White nationalists take pro-Trump campaign above ground in Iowa

For months, white supremacist groups have been promoting Donald Trump for president on neo-Nazi websites like The Daily Stormer. Evan Osnos wrote a detailed piece on the phenomenon for The New Yorker in August. If you doubt that neo-Nazi is an appropriate label for the movement, read some of the responses Anna Merlan received from Trump’s white nationalist fans after she published about the same topic at Jezebel.

What had been mostly a stealth campaign to build support for Trump went above ground this weekend with a wave of robocalls to potential Iowa caucus-goers, paid for by the American National Super-PAC. Talking Points Memo posted the audio yesterday. I enclose the same audio clip and my transcript below, thanks to John Deeth, who received the audio file from an Iowan on January 9.

A pro-Trump radio ad campaign paid for by the same white nationalists is set to air on Des Moines Radio Group’s KPSZ-AM from January 12 through January 22. In a January 8 press release, the American Freedom Party’s presidential candidate Bob Whitaker

stated that he did not feel that his campaign is undermined by William Johnson’s efforts. “Our campaign slogan is ‘Diversity is a Code Word for White Genocide.’ Donald Trump’s campaign may help remind Americans that all genocide, even against white people, is evil. My campaign is there to help keep the candidates on point regarding race in America.”

MONDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: The Des Moines Radio Group ultimately declined to accept this ad placement. Scroll to the end for details.

Open Secrets does not yet have any donor information about the super-PAC, but in the call script, a man identifying himself as “William Johnson, a farmer and a white nationalist” says he paid for the robocalls. A statement of organization filed last week with the Federal Election Commission lists William Johnson as the super-PAC’s treasurer. No independent expenditure reports have been posted yet on the FEC’s website; those are supposed to be filed within 48 hours of an independent expenditure supporting or opposing a candidate. I will update this post if and when more details become available on how much money this PAC is spending to promote Trump’s candidacy. At this writing, I have not yet seen any comments from Trump or his campaign about the white nationalist effort to boost his support in the Iowa caucuses.

UPDATE: The Southern Poverty Law Center’s profile of the “uninspiring but determined white separatist” Johnson is worth reading in full. I’ve posted a few excerpts below. Although Johnson called himself a farmer on the robocall to Iowans, he spent a career as a corporate attorney.

As of Monday morning, Trump has still not commented on this story. He campaigned in Ottumwa on January 9.

UPDATE: The radio ads will be hour-long editions of the “For God and Country” programs, featuring Reverend Ronald Tan and William Johnson. Added more details on the ad campaign at the end of this post.

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