Politics & Government

Perennial NC candidate behind inflammatory ‘lynching’ ads targeting black voters

Campaign Ad: Black Americans for the President’s Agenda releases ad suggesting Sen. Claire McCaskill supports lynchings

Black Americans for the President's Agenda released a radio ad that insinuates that Sen. Claire McCaskill favors lynchings. "Black folk will be catching hell again," the ad said.
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Black Americans for the President's Agenda released a radio ad that insinuates that Sen. Claire McCaskill favors lynchings. "Black folk will be catching hell again," the ad said.

A long-time North Carolina politician, who was once dubbed the “black Jesse Helms,” is behind a pair of inflammatory ads seeking to scare black voters from voting for Democrats.

Vernon Robinson, a former Winston-Salem city council member and candidate for numerous offices, is the co-founder of Black Americans for the President’s Agenda, a political action committee. The group has taken out radio ads in Missouri and Arkansas that’s meant to be taken as two African-American women discussing the treatment of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kanvaugh.

Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault during his confirmation process. In Arkansas, the ads are in support of Republican Rep. French Hill, and in Missouri, the ads are in favor of Republican Senate candidate Josh Hawley, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in one of the key races for control of the Senate. The Hill and Hawley campaigns have said they do not support the ads.

A new ad attempts to sway black voters by suggesting that Sen. Claire McCaskill's pro-choice stance negatively impacts black babies.

In one ad airing in Missouri, a woman says: “Josh Hawley and the Republicans know that it’s dangerous to change the presumption of innocence to a presumption of guilt, especially for black men. If Claire McCaskill can do that to a white justice of the Supreme Court with no evidence, no corroboration and all of her witnesses, including her best friend, say it didn’t happen, what will happen to our husbands, our fathers or our sons when a white girl lies on them?”

The other voice says: “Girl, black folks will be catching hell again.”

And the first woman says: “Honey, I’ve always told my son, don’t be messing around with that. If you get caught, she will cry rape.”

The Arkansas ad ends: “We can’t afford to let white Democrats take us back to the bad old days of race verdicts, life sentences and lynchings when a white girl screams rape.”

A separate Missouri ad talks about abortion and says McCaskill, who is pro-choice, doesn’t care about black babies being aborted.

Robinson, who worked on Ben Carson’s failed 2016 presidential campaign, rejected the notion that the ads are racist.

“What’s racist about the ad? Nobody’s been able to tell me yet,” Robinson told McClatchy on Friday. “It’s an effective ad. Nobody cares about a wimpy ad. People only care about ads if they’re effective.”

Robinson said the ads are airing on urban contemporary stations. The group has raised nearly $143,000 according to federal election reports.

Robinson referenced “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Harper Lee’s iconic novel that centers on false allegations against an African-American man when discussing the allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford, a UNC graduate who alleged that Kavanaugh assaulted her at a party when they were teens.

“The greatest losers of the Kavanaugh travesty … are black men and the women who love them,” Robinson said.

Both Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford are white.

Robinson served on the Winston-Salem city council from 1997 to 2001 and has run for office in North Carolina several times.

He received less than 1,000 votes in a 17-way GOP primary in North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District in 2016. Robinson also ran for the U.S. House in North Carolina’s 8th district in 2012 and was the Republican nominee for state superintendent of public instruction in 1996.

The Winston-Salem Journal wrote that “Jesse Helms is back! This time, he’s black,” about Robinson when he was running for office in 2004. Robinson then adopted the moniker.

In a 2003 blog post, Robinson said “as a black Republican, I will be especially reviled by the Left. That’s because I will be able to say the kinds of things that many conservatives are afraid to say out of fear that the liberal media will brand them racist.”

He changed his political affiliation from Republican to Constitution Party this year, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. In a statement, he complained that neither of the major parties would “repeal Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood, stop the illegal alien invasion, prosecute those who use the intelligence services to attack an opposition party, balance the federal government or reduce the size and scope of government.”

Robinson was ranked as the nation’s 18th-most influential African-American in 2017 by Newsmax. He led a pro-Ben Carson super PAC in 2014 with aim of getting Carson to run for president in 2016. Carson did run, but bowed out of the race in March of 2016 without finishing in the top three in any state.