A staffer for GOP Senate candidate Corey Stewart was a participant in a month-long group chat with people planning the next white supremacist Unite the Right rally, leaked chat logs reveal.
Brian Landrum is a county government staffer for Stewart, the Republican nominee in Virginia’s Senate race, as well as a volunteer for Stewart’s campaign.
Stewart, who won his party’s nomination and an endorsement from President Donald Trump last month, is closely linked with the racist right, and has attended events with Jason Kessler, the organizer of last August’s deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va. Stewart has campaigned in favor of Confederate symbols, endorsed white nationalist congressional candidate Paul Nehlen, and slammed his fellow Republicans as “weak” for condemning Nazi violence at Unite the Right.
Landrum also has a connection to Kessler: he and Kessler were two of 20 people in a Facebook message group dedicated to planning the next Unite the Right rally, according to chat logs first leaked by the media nonprofit Unicorn Riot. And a police report suggests Landrum might have called the cops on a New York Times reporter investigating his involvement in the chat group.
Landrum’s membership in the chat group, where he sent at least one message, would have made him privy to discussions on whether to invite violent skinhead and paramilitary groups to Unite the Right 2.
Landrum works for Stewart in Stewart’s current role as a chair of the Board of Supervisors of Prince William County, Virginia. He is also involved in Stewart’s congressional campaign, which has paid him approximately $200 in reimbursements, FEC filings show.
Stewart campaign spokesman Rick Shaftan said that Landrum, whom he described as a campaign volunteer, was added to the Facebook group without realizing it.
“Somebody stuck his name on this group,” Shaftan said.
“The campaign has no connection with anything having to do with the first or second Unite the Right rally, and strongly discourages anyone from attending the rally," the campaign said in a statement.
In an email to The Daily Beast, Landrum said he had not “been involved in the planning or discussion of a ‘Unite the Right’ rally.”
But Landrum participated in the group at least once. On May 17, Landrum mocked one of Unite the Right 2’s opponents. “😂😂😂😂 what in all fuck,” he wrote in response to a picture of someone Kessler described as “one of the ‘Alt Right’ people talking shit about the rally,” according to a version of those messages reviewed by The Daily Beast.
The leaked logs, which show a snapshot of the group’s communications from May 13 through June 14, do not indicate when Landrum joined the group.
Elsewhere in the chat, members discussed Stewart, Landrum’s boss. “Hahaha...hell fuckin yeah,” one member replied to a screenshot of a CNN segment on Kessler’s connections to Stewart. Kessler, who is facing multiple lawsuits over violence at his first rally, reminded members of the chat not to discuss violence, likely in the event that the conversation could be cited in future court cases. But participants still discussed inviting paramilitary groups to Unite the Right 2, which is being planned for August 11 and 12 in Washington, D.C.
“We are paramilitary + neo-Nazi,” a member who called himself McCormick H Foley wrote. Unicorn Riot identified Foley as a member of Vanguard America, the group with which alleged Unite the Right murderer James Fields Jr. was associated. Foley volunteered to act as security for Unite the Right 2 “as I can stay at least somewhat close to my Vanguard.” He also said he was bringing up to 15 members of Vanguard America and the violent skinhead group the Hammerskins.
Landrum previously worked for Stewart’s failed 2017 gubernatorial primary campaign, that campaign’s website shows. The campaign made news for a number of publicity stunts like defending Confederate symbols and raffling off an AR-15, as well as accidental headlines when staffers were caught deleting unflattering information from Stewart’s Wikipedia page.
A Wednesday report in Big League Politics, a conservative publication founded by a former Breitbart reporter, suggests Landrum called police on a reporter who might have been investigating his involvement in Unite the Right. The Big League Politics article says Landrum filed a police report against Times reporter Stephanie Saul, whom he claimed illegally entered his apartment in Woodbridge, Va. on Wednesday and gave a guest a note asking Landrum to call her in reference to Unicorn Riot. (The article includes a statement from Stewart, who compared the alleged incident to Watergate.)
Police in Prince William County, Virginia told The Daily Beast that they had been called to an apartment in Landrum’s building, but said the incident was still under investigation and that no charges have been filed. The Times disputed the Big League Politics article.
“The accounts we've seen online are inaccurate,” a Times spokesperson told The Daily Beast. “Ms. Saul went to an address for Landrum Associates in Woodbridge looking for Mr. Landrum. She was told by a woman who opened the door that he was not present. She left a note with the woman for Mr. Landrum asking him to call. At no time did she enter the premises.”