anything less was “complicity.”
On Friday evening, McGeachin addressed the America First Political Action Conference, a gathering positioned as an alternative to the more well-known Conservative Political Action Conference. The annual AFPAC, as it is referred to, is organized by Nick Fuentes, a well-known white nationalist who attended the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and participated in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.
“Congratulations on your third annual event, and keep up the good work fighting for our country,” McGeachin said in her video appearance, which was recorded. “I thank you all for your efforts, I thank you for joining our efforts, and together we will fight to make Idaho great again.”
Fuentes is a frequent political commentator and livestreamer who has previously said that women should not vote, according to The Guardian; avowed his support for the U.S. preserving its “white demographic core”; and called “transgenderism” and same-sex marriage “deviancy.” He has suggested that the Holocaust did not happen, and accused a conservative political blogger of “work(ing) for Jews.”
At Friday’s conference, Fuentes asked the crowd to applaud Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose forces invaded Ukraine on Thursday.
“Now they’re going on about Russia and Vladimir Putin is Hitler — they say that’s not a good thing,” he said, according to The Washington Post.
Some attendees responded with a chant of “Putin! Putin!”
McGeachin released a statement Saturday afternoon saying she has “never supported identity politics or other discriminatory views.”
In an interview with KTVB on Monday, McGeachin said she does not know who Fuentes is, and looked him up online only after the conference had occurred.
“I’ve never met him,” she said.
She added, “(The media) do(es) this to conservatives all the time. … Any time there is any kind of affiliation with anybody at any time on any stage, that we’re all guilty by association, and it’s not appropriate.”
Other speakers at Friday’s conference made antisemitic and racist statements, according to media reports.
One speaker, Andrew Torba, the CEO of a social media company, told attendees that “God Rebukes the Synagogue of Satan,” according to the Anti-Defamation League. Another speaker, Jesse Lee Peterson, said, “I may not know your country, but I know Black people, and their hearts are filled with evil,” according to the ADL.
The Associated Press defines white nationalists as those who believe in enhanced legal rights or protections for white people, or advocate for a separate territory for white people. The AP defines white supremacists as those who believe white people are superior and that suppression of other ethnic groups is legitimate.
CALL FOR MCGEACHIN’S RESIGNATION
A recently formed political action committee called for McGeachin’s resignation on Saturday.
In a statement, the group, Take Back Idaho, said “McGeachin’s participation in AFPAC shows that she is openly courting the most extreme fringes of society — including QAnon conspiracy theorists, January 6 insurrectionists, white nationalists and Holocaust deniers — on a national stage.”
“She’s unfit to hold her current office,” the group added.
On Sunday, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, dubbed two far-right members of Congress who spoke at AFPAC — Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Georgia, and Paul Gosar, R-Arizona — “morons.”
“I have to think anybody that would sit down with white nationalists and speak at their conference was certainly missing a few IQ points,” he told CNN.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, also condemned white supremacy on Monday, while U.S. Rep Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, called the appearance of members of Congress at the event “unacceptable.”