Two Republican members of Congress who have previously been condemned for associating with a Holocaust denier were present with him again at one of their fundraisers in July, Mother Jones magazine reported Thursday.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California attended a fundraiser on a yacht in his home district for GOP colleague Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida on July 20. Also there was “alt-right” activist and internet troll Charles C. Johnson, who wrote on Reddit last year that he did not believe that the Auschwitz gas chambers were real or that six million Jews died. Johnson says he is not a Holocaust denier and that his statement was made as part of a free speech exercise. But he also helped raise funds for the legal defense of neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin. He has also been permanently banned from Twitter for violating its rules against harassment.
Both members of Congress have claimed that their prior run-ins with Johnson were unplanned.
Rohrabacher was slammed by the Anti-Defamation League for inviting Johnson to a meeting at the Capitol in November with Sen. Rand Paul to discuss the fate of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Rohrabacher replied in a letter to the ADL that Johnson wasn’t invited to the meeting, but wasn’t asked to leave.
Gaetz was similarly criticized for giving Johnson a guest ticket to the State of the Union address in February. Gaetz said after the speech that he didn’t know Johnson, who he claimed had just shown up at his office and asked if he had an extra ticket.
Sources told Mother Jones that Johnson and Rohrabacher were present at the Gaetz fundraiser. “I don’t remember who invited him there,” a Rohrabacher campaign official said. When asked if Gaetz had invited Johnson, a Gaetz campaign official said, “It was a private event and you’re welcome to check the FEC reports to see who donated.” Johnson did not respond to Mother Jones’s requests for comment.
The fundraiser was co-hosted by California PR guru Alfred Balitzer on his yacht. Johnson has said that Balitzer, who is Jewish, is his “mentor.” Johnson has also written on Facebook that Rohrabacher is his “friend and adopted congressman.”
“It is completely inappropriate for a sitting U.S. member of Congress to continue to knowingly associate with an anti-Semite and bigot like Charles Johnson,” an ADL spokesman said.