The new president of New York’s Metropolitan Republican Club boasted to members about advising a far-right group in Germany that endorses shooting migrants and forgetting the Holocaust, and flirts with Nazis.
Ian Walsh Reilly was elected last Wednesday to lead the club, which has counted Theodore Roosevelt, Nelson Rockefeller, and Michael Bloomberg as members. Unlike those moderate Republicans, Reilly is a full-throated supporter of the far-right. Serving previously as the club’s chairman, he’s believed to have invited Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes to speak to the club in October, which led to a violent melee between Proud Boys and antifascists outside.
Reilly told prospective voters during the club’s elections last week that his support for the far-right wasn’t limited to the United States.
“Last year I founded a consultancy with a friend who is also active in GOP politics. The Yorkville Group is what we called it,” Reilly said. “It has provided services, not just to statewide candidates like [New York candidate] Jonathan Trichter, but to international political parties like Alternative fur Deutschland.”
Trichter said he had nothing to do with Reilly.
“To be clear, Ian Reilly never provided any services to my campaign,” Trichter told The Daily Beast. “He didn’t work for it. He didn’t volunteer for it. He didn’t even lick an envelope for it.”
As for Alternative for Germany (Deutschland), it was founded in 2013 as an anti-European Union party. Since then it has since adopted an anti-immigration platform, stating in its election manifesto that Muslims “are a big danger for our state, our society, and our values.” In 2016, AfD’s then-leader advocated for shooting asylum-seekers, while his deputy wrote on Facebook that police should be authorized to shoot at migrant women with children. Last week, Germany’s domestic security agency announced plans to put parts of AfD under surveillance, accusing the organization of fostering “an anti-immigration and particularly anti-Muslim attitude.”
AfD also flirts with Nazis, publicly blowing Hitler dog whistles in a country where symbols of the monstrous regime are outlawed. At a party march in Chemnitz last year, AfD members marched together with neo-Nazis. And last month, the party was “indefinitely” banned from Holocaust remembrance services at the Buchenwald concentration-camp memorial in central Germany after an AfD leader there said Berlin should “make a 180 degree change” to its policy of commemorating the Holocaust.
Reilly told The Daily Beast on Wednesday night that said he supports border security in the U.S., but “does not agree with” AfD’s stance of shooting migrants. He downplayed his firm’s work with AfD, saying it was “actually not that great.”
“Originally one of the members was going to come to the United States and what we were going to do was help them meet with members of Congress,” said Reilly, who added that no payment occurred. “It didn’t happen, but we’re open to it happening again.”
Despite the deal allegedly falling through, Yorkville’s website lists AfD as a client.
“It wasn’t that I went after them, it was that someone who was part of the party knew I would be able to help them get access,” Reilly continued. “Since it’s such a new party, they would have wanted access to discuss who they are… what they represent. They are a very pro-American party, a lot of these people.”
When asked whether he planned to coordinate outreach with European right-wing networks while helming the Met Club, Reilly answered with a blunt “no.”
Reilly was the club’s chairman when it invited McInnes in October to give a speech in which he simulated the assassination of a 1960s Japanese socialist. Following the speech, police said McInnes’ followers attacked several antifa supporters on the Upper East Side, which led to the arrest of nine Proud Boys members.
“I think the fact it was so closely timed to an election, it would have been better not to have that event at that time,” Reilly told The Daily Beast.
Though there are dueling accounts over Reilly’s role in inviting McIness, he did receive the endorsement of another controversial nationalist: Milo Yiannopoulos.
With a political history that includes laundering white-supremacist talking points and encouraging “vigilante squads to start gunning down journalists,” Yiannopoulos posted on Facebook a link to the Met Club’s website, encouraging his 2.3 million followers to “join by midnight” and “vote by proxy for Ian Reilly in the January election.” On Reilly’s Facebook page, the two appear together in a photo smiling.
The contest between Reilly and Robert Morgan was unusually heated for an establishment Republican club on the Upper East Side.
“There were very personal attacks with very loud tones and aggressive body language,” club member Corina Cotenescu, who is leaving the organization, said of last week's election. “Sadly a house divided against itself will not stand… Ian divided the club in my opinion.”
Morgan’s son, Robert, serves on the club's executive committee and told The New York Times he estimated 500 new members joined the Met Club by the end of December. By contrast, the club only had 300 members at the start of the month.
“We just can’t let the ballot box in effect be stuffed by false claims,” wrote Manhattan GOP Chairwoman Andrea Catsimatidis in an email imploring conservatives to vote for Morgan.
Rilley beat Morgan 324 to 270.
“For the election itself, it was really reaching out to the different networks I had access to through friends and finding conservative Republicans who would be willing to join the club because they were ideologically in line with the club and its mission,” Reilly told The Daily Beast.
Catsimatidis did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment, though Reilly said they had reconciled since the election. The two sat together for President Donald Trump’s speech at the organization’s State of the Union watch party on Tuesday night, posing for pictures together afterward.