A pair of Republican congress members are distancing themselves from a far-right conspiracy theorist who posted pictures of herself with them at a recent fundraiser.
Laura Loomer is an anti-Muslim internet personality who, after getting booted from most social-media platforms for bigotry, launched a congressional campaign against Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL) this year. Although much of her campaign announcement described the race as a ploy to have her social-media accounts restored, Loomer has recently attempted to drum up support among more mainstream Republicans. This weekend, she posted pictures of herself at an event with Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL)—but both politicians say they didn’t invite her to the event, and didn’t even know who she is.
Loomer is banned from Uber, Uber Eats, Lyft, Venmo, GoFundMe, PayPal, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms for a variety of anti-Muslim tirades. But she still found an open door at a Palm Beach event hosted by Scott this weekend, where she snapped pictures with him and Stefanik.
In a post on Telegram (one of the only platforms from which Loomer has not been banned), she appeared to imply a friendly relationship with Stefanik.
“We are both going to be Adam Schiff’s worst nightmare when we are serving in Congress together. It was a pleasure spending the evening with Congresswoman Elise Stefanik at her fundraiser in my district, FL-21 tonight,” Loomer wrote, adding that Stefanik “is supporting Republican women running for Congress.”
But Loomer is not among those women, according to Stefanik.
“She didn’t know who she was,” the congresswoman’s spokesperson told The Daily Beast. “This photo was taken at an event hosted by Senator Rick Scott to highlight Congresswoman Stefanik's efforts promoting Republican women for Congress. She has taken photos with thousands of women over her 5 years in office. A photo is absolutely not an endorsement of a candidate or their views.”
A Scott spokesperson said the photo op was the senator’s first time meeting Loomer.
“The Senator had never met this person, that I’m aware of,” the spokesperson said. “She was not invited by the Senator or his team. He has not endorsed and is not endorsing any candidate.”
Neither office responded to questions on Loomer’s views.
Still, Loomer has received financial report from a number of major GOP donors, a Daily Dot report found. Among them is Cherna Moskowitz, who donated $2,800 in September, FEC filings show. Moskowitz’s late husband donated extensively to projects aimed at settling Jewish people in Muslim-majority neighborhoods in Jerusalem, and to anti-Obama groups that pushed hoaxes about the former president being a Muslim or born in Kenya. Another donor who gave Loomer $5,600 referred to Obama as a “Muslim n****er” in a tweet.
In total, Loomer has racked up approximately $154,000 in donations, and earned an endorsement from Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ). Her goal of forcing Facebook and Twitter to “reinstate” her social media accounts, however, seems less successful.
“People who have been banned from our services aren’t able to set up a new account even if they’re running for office,” a Facebook spokesperson recently told CNN.