EXCLUSIVE: Capitol Hill Staffer Is A Prominent Follower Of Neo-Nazi Nick Fuentes

Evidence shows Congressman Paul Gosar’s digital director is behind an online persona that Fuentes called one of his “strongest soldiers.”
Future hill staffer Wade Searle stands behind far-right influencer Nick Fuentes at a rally in 2020. (Baked Alaska livestream)
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Nick Fuentes was under attack. 

On May 6, 2022, two high-ranking members of Fuentes’ white-supremacist “Groyper” movement had defected from his organization and gone on a rival far-right streaming show to criticize Fuentes and air their grievances about the group. Fuentes responded five days later on his own stream, “America First.” After denouncing his “enemies,” Fuentes raised his hand and made a demand from his remaining followers. 

“Now it’s time to pledge your allegiance to me forever, OK?” Fuentes declared.

Fuentes was seated in front of a digital studio backdrop with a Russian flag bearing the “Z” insignia used by supporters of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in the corner of his screen. In a chat feed alongside the host, messages from viewers poured in. They took Fuentes’ oath via emoji, sending in row after row of cartoon hands. One audience member who pledged fealty to Fuentes used the handle “Chikken.” A wrench icon next to their name indicated they were a moderator in the chatroom for Fuentes’ streams. “Chikken” sent in multiple hand emojis, signaling their loyalty to Fuentes as he elaborated on the pledge. 

“Raise your right hand. ‘I swear my undying allegiance to Nicholas J. Fuentes and the America First movement, so help me God,’” Fuentes said, continuing to recite his pledge, “Raise your hand. Hold it high. ‘I swear I will defend the white race, my nation America, and my savior Jesus Christ, and my loyalty to the America First movement, Nicholas J. Fuentes, so help me God.’”

As the emojis continued to roll in, Fuentes punctuated his oath by crossing his arms across his chest and — as he often does — unleashing racial slurs. 

“What more do you want from a n***a? What more do you want from a n***a?” he asked. 

Many of his followers were clearly on board. In addition to emojis, they sent in paid “superchats” that allowed them to display a note on the screen alongside Fuentes. These paid messages are a staple of Fuentes’ broadcasts on Cozy TV, the video platform Fuentes launched after he was suspended from YouTube for violations of its hate speech policy in 2020. Fuentes read these “superchats” aloud. Most of the donors gave a few dollars, but one, who used the handle “Chikkenright,” gave an especially generous gift, $150, along with a note that gushed to Fuentes, “You are our voice!”

“Chikken” and “Chikkenright” were aliases associated with a social media persona that became relatively prominent in the “Groyper” movement between 2020 and last year. As he gave thanks for the donation, Fuentes indicated his personal familiarity with “Chikkenright.” 

“Thank you so much Chikkenright,” Fuentes said. “Chikkenright, one of the best. Thank you so much, king.”

The ChickenRight persona was a unique figure in the Groyper movement. Fuentes’ core audience is made up of young, alienated “Zoomers” who watch his hours-long streams, in which he rails against minorities and gays. But ChickenRight wasn’t just some kid tuning in to Fuentes’ fringe online world from a basement. Evidence indicates ChickenRight has a real job in the corridors of power in Washington D.C.

TPM has uncovered an extensive digital trail of interconnected Groyper social media pages using variations of the “ChickenRight” and “Chikken” handles that can be linked to Wade Searle, who works as the digital director for Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), one of the most extreme, far-right members of Congress. ChickenRight’s posting on far-right websites and Searle’s alleged involvement with Fuentes occurred before and after he started working in Gosar’s Capitol Hill office. Gosar, his chief of staff, his press secretary, and Searle have not responded to multiple detailed requests for comment.

Nick Fuentes livestream on Cozy TV.

‘As Extreme And As Racist As You Get’

Fuentes is one of the far-right leaders who gained prominence during the Trump era. His open embrace of Nazism and usage of racial epithets is extreme even within this alt-right movement. The revelation that a devotee of Fuentes appears to have infiltrated a congressional office represents a previously unknown and unseen degree of influence for the modern white supremacist movement. 

In an interview with TPM, Nicole Hemmer, a historian at Vanderbilt University who focuses on conservatism and the far right, said it would be “pretty extreme” for Gosar to have a Groyper activist in his office.

“The Groypers are essentially the equivalent of neo-Nazis,” said Hemmer. “They are attached to violent events like Jan. 6. Nick Fuentes, as sort of the organizer of the Groypers, expresses Holocaust denialism, white supremacy, white nationalism, pretty strong anti-women bigotry, he calls for a kind of return to Twelfth Century Catholicism. They’re an extremist group that is OK with violence.

“A kind of even sub rosa identification of Groypers as congressional aides is the same as having Holocaust deniers, or alt righters, or, you know, Aryan Nations people,” Hemmer added. “It’s as extreme and as racist as you get in the United States.”

While Hemmer noted that, particularly in the 19th century, members of Congress were associated with the Klan and other racist groups, she described the situation with Gosar’s office as unprecedented in the modern era. 

“There were a few members of Congress in the 1990s who had loose ties to militia groups, but nothing like this,” said Hemmer, who recently authored a book on conservatism during that period.

Gosar has his own direct links to Fuentes. This is a surprising connection for a sitting congressman given the extreme nature of Fuentes’ activism: Fuentes attended the 2017 neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, was present at the Capitol on Jan. 6, and has made remarks attacking women, warning against “Jewish control” of politics, using the n-word, and praising Hitler, among other things. 

The congressman has repeatedly generated controversy and condemnation by alternately cozying up to and distancing himself from the white supremacist leader. Gosar appeared at the last two editions of Fuentes’ “America First” conference. He showed up in person at the event in 2021. Gosar also delivered a video message the following year. When his taped 2022 address to the conference caused an uproar, Gosar insisted it was a mistake that stemmed from “miscommunication” among his staff. Gosar has also made social media posts promoting Fuentes. In July 2021, he wrote the FBI on congressional letterhead criticizing Fuentes’ inclusion on the no-fly list as an abuse of power. 

But the presence of a prominent Groyper in Gosar’s office would indicate the congressman’s ties to the white supremacist movement are far deeper than previously known. Online, ChickenRight built a following of more than 20,000 people on far-right websites while posting extremist, anti-Semitic, racist, and anti-vaccine content.

Searle, who graduated high school in 2021, has worked on Gosar’s staff since November of that year. According to the congressional directory Legistorm, Searle rose from being a temporary employee to becoming the congressman’s digital director in May 2022. During his time working for Gosar, Searle has served as the main contact on official press releases and represented the congressman at events in his home state of Arizona. 

As of this writing, Gosar follows Searle’s official, verified account on Instagram. One post on the page features a photo of Searle with Gosar. Searle captioned that image with a quote attributed to Gosar that includes Fuentes’ main slogan, “We’re just getting started. Welcome to America First.” 

Searle’s official Instagram is mostly filled with inoffensive images of him posing in Washington and at political events. The anonymous ChickenRight accounts he appears to have run are far more unusual — and far more extreme. 

Wade Searle’s instagram page.

‘2 Admins’

While looking into potential links among the ChickenRight persona and Searle, TPM connected with two researchers focused on the far right who had also been working independently to investigate the account. Nick Martin, editor of The Informant, and a writer who uses the pen name Haley Orion and authors the Arizona Right Watch newsletter and Arizona Right Wing Watch Twitter account, provided TPM with some of their evidence that indicated Searle was involved with the “ChickenRight” social media accounts.

“Chikken has been a dedicated acolyte of Nick Fuentes, with the Hitler-loving white supremacist leader going as far as to call him a loyal friend and one of the ‘strongest soldiers of the movement,’” said Martin, who previously worked for TPM as a reporter and editor.

“Chikken’s role has been almost entirely behind the scenes, but he’s been viewed as one of the leaders among the small numbers of young men and boys who have attached themselves to Fuentes in recent years,” Martin added

Many of the “Groypers” take pains to remain anonymous, and “Chikken” was no exception. However, through in-depth research and in conjunction with Orion and Martin, TPM found strong evidence of Searle’s involvement with the ChickenRight accounts. The digital trail also shows the “Chikken” persona’s relative prominence and importance in Fuentes’ world. 

Since Searle joined Gosar’s staff, many of the ChickenRight posts have been deleted. However, much of this material has been captured on the Internet Archive.

There are indications at least one other person was involved with the ChickenRight persona along with Searle. Evidence suggests that person may be Landen Petersen, who works as an intern in Gosar’s office. 

Last October, photos and videos show both Searle and Petersen appearing at a local chamber of commerce event where they presented a business with a certificate on Gosar’s behalf. The pair were also photographed with Gosar at a GOP event in his district that same month. 

There is a digital trail indicating Petersen helped create TheChickenRight persona along with Searle. While the “ChickenRight” accounts eventually became completely anonymous, as of mid 2020, “TheChickenRight” page on Twitter was credited to two people: “Wade” and “Landen.” “Landen” was identified as the page’s “Founder.” On Twitter, “TheChickenRight,” which has since been suspended, also promoted an Instagram page, “RightWingChickenWing.” That Instagram page has also been deleted, but Orion, the Arizona Right Watch researcher, provided TPM with screengrabs that she said were captured from the page. Those screengrabs showed that it advertised an appearance from “Wade” and “Landen” on another Groyper stream in late July 2020. Martin, the reporter from The Informant, provided TPM with a copy of a since-deleted Instagram page attributed to Petersen that appears to include his photo and features a Bible verse he currently uses on the site and a note identifying “rightwingchickenwing” as his “second account.” The Instagram page where Petersen appeared to take credit for “rightwingchickenwing” is no longer online, however, there are indications it interacted with Searle. In 2020, an account that appears to belong to Searle tagged the page where Petersen indicated he was responsible for “rightwingchickenwing” in a post. On TikTok, there is a “RightWingChickenWing” page that is, as of this writing, still live. It features the same Bible verse from the Petersen pages and lists “2 admins” in its bio: “L” and “W.”

Petersen did not respond to a detailed request for comment. Since TheChickenRight accounts generally used a pseudonym, it is impossible to determine how much Petersen is responsible for the content on the various pages. 

By late 2020, Searle was posting as if the page was his own. Searle most directly revealed himself as an operator of the account as he took his activism offline and into the real world. 

Offline Activism

On Nov. 28 of that year, Fuentes appeared at a “Stop The Steal” rally in Phoenix, Arizona where he criticized former President Trump’s loss in that year’s election as “fraud.” Video of the event shows Searle, who was not yet working for Gosar, standing behind Fuentes holding a flag bearing the “America First” logo and leading the crowd in chants of “America First!”

Searle stands behind Fuentes at a rally in 2020 in a livestream by Baked Alaska.

Searle at a rally in 2020 following a speech by Fuentes in a livestream by Baked Alaska.

After that event, “TheChickenRight” Twitter account featured photos of a person who appeared to be Searle alongside Fuentes and other prominent Groypers. In those tweets, “TheChickenRight” said that a person behind the account was among those posing in the photographs. 

“After me and another patriot held an AF Flag behind @NickJFuentes, I got a picture, a maga hat signed, and some merch signed. Very surreal, the energy was ecstatic!” the tweet said. “Thank you for being so nice to everyone there, and making an effort to interact with us all, Nick!”

Archived image of @TheChickenRight on Twitter.

In addition to indications Searle was involved with the “ChickenRight” Twitter account, the digital trail shows the alias was active on more extreme websites. Along with Twitter, there was a “ChickenRight” account on Gab, a social network that has become popular among the far right due to its conservative Christian ownership and lack of moderation. “TheChickenRight” Gab account began posting in January 2021. “TheChickenRight” Twitter account promoted the Gab account, and made clear the pages had the same owner. Both the Twitter and Gab “ChickenRight” accounts also featured the same backdrop — a photo of Searle standing behind Fuentes at the rally.

Archived image of @TheChickenRight on Gab.

While many of ChickenRight’s Gab posts have been deleted within the past year or so, the page, which amassed over 21,000 followers, can be viewed through the Internet Archive. A review of ChickenRight’s archived Gab posts indicates other links to Searle — and to Gosar. 

In posts on Gab, “ChickenRight” indicated they were about Searle’s age and posting from his hometown, Prescott, Arizona. In an August 2021 post on Gab, ChickenRight shared a photo of a banner in support of arrested Capitol rioters that said “FREE J6 POLITICAL PRISONERS.” In the post, ChickenRight said they saw the banner, which was hanging from a gazebo, after they “went for a walk downtown.” Multiple features in the picture, including details of the gazebo’s distinctive fencing and roof, indicate it was likely taken in Prescott’s Courthouse Square. That same month, ChickenRight made a post on Gab where they criticized COVID vaccines. In the anti-vax post, ChickenRight indicated they were not yet old enough to drink, which would be in line with Searle’s high school graduation year.

“I find comfort in knowing that I’m not one of the zombies lining up obediently to get their vaccine/booster shot every 6 months,” ChickenRight wrote. “It seems like so many people my age (not even old enough to drink yet) are willing to take the path of least resistance and do whatever they’re told.”

And, as Searle was still a few months out from joining Gosar’s team, the ChickenRight Gab account made a June 2021 post in which it seemed to flaunt insider knowledge and connections to Arizona Republicans: it suggested that Wendy Rogers, a state senator and prominent election denier, would be joining the site. 

“Don’t believe me? Just wait!” ChickenRight said. 

Rogers’ Gab account indicates she started using the site that month. 

ChickenRight also made multiple posts praising Gosar in 2021 even as the accounts criticized other Republicans — including Trump — for being insufficiently conservative. 

Chikken’s Channels

Along with clear evidence tying the accounts to Searle, the “ChickenRight” Gab and Twitter archives contain extensive examples of extremist rhetoric. ChickenRight regularly shared Fuentes’ videos and other extremist content. On Twitter and Gab, they posted statements and graphics suggesting trans people are “pedophiles,” that LGBTQ individuals are engaged in “sin,” and that women should not be part of the workforce. ChickenRight also minimized slavery, and made disparaging comments about Blacks, Asians, and Jews. In one instance, they referenced anti-Semitic stereotypes and criticized “HOOK-NOSED BANKERS.” In another, ChickenRight proffered a version of the Great Replacement conspiracy theory

“The liberal apparatus encourages murderous, violent, genocidal behavior to resentful non-whites (of which they import millions every year) with 24/7 constant genocidal anti-White rhetoric, and conservative media responds by telling us to close our eyes and ‘unite’ as we’re basically being slowly murdered,” ChickenRight wrote on Nov. 23, 2021, which, based on House financial disclosures, was five days after Searle joined Gosar’s team as a temporary employee. 

Another social media site was part of “ChickenRight’s” online footprint. On Gab, the “ChickenRight” page linked to a “Chikkenright” channel on Telegram, an encrypted chat app popular on the far right. That page has also been deleted, but an an archive shows “Chikkenright” used it to share videos they made and to chronicle their efforts to develop better video editing skills. In a March 2021 post, “Chikkenright” also explained why they wouldn’t use the “Black Sun,” an explicitly Nazi symbol, in their clips. Their objection was not due to a rejection of Nazism — rather, they felt it didn’t look visually appealing. 

“Btw, I’ll never use a sonnenrad or anything like that in my videos. Esoteric nazi imagery is extremely generic (used in literally every wignat edit without exception) and it takes a very talented editor to make it not look cringe – not worth the effort frankly,” Chikkenright said.

Gosar’s own social media presence displays clear links to “ChickenRight.” And, just as Searle officially entered his orbit, the congressman ratcheted up his rhetoric and deepened his engagement with the Groyper world online. 

Anime is also a recurring motif for the online right and was prominently featured on ChickenRight’s Gab and Telegram pages. Gosar’s social media also leaned into Japanese animation in one of his most controversial posts. On Nov. 7, 2021, roughly a week and a half before Searle joined his team, Gosar tweeted a video edit that used footage from the anime series “Attack on Titan” to show him cutting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) with a sword. Gosar, his chief of staff, and Searle did not respond to questions about whether Searle played a role in the decision to post that clip. 

While Gosar claimed the anime clip with Ocasio-Cortez was a representation of policy disagreements and was “not meant to depict any harm or violence,” the video provoked a rare censure from the congressman’s colleagues on Nov. 17, 2021 that saw him stripped of his committee assignments

House financial disclosures indicate Searle officially began working for Gosar the day after the congressman was censured. Gosar started an account on Gab one day later, Nov. 19, 2021. After the congressman’s arrival on the site, ChickenRight’s Gab began promoting Gosar’s posts. In addition to adopting the Gab platform, Gosar’s social media accounts also began using the aesthetics and imagery that were popular in far-right circles around the time Searle joined his team in November 2021. Gosar’s first post on Gab showed a pair of meme sunglasses superimposed on his face in a style that has been a staple of far-right forums. The congressman went on to use the platform to interact with Fuentes and several other Groyper accounts — including ChickenRight

Haley Orion, the Arizona Right Watch researcher who helped uncover the links between Searle and the “ChickenRight” accounts, said she was not surprised to learn Gosar had a Groyper in his office due to the content previously posted on his official social media. 

“I didn’t think that Gosar was a Zoomer Groyper shitposter by himself,” she said.  

After Searle joined Gosar’s staff and the congressman’s digital presence became more extreme, the ChickenRight accounts began to go quiet. By the middle of last year, all of the posts on ChickenRight’s Gab page had been deleted, the link to the “ChikkenRight” Telegram was removed, and the photo that appeared to show Searle at Fuentes’ rally was taken down. TPM sent multiple requests for comment to an email address that was listed as the contact for “TheChickenRight” on Gab and did not receive a response.

To Orion, it is “dangerous” that, as Gosar’s digital director, Searle potentially has access to his official social media channels.

“It has more influence then he would ever have as ’The ChickenRight,’” Orion said, adding, “He’s making America First propaganda and he’s making that propaganda and feeding it through a congressman’s account.”

A Groyper ‘Soldier’

There is ample evidence that, before the accounts began to go silent, ChickenRight played a relatively prominent role in Fuentes’ orbit. On multiple occasions, Fuentes shared “Chikken” videos on his own Telegram channel. He also interacted with the account on Twitter. On his “America First” streaming show where “Chikken” was a moderator, Fuentes engaged with them in multiple episodes. Along with the loyalty pledge segment, there was an August 2022 episode where “Chikken” and another member of the audience helped arrange for Fuentes to have a chat with a popular streamer named “Sneako.” After the conversation, Fuentes praised “Chikken” for their efforts and encouraged his other followers to offer an “o7,” which they type to signify a salute during streams.   

“Let’s get some o7’s to Crypto Zoomer and Chikken,” Fuentes said. “God bless them. Strongest soldiers, the strongest soldiers of the movement. God bless and we salute you.”

Allegations about Chikken’s role in the Groyper movement — and their connection to Gosar — spilled into public view last summer as Fuentes dealt with the defections from his organization. One of the defectors was Simon Dickerman, who has a long history with far-right and white supremacist organizations. 

Fuentes’ May 2022 request that his fans declare a loyalty oath was prompted by an appearance by Dickerman and another Groyper activist who were both feuding with Fuentes on the far-right stream “Kino Casino.” As allegations and insults flew between the camps, Dickerman returned to the Kino Casino in July 2022 to air further dirty laundry from the “America First” organization, including sharing screengrabs of internal chats among the group’s leadership, who Fuentes tends to describe as his “interns.”

On the stream, which TPM obtained via the Internet Archive, Dickerman also shared photos of Searle, who he described as Fuentes’ “spy in Gosar’s office.”

“Kino Casino” livestream via Internet Archive.

“This is Wade Searle,” Dickerman said. “This is somebody who goes by ChickenRight online and ChickenRight here is one of the high members of the internship. He’s been around for a long time.”

On the Kino Casino stream, Dickerman shared what he described as screengrabs of internal chats with Fuentes and his allies that followed the backlash to Gosar’s taped appearance at the “America First” conference last year. After the event provoked a firestorm — including calls for Republican leadership to take action against Gosar — the congressman lightly criticized Fuentes: “Nick’s got a problem with his mouth,” Gosar said last April. 

On the same livestream, Dickerman showed off what he said were images of Fuenters and his “internship,” including “Chikken,” discussing Gosar’s statement in the chat. In one comment shared by Dickerman, “Chikken” seemed to suggest there was another “groyper staffer” in Gosar’s office. In another screengrab shared by Dickerman, Fuentes indicated he would speak with Gosar’s chief of staff about the  “problem with his mouth” statement. 

“I’ll call his cos on monday,” Fuentes wrote. 

“There is an ellipsis there … maybe theyre misquoting,” Fuentes added in response to the statement, according to Dickerman’s screenshots.

Gosar’s chief of staff, Tom Van Flein, did not respond to a request for comment.

Dickerman also shared purported images of chats that indicated “Chikken” sought to calm other Groypers who were concerned Gosar would abandon support for Fuentes. In one, Chicken suggested the congressman had multiple staffers who backed the “America First” organization, and that he was simply bowing to pressure from GOP leadership and his family.

“All of his top staffers are AF friendly now,” Chikken wrote in one of Dickerman’s screengrabs, adding, “So there’s literally zero influence on him to do this other than Kevin McCarthy (who everyone has to deal with) and his wife (bruh)”

Nick Martin, the reporter and editor from The Informant who has tracked Searle and other members of the far right described Gosar’s relationship to Fuentes as a “perverse deal.”

“Gosar has repeatedly opened the door for and offered his own credibility to Fuentes, who otherwise would have very little of his own as the leader of a small and pretty insulated racist group. Gosar appears to be under the mistaken impression that people like Fuentes and his pals are the future rather than what they actually are — small thinkers who try in vain to resuscitate the corpses of failed dictators and despots,” said Martin, adding, “They’ll continue to freeload off Gosar’s status as long as it’s beneficial, all the while calling him naive behind his back. And in the meantime, the congressman gets what? Praise from a small faction of people who also praise Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini?”

By associating with Fuentes, Gosar has repeatedly exposed himself to political risk and controversy. He also has apparently relied on an aide whose main credentials seem to come from Fuentes’ white supremacist movement. Searle is unusually young and appears to lack a college degree or prior government work. His primary political experience came as a “soldier” in Fuentes’ Groyper army. 

Hemmer, the Vanderbilt historian, noted the presence of a Groyper on Gosar’s staff indicates a “deeper” tie between the congressman and the movement. Rather than simply personal affinity or interest, Hemmer said it evidenced “a broader social and political set of connections.” She also said the presence of a Groyper on Capitol Hill represented an alarming level of growth for the movement. 

“The Groypers have never gotten the kind of attention that the alt right did, but they are a serious development on the far right. They are a continuation in many ways, or an evolutionary step for the alt right. It captivates a young, mostly white, male audience,” said Hemmer, adding, “This should be a good reminder that we should be paying attention because they are growing and they are connected in powerful ways to people with real institutional power.” 

There is an easy explanation for why Gosar would stick his neck out for Fuentes, pepper his social media with far right memes, and surround himself with a prominent Groyper. Despite his periodic disavowals and efforts to distance himself, it seems that Gosar is also a part of this movement. The extremist racist and anti-Semitic rhetoric that has helped Fuentes build a following among online Zoomers also earned him a fan in Congress. Gosar is, quite simply, a Groyper. 

That’s exactly what “Chikken” indicated in one of the screengrabs shared by Dickerman. Dickerman did not respond to a request for comment. 

The screengrab in question showed a set of messages where “Chikken” responded to a worried Groyper who asked, “Is Gosar still in our camp?”

“Yea he will be,” Chikken wrote of Gosar, before adding, “And he is.”

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