One of far-right Rep Paul Gosar’s top aides pledged his loyalty to white supremacist Nick Fuentes, report finds

A staff member for the Arizona congressman allegedly has ties to the neo-fascist pundit and ‘groyper’ movement

Alex Woodward
New York
Monday 15 May 2023 18:15 BST
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Related video: Paul Gosar accuses Democrats of ‘squealing and screaming’ over doctored anime video showing him killing AOC

Extensive digital footprints have linked staff members for Republican US Rep Paul Gosar to social media accounts belonging to prolific supporters of virulently antisemitic white supremacist Nick Fuentes.

Social media accounts, photographs and posts on far-right platforms and other websites uncovered by Talking Points Memo and researchers who study far-right movements have connected the congressman’s digital director Wade Searle to accounts belonging to a prominent Fuentes acolyte.

The posts, which appeared both before and after Mr Searle began working as a government employee for one of the most far-right members of Congress, include an account reportedly belonging to Mr Searle pledging his allegiance to Fuentes, the 24-year-old neo-fascist pundit central to a cult-like authoritarian movement of mostly young men.

On his streaming channel in May 2022, Fuentes called on his supporters to pledge “undying” allegiance to the “white race, my nation America, and my savior Jesus Christ, and my loyalty to the America First movement, Nicholas J Fuentes.” An account reportedly belonging to Mr Searle did so with a flurry of emoji in an accompanying live chat and donated $150.

By that point, Mr Searle had been working for Mr Gosar for six months.

Mr Searle is allegedly behind “Chicken Right” or “Chikken” and “Right Wing Chicken Wing” accounts across several platforms promoting content affiliated with the so-called “groyper” movement, TPM discovered. Photographs on those accounts also appear to show Mr Searle posing with Fuentes and other far-right influencers at a “Stop The Steal” rally in Phoenix, Arizona, in 2020.

According to congressional records, Mr Searle was hired in November 2021, the same month that the congressman was censured and removed from his committee assignments for posting a video to his Twitter account that edited himself into the anime beheading Democratic US Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Mr Searle was hired roughly one week after the video was posted and officially joined Mr Gosar’s staff one day after the censure vote.

One day later, on 19 November, 2021, Mr Gosar opened an account on the platform Gab, known for its far-right userbase and a haven for conspiracy theories and antisemitism. An account allegedly belonging to Mr Searle with the ChickenRight branding began promoting Mr Gosar’s posts shortly thereafter.

Mr Gosar continues to promote his Gab account on Twitter.

On Twitter and Gab, “ChickenRight” accounts posted statements and graphics suggesting trans people are “pedophiles,” claimed women should not join the workforce, minimised slavery, amplified the so-called “great replacement” conspiracy theory and made bigoted statements about Black people, Jewish people and other racial minorities, TPM reported.

Fuentes also has shared content from “ChickenRight”-linked accounts reportedly belonging to Mr Searle, and a “ChickenRight”-linked account moderated a streaming show hosted by Fuentes.

The digital trail for “ChickenRight”-affiliated accounts also suggests that Landen Petersen, an intern with Mr Gosar’s office, was involved, according to TPM.

A “ChickenRight”-affiliated account on Twitter was credited to “Wade” and “Landen.” “Landen” was identified as the page’s “founder,” TPM reported. A linked Instagram account advertised an appearance from “Wade” and “Landen” on a livestream, and another account included what appeared to be Mr Peterson’s photo and a mention that “rightwingchickenwing” was his “second account.” An affiliated TikTok account lists “2 admins”, “L” and “W.”

The Independent has requested comment from Mr Gosar’s office and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

“If true, it’s deeply disturbing that [Mr Gosar’s] digital director is reportedly behind a secret ‘Groyper army’ account and an active supporter of white supremacist leader Nick Fuentes,” the Anti-Defamation League said in response to the report.

“This needs a full investigation,” the group stated. “Hate and extremism have no place in government – at any level.”

Paul Gosar’s embrace of far-right extremism

The seven-term Arizona Republican has a longer history of ties to conspiracy theories and extremism, from his more-recent use of far-right and neo-Nazi-linked content to support for anti-government racist Cliven Bundy in 2014 and his suggestion that the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia was funded by George Soros. Following that claim, his siblings accused him of sounding an “antisemitic dog whistle”.

In 2020, he voted against a resolution to condemn QAnon after appearing at events tied to the far-reaching conspiratorial movement.

Mr Gosar has also previously tried to evade his connections to Fuentes.

In February 2021, he delivered a keynote address at the America First Political Action Committee conference hosted by Fuentes, marking the first appearance of a sitting member of Congress at the event, where Fuentes reportedly told attendees that “white people are done being bullied” and praised the January 6 attack on the US Capitol as “awesome”.

Later that year, Mr Gosar appeared to defend a fundraiser for his congressional campaign advertised by Fuentes. “Not sure why anyone is freaking out,” Mr Gosar wrote on Twitter. “I’ll say this: there are millions of Gen Z, Y and X conservatives. They believe in America First. They will not agree 100% on every issue. No group does. We will not let the left dictate our strategy, alliances and efforts. Ignore the left.”

An ad for the event says it was “paid for by Nicholas Fuentes and authorized by Gosar for Congress Committee”, but the congressman told CNN that he had “no idea what’s going on” and that there was “no fundraiser that I know of.”

Mr Gosar has continued to downplay the violence at the US Capitol on January 6, sent out a fundraising message suggesting that the FBI “might have had a hand in planning and carrying out”, and has supported Donald Trump’s call for the “termination” of the US Constitution – a message that the former president later retreated from.

Paul Gosar was one of two members of Congress who joined the Hungarian edition of the far-right Conservative Political Action Conference in May 2023.
Paul Gosar was one of two members of Congress who joined the Hungarian edition of the far-right Conservative Political Action Conference in May 2023. (EPA)

Meanwhile, his Twitter account has repeatedly echoed the meme culture that has emerged from far-right platforms.

In October 2021, Mr Gosar tweeted and then deleted a meme that superimposed himself into a format that is popular among neo-Nazis sharing images of Nazi Germany.

Another since-deleted tweet from Mr Gosar’s account on Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2022 includes a “Dark MAGA” meme that appeared to reference the approximate number of Jewish people killed during the Holocaust.

Last month, Mr Gosar promoted a neo-Nazi website in his newsletter, which included a link to an article about him but removed the headline’s obvious antisemitism.

The newsletter included several links to stories about himself, one of which was titled “Congressman Gosar: Warmongers Nuland & Blinken ‘Are Dangerous Fools Who Can Get Us All Killed’”; the actual headline in the link to the antisemitic, conspiracy theory-filled website reads “Congressman: Jewish warmongers Nuland & Blinken ‘Are Dangers Fools Who Can Get Us All Killed’”.

In recent days, Mr Gosar’s congressional Twitter account has repeatedly referred to people arriving at the US-Mexico border as an “invasion” and a “national suicide,” nods to the so-called “great replacement” conspiracy theory among white nationalists that Democratic officials are intentionally replacing white Americans by loosening immigration policies.

Mr Gosar, who was endorsed by Mr Trump, won re-election in 2022 and his committee assignments were restored in the Republican-controlled House.

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