A week after racial hatred was blamed for a mass murder in El Paso, a new ad attempts to link Republican Dan Bishop to white supremacists by highlighting his investment in a social media platform used by extremists.
The potentially incendiary ad from a group called Stand Up Republic comes a month before the special 9th Congressional District election between Bishop, Democrat Dan McCready and two third-party candidates.
“Remember when neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville and killed a young woman?” a narrator says over graphic images from the 2017 rally. “When they were banned from social media, Dan Bishop took their side. In fact he invested in a social media website because it welcomed the white supremacists.”
The ad is one of four scheduled to run digitally and on TV. Stand Up Republic and the American Values PAC are spending $500,000 to run them in the final weeks of the campaign.
“Dan McCready was already running the most dishonest campaign in America but this ad is a new low filled with libelous, defamatory slander and any media outlet that publishes or broadcasts it should prepare to join the ad’s sponsors in defending it in court,” Bishop said Monday in a statement.
The ad that starts Monday refers to Bishop’s 2017 investment of $500 in Gab, a site that billed itself as a free speech platform. It has become popular with white supremacists including the alleged killer of 11 people at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue in 2018.
Bishop’s involvement was first reported last year in the Daily Mail. It cited a 2017 Facebook post in which he said, “I’m about done with SF [San Francisco] thought police tech giants’ Big Brother routine, and so ... I just invested in a free-speech social network startup mentioned in a Washington Post article today, Gab.ai. Free markets are the answer to many kinds of tyranny.”
Last year Bishop acknowledged making the crowdfunding investment in Gab, a start-up that promoted itself as an unbiased social media platform.
“I don’t use Gab, but if its management allows its users to promote violence, antisemitism, and racism on the platform they have misled investors and they will be gone quickly, and rightfully so,” he said at the time.
Evan McMullin, a 2016 independent presidential candidate and founder of the non-profit behind the new ad, said his group is “committed to uniting Americans across the political spectrum to defend and strengthen American democracy.”
Last week BuzzFeed News reported that Amazon Web Services shut down Gab’s fundraising site after learning of its extremist content.
Bishop’s investment in Gab became an issue in his re-election race last year in Senate District 39.
In response to the investment, Chad Stachowicz, Bishop’s Democratic opponent, said in a statement last year that it “helped spread white nationalist content . . . Dan Bishop should have known he was playing with fire.” Bishop won by 6 percentage points.
White supremacy has been blamed not only for the shootings in El Paso and Pittsburgh but mass killings elsewhere, including New Zealand, where 51 people were gunned down in a Christchurch mosque. Last week Morning Consult/Politico poll found 47% of voters said they see white nationalism as a threat.
Speaking about the mass shootings last week in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, President Donald Trump said, “(O)ur nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy. . . . Hate has no place in America.” But several Democratic presidential candidates have called Trump a white supremacist and said he’s encouraged extremism.
The other ads in the buy feature two Republicans offering testimonials to McCready: Republican Bob Orr, a former state Supreme Court justice, and Beth Monaghan, who ran unsuccessfully against Bishop in last year’s state Senate primary.