Paul Gosar faces calls for investigations after allegedly hiring Nick Fuentes-linked congressional staff
An alleged white nationalist who pledged his loyalty to Nick Fuentes has reportedly been working for US Rep Paul Gosar for nearly two years.
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 congressional staffer Wade Searle to accounts belonging to a prominent and prolific Fuentes acolyte.
The Republican congressman from Arizona has previously tried to evade ties to Fuentes, a 24-year-old neo-fascist pundit seen as the leader of an authoritarian “groyper” movement of mostly young men.
In February 2021, Mr Gosar 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, and he appeared to defend a fundraiser for his congressional campaign advertised by Fuentes later that same year.
“Unfortunately, this seems to be part of a pattern for Congressman Paul Gosar,” according to a statement with the Republican Jewish Coalition shared with The Independent. “Nick Fuentes is a vile antisemite who trafficks in nauseating Jew hatred ... Fuentes’ brand of bilious rhetoric has absolutely no place in the Republican Party or in the halls of Congress.”
Mr Searle is allegedly behind accounts across several social media platforms promoting content affiliated with the so-called “groyper” movement, according to a trove of evidence reviewed by Talking Points Memo, Arizona Right Wing Watch and The Informant. 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.
During a House Oversight Committee hearing on 16 May, Democratic US Rep Jasmine Crockett of Texas lambasted reports that “a staff member who is working for a Republican on this committee who has ties with and supports a white nationalist who has proclaimed himself to be ‘just like Hitler’.”
“I don’t really know what to say, except for the fact that this is a farce,” she said.
Kyle Herrig, executive director of activist watchdog group the Congressional Integrity Project, has also called the committee’s chair James Comer to remove Mr Gosar and demand that Mr Gosar fire Mr Searle.
“The American people deserve better than to have white supremacists running around the halls of Congress as members and staffers,” Mr Herrig said in a statement.
“Comer continues to claim he is trying to conduct credible and serious investigations with the House Oversight Committee, but his tacit acceptance of white supremacists completely contradicts his claims,” he added. “If James Comer had a single ounce of integrity or credibility in his body, he would demand Rep Gosar fire his staffer and remove Gosar from his committee.”
Mr Searle was first hired by Mr Gosar in November 2021 and has been working as his digital director since May of last year.
Mr Gosar, one of the most far-right members of Congress, has not yet addressed the findings on social media or otherwise. Fuentes also has not discussed the report; he said he was “not feeling well” on Monday night and did not go on his livestream.
Mr Gosar, Mr Searle and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy did not return The Independent’s requests for comment.
Mr Gosar, a seven-term congressman, has a long history of ties to conspiracy theories and far-right extremism, including a social media presence that amplifies white supremacist and neo-Nazi-linked content and memes.
The same month that Mr Searle was hired, Mr Gosar was censured by House lawmakers and removed from his committee assignments after a video posted to his Twitter account edited himself into the anime Attack on Titan beheading Democratic US Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
After Republicans won a majority in the House in the midterm elections last year, Mr Gosar was reinstated to his committee assignments.
Alan Zeichick, board chairman for the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Phoenix, said in a statement to the Arizona Republic that the revelations are neither “shocking nor surprising.”
“Rep Gosar remains an embarrassment to the state of Arizona,” he added. “This certainly isn’t the first time Rep Gosar has embraced neo-Nazis. We presume it won’t be the last.”
.@hunterw reports a congressional staffer for Rep. Paul Gosar is a prominent follower of neo-Nazi Nick Fuentes.
"There's really extensive links, and this is not just a some run-of-the-mill follower of Nick Fuentes. This is also someone who was in internal leadership chats." pic.twitter.com/4D80Utx39E
— All In with Chris Hayes (@allinwithchris) May 16, 2023
The organisation’s president Paul Rockower said any statement from Mr Gosar claiming to affirm his support for Jewish people would be meaningless at this point.
“We are tired of his gaslighting,” he told the Arizona Republic. “There have been way too many of these incidents for us to believe it and we don’t accept it.”
The Anti-Defamation League said the revelations from Talking Points Memo deserve a congressional investigation.
“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 group said in a statement.
“This needs a full investigation,” the group stated. “Hate and extremism have no place in government – at any level.”