Three months in because the Home GOP convention’s new chairwoman, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) plans to take the stage subsequent week with a MAGA operative who has an extremist previous and performed a key position in “Cease the Steal” efforts to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory.
The operative, Virginia native Scott Presler, has a years-long historical past of extremist activism, together with serving as a top strategist for a company that the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center deemed the most important anti-Muslim hate group in the USA. Presler, who in 2017 stunted for disgraced Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Decide Roy Moore, additionally helped arrange a number of “Cease the Steal” protests main as much as the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol. He later attended the riot, describing it because the “largest civil rights protest in American historical past” alongside video footage.
The joint look with Stefanik, slated for an Aug. 25 rally and voter registration drive in Saratoga, New York, highlights the four-term Republican’s ongoing pivot to an extremist MAGA base nonetheless enthralled with ex-President Donald Trump and the notion that the 2020 election was unfairly determined.
Stefanik, who for years each campaigned and voted as a right-of-center Republican, has pivoted to fully embrace the Trump wing of her social gathering. In January she challenged the Electoral School outcomes and later voted in opposition to a Jan. 6 fee. Most not too long ago, Stefanik drew backlash for pushing false narratives concerning the tried riot.
On a private stage, nevertheless, that pivot seems to have paid off.
In Could, when Home Republicans booted anti-Trump Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) as GOP convention chair, Stefanik landed the place—and touted Presler’s endorsement alongside the best way.
Presler, 30, has usually skated beneath the headlines, however his social media extremist activism dates again years and, fueled by his 830,000-follower Twitter account, has attracted sufficient consideration to spur protests at his occasions.
In 2014, Presler, who’s brazenly homosexual, stumped for Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s marketing campaign, and two years later backed Trump’s 2016 presidential bid. Then, from 2017 to 2018, he labored as a strategist for ACT for America, a company SPLC has designated as an anti-Muslim hate group.
In accordance with SPLC, ACT “pushes wild anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, denigrates American Muslims” and deliberately commingles mainstream and radical Islamic beliefs. Extremist watchdog ADL says the group “stokes irrational fears” about Muslims and “traffics in paranoia that vilifies the American Muslim neighborhood.”
In his position at ACT, Presler took the lead in organizing a nationwide sequence of “March In opposition to Sharia” rallies in mid-2017. Because the group’s Fb administrator, he oversaw what SPLC characterized as a “plentiful” outpouring of “racist and violent content material,” collaborated with avowed neo-Nazi Billy Roper, and co-organized a rally with Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson in Portland, Oregon, which the town finally canceled.
NPR reported that Roper stated on a podcast forward of the deliberate Arkansas march that “we wish to ship a message to Muslims that they aren’t welcome in our communities,” and “finally we wish to ship a message to Muslims that they don’t seem to be welcome in our nation and, in fact, endgame, on our planet.” When SPLC flagged Roper’s involvement, ACT canceled the occasion, saying it “turned conscious that the organizer is related to white supremacist teams,” in keeping with an announcement.
“That is in opposition to all of our values.” the assertion stated. (Roper’s spouse posted emails Roper and Presler had exchanged earlier, through which Presler advised Roper, “You’re authorised and able to go.”)
Nonetheless, various fascist and militia groups have been reportedly present at “March In opposition to Sharia” occasions. These teams include members of white id organizations Id Evropa and Vanguard America, each of which later performed roles in 2017’s lethal “Unite the Proper” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In 2019, Twitter suspended Presler’s account after he posted, “Black lives murdered by felony unlawful aliens don’t matter,” which the web site stated violated its guidelines in opposition to hateful conduct. And that summer time, Pressler launched into a concern trolling venture to ostensibly clear up trash in West Baltimore, on the time represented by the late Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), after Trump tweeted that the district was a “rodent infested mess.”
Presler later took that present on the street, popping as much as supposedly clear up streets in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Kenosha, Wisconsin. The San Francisco outlet Mission Local described Presler’s crew “filming trash, needles, and feces—and asking homeless folks whether or not the federal government ought to prioritize their wants over immigrants.”
Whereas Presler denies these clean-up stunts had something to do with politics, he has an specific parallel political historical past.
In 2017, Presler went to bat for Decide Roy Moore, a Republican Senate candidate in Alabama who was on the time underneath hearth for allegations of child molestation. After the allegations surfaced, Presler sprang to Moore’s protection for weeks—pushing false claims concerning the accusations, pumping up Moore surrogate Steve Bannon’s assertions that the disgraced decide had “honor and integrity,” and trying to discredit the victims.
“This Roy Moore accuser has a ‘violent nature’ and was arrested on a felony cost for forging checks,” Presler tweeted on Nov. 17. He additionally tweeted multiple times a couple of ballot displaying that 71 p.c of Alabama Republicans believed the allegations are false. “Voters know the distinction between unsubstantiated allegations versus photographic proof of Al Franken molesting a sleeping lady,” Presler wrote.
Moore misplaced the election to former Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL), the primary Democratic senator to symbolize the state in 20 years.
Final yr, Presler’s activism discovered him flirting with QAnon and COVID denialism. And after Trump’s election loss in November, he stepped into an organizing position for “Cease the Steal” rallies throughout the nation, together with in Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the place he held an interview with white nationalist conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec. That motion culminated within the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, which Presler vowed multiple times he would attend, heralding it because the “largest civil rights protest in American historical past.” He later tweeted footage of himself on the occasion.
Presler, who spoke at CPAC 2021 in Orlando, has devoted his 2021 to a nationwide tour geared toward unseating Trump dissenters within the GOP ranks. He aligned himself in that effort with Stefanik, who has simply defended her seat in a reliably conservative upstate district and has not but drawn a severe major opponent. However Stefanik’s ascendance to Home management has made her a prime goal for Democrats, who will attempt to exploit her radical drift amongst reasonable voters and have already begun pouring money into 2022 challengers.
And up to date social media posts counsel Presler has planted himself in Stefanik’s residence state of New York, the place he has been “harvesting” voter registrations, in keeping with an Aug. 15 Fb post. He additionally seems on the payroll for RISE NY PAC, the state-level PAC behind the upcoming Stefanik occasion.
That PAC paid Presler solely as soon as—$5,000 in June, in keeping with New York marketing campaign finance information. It’s listed as a “bonus.”