David Reilly has already been disavowed by one school district. In August 2017, Pennsylvania’s Berwick School District cut ties with a radio station where Reilly worked after Reilly attended a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In the ensuing years, Reilly tweeted that women’s voting rights were “a mistake,” that women should not be allowed on social media, that more Americans should believe antisemitic stereotypes, that “Judaism is the religion of anti-Christ,” and that “all Jews are dangerous.”
Now Reilly is running for school board in Idaho—this time, with backing from a local GOP that doesn’t seem to mind his tweets.
Reilly’s candidacy for the Post Falls school board was first reported last week, by the website Angry White Men. Reilly, the site noted, is a longtime fixture of the far right. In 2017, while working for a Pennsylvania radio station that his father owned, he attended the deadly Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville.
“Good morning. The #AltRight slept tight and #Antifa is still sleeping,” Reilly tweeted the morning of the event’s deadly car attack. “Probably hungover or dope-sick. See yall at Lee Park. #Unite the Right.”
While at the event, Reilly recorded a video of white supremacists marching by torchlight and uploaded the footage to his personal website, where he set the footage to music. His attendance soon sparked outrage from his Pennsylvania community, where local schools and businesses dropped ties with his radio station. Reilly soon resigned, issuing a statement that condemned racism.
Although he now claims to have attended Unite The Right as a member of the media, foes on the right and left have questioned his account. In the days after the deadly rally, Reilly told Newswatch 16 that he had attended the event as a private citizen, not in his professional capacity with the radio station. During a feud between far-right factions last spring, the former leader of white nationalist Richard Spencer’s think tank told a white nationalist website that he had met Reilly at Unite The Right and on other occasions, and that he believed Reilly to be a member of the alt-right movement.
Opponents on the left, meanwhile, accused Reilly of failing to own up to his actions. Reilly attempted to sue some of those critics who called him a “racist,” a “bigot,” and a “white nationalist.” The case was dismissed last year.
While Reilly was leading lawsuits against people who accused him of racism, he was also rubbing shoulders with racists. Reilly has tweeted his support for the “groyper” movement, a far-right youth-focused scene, and attended one of the movement’s conferences last year. He also made multiple appearances on “Red Ice,” a far-right YouTube program that promotes white supremacist talking points.
Alongside his pro-groyper tweets, Reilly repeatedly denigrated women, Jewish people, and LGBT people on Twitter, Angry White Men first reported. “Jews pretend to be white when it’s expedient for them,” he tweeted last January. That same month, he followed up with a meme that described countries’ historical expulsions of Jews and tweeted that “Iran made a mistake in attacking the United States. They should have bombed Israel.”
Later that month, he shared an article that claimed 61 percent of Americans agreed with at least one antisemitic stereotype. “Good news! Let’s get those numbers up!” he tweeted. When Poland announced its withdrawal from a Holocaust event in January 2020, Reilly expressed his approval (“Poland FTW”), and when he was questioned again about his attendance at Unite The Right, he claimed that criticizing his presence alongside white supremacists was inherently Jewish behavior (“the idea that one can be contaminated by association is Jewish,” he wrote).
Reilly also tweeted two pictures of billboards, which had been doctored to read “when Jews hold power they abuse it” and “all Jews are dangerous,” and promoted conspiracy theories about “Jewish subversion.” “Judaism is the religion of anti-Christ,” he tweeted at one point in February 2020.
Reilly’s Twitter tirades were not limited to Jewish people. In early 2020, he tweeted that women’s suffrage was “a mistake” and that “women should not be allowed on social media.” An open opponent of gay marriage, Reilly also accused Pete Buttigieg of “dabbling in human trafficking” for planning to adopt a child with his husband Chasten Buttigieg.
Most of Reilly’s worst tweets were deleted by the time he announced his candidacy for Post Falls school board. (Some tweets survive on archived versions on his page.) The cleanup was not Reilly’s first apparent attempt to tailor his image for a new audience.
In a candidate survey on the Kootenai County GOP website, Reilly casts himself as a lifelong conservative.
“I am a registered Republican, and have been ever since I was of voting age,” he wrote. “I am proud to say that I have never voted for a Democrat.”
Yet he appeared to give a different answer on Jan. 6, the day of the Capitol attack, when he attended a pro-Trump rally in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. (Participants reportedly cheered when a speaker announced that “supposedly they’re taking the Capitol and taking out Pence.”) At that rally, Reilly told the Spokesman-Review that he used to be a liberal. “I know how the enemy fights,” he told the paper.
Elsewhere on the candidate survey, Reilly states that he has no felony convictions, which is true: instead, he pleaded guilty in 2012 to a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct for “engaging in fighting” and served a year of parole. That year, he also pleaded guilty to one count of theft of services.
Like a number of vocal figures in school board fights across the country, Reilly (a recent Pennsylvania transplant) does not have children enrolled in the district he seeks to represent.
“The one thing that was absolutely out of the question was the idea of sending her to a public school,” Reilly wrote of his child in the Kootenai County GOP candidate survey. He went on to complain about transgender children and a racial justice program in an Idaho school district.
Though Reilly’s school board race is off the radar for most of the country, he’s touted endorsements from fringe figures, including the hosts of “Red Ice,” far-right figure Michelle Malkin, and a social media personality whom ProPublica described as the “unofficial propagandist” for the violent white supremacist group Rise Above Movement.
Reilly also still appears to have the backing of the Kootenai County GOP. The group previously listed Reilly as their pick for an open Post Falls school board role. After Angry White Men’s report last week, the group quietly removed Reilly’s name and a hyperlink to his candidate page from their website, but left his profile picture on its candidate page.
Reached for comment last Thursday, the Kootenai County GOP referred The Daily Beast to its chairman Brent Regan, who did not return multiple requests for comment. (The Kootenai County GOP did not return new requests for comment on Tuesday.)
On Twitter, the Kootenai County GOP has blocked Angry White Men, as well as a Wonkette reporter who reached out for comment. Reilly, who hung up when called for comment and did not return messages or emails, has blocked this reporter on Twitter.
The Kootenai County GOP has previously come under national scrutiny for hosting far-right YouTuber Brittany Pettibone in 2019. During that meeting, Pettibone urged the group to help her fiancé, Martin Sellner, enter the country after his visa was revoked. (Sellner is a veteran of Austria’s neo-Nazi scene and is now a prominent figure in Europe’s white nationalist movement.) The Kootenai County GOP passed a resolution urging the federal government to allow Sellner into the U.S.
Besides its quiet edits to Reilly’s candidate page, the Kootenai County GOP’s only reference to the controversy appears to have been a Thursday post on Facebook.
“Social Media Etiquette Reminders for Kootenai GOP/KCRCC Accounts: Don’t use the same comment on multiple posts. Please use a Thesaurus, instead of cuss words,” the group wrote. “**If you are an out of state troll, you will be blocked.**”