The witness, Robert “Bob” Vandervoort, appeared at a hearing Monday on a bill to make English the official state language, the Patriot-News reported, prompting state Rep. Leslie Acosta (D) to allege that the committee had invited a white supremacist.
Without mentioning Vandervoort’s name, the committee chair Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R) defended the invitation and rebutted the Democrat’s claims.
“The comments that she made about some alleged white supremacist being in our meeting was outrageous,” Metcalfe said Thursday, according to the Patriot News. “It was an email put out alleging that somebody was a white nationalist, which is quite a bit different from a white supremacist. To say somebody is a nationalist and for the independence of their country and a patriot to defending their country, is a lot different from saying somebody is a racist.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center has described Vandervoort as being tied “to white nationalist groups.” But, as the Patriot-News noted, the center characterizes white nationalist groups as espousing “white supremacist or white separatist ideologies.”
Metcalfe also said, “For whoever said the man was white to begin with, that person was actually the racist — tying his skin color to his patriotism and what he stands up for for his country.”