A Spokane, Washington GOP leader says she feels duped after inviting a known member of a white nationalist group to speak at an event, where—surprise—he did not denounce his white nationalist ties.
James Allsup is an alt-right YouTuber and a member of Identity Evropa, a whites-only youth group that marched during the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last year. Allsup also won a position in his county Republican party in an uncontested election in June, The Daily Beast first reported. Immediately after the report, Republican groups disavowed Allsup. But some of those groups were quietly building inroads with him.
Last month, Spokane County GOP Chair Cecily Wright and her husband hosted Allsup at a meeting of their local libertarian group, Right Wing Watch first reported.
After The Daily Beast reported Allsup’s election, Wright told local media that she’d “like to go punch the guy in the nose myself.” But in private, Wright was more welcoming to Allsup. During a July 11 event hosted by her conservative group Northwest Grassroots, she introduced Allsup as having been “label-lynched.” She played a clip of him speaking at a Donald Trump rally. “Did you hear anybody that you disagreed with in the video?” she asked the group. “Absolutely not.”
Allsup gave a brief speech in which he defended Charlottesville marchers, whinged about the “gay agenda,” and blasted some Republicans for condemning him without first contacting him.
The Daily Beast has repeatedly attempted to contact Allsup in advance of its previous coverage. He has yet to respond. In his speech, Allsup called The Daily Beast “extremely far-left, anti-Trump, anti-conservative outlet” that used “mean words” to scare away other Republicans.
“You’re right there,” Wright encouraged him during his remarks on the media.
Contacted by the media this week, she walked back her apparent support of Allsup.
In a statement to Spokane’s KXLY, Wright claimed Allsup had reached out to her husband, the head of Northwest Grassroots, and asked to address “what he feels is an untrue characterization of him as a white supremacist.”
“After talking with Mr. Allsup, John felt that he had been misrepresented and invited him to speak about the inaccurate ‘labeling’ at our next NW Grassroots meeting without my knowledge or consent,” Wright wrote. “The segment was called ‘label lynching’ and I had been told Mr. Allsup was there to dispel the label he has been identified with as a racist and white supremacist—a chance to defend and explain himself.”
She added that “Allsup did speak, said nothing controversial but did NOT denounce the vile, racist views he is associated with as was expected.”
“I hope the community and the Spokane County GOP understand that I consider this a serious mistake in my judgment and hope my explanation and apology is accepted,” Wright wrote.
Wright, who did not respond to a request for comment, did not explain why she thought Allsup would denounce his racist views. Since The Daily Beast first reported his election, he’s appeared on the white supremacist “Daily Shoah” podcast (the name is a reference to the Holocaust) and shared a liberal Facebook meme comparing caged immigrant children to Jews in concentration camps. “They present this like it’s a bad thing,” Allsup wrote of the meme, which warned of “American fascism.”
But Allsup is hardly the first far-right figure to find a platform with Northwest Grassroots. In 2015, the group promoted John Weaver, a neo-Confederate pastor who has defended slavery, condemned interracial marriage, and previously led the Council of Conservative Citizens, the racist group that mass-murderer Dylann Roof cited as his entrypoint into white supremacist extremism.
Nor was Wright the only elected official at Allsup’s speech. Also in attendance were Spokane County Treasurer Rob Chase and Spokane Valley Mayor Rod Higgins. Both men spoke at a Northwest Grassroots meeting in June, during which Higgins joked about building a wall between Spokane and Spokane Valley.
Speaking to the Spokane Spokesman-Review, Higgins declined to comment on Allsup, stating that he was unfamiliar with his views.
“Leading up to the meeting, I don’t think I’d even heard of him,” Higgins said. Higgins dismissed the backlash to Allsup’s appearance, stating that if locals are “looking for things to be offended about, I’d think there are probably things of more substance.”
Higgins did not return a request for comment on what constituents could complain about, if not a white nationalist in an elected role.