Bennett Bressman has “more compassion for small dogs than illegals” and claims his “whole political ideology revolves around harming journalists.” He uses the n-word freely and cracks jokes about the Holocaust.
Bressman also happens to have served as statewide field director for Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts’ successful 2018 reelection campaign.
A shocking trove of leaked private messages Bressman sent over Discord, an online gaming platform popular with white nationalists, were surfaced Sunday by Anti-Fascist Action Nebraska. Under the handle “bress222,” Bressman made over 3,000 comments on the page for white nationalist YouTuber Nicholas Fuentes’ show America First. The chats were made public by Unicorn Riot, a volunteer nonprofit media outlet known for exposing the internal communications of white nationalists.
The 22-year-old University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate’s description of his age, work in local politics, and photographs he posted of himself align with postings he made on other social media accounts and an interview he gave to a local newspaper last year.
TPM could not find current contact information for Bressman. In a Monday phone interview with the Lincoln Journal-Star, Bressman acknowledged that the profile belonged to him and claimed he no longer held these “really bad” views.
“It makes me sick to my stomach to go back and read,” Bressman said. “There’s a big disconnect between those words and who I am. I am disgusted by them and a lot of what I said is sick and twisted.”
“I am shocked and horrified to learn that this former staffer made these statements and I had no idea he harbored these feelings. He never expressed these views to me. I condemn these statements and this hateful worldview, which do not reflect my beliefs or the beliefs of Nebraskans,” Ricketts said in a statement.
The Nebraska Republican Party, where Bressman worked as an unpaid intern, did not immediately return TPM’s requests for comment.
In a statement to local media, NEGOP Executive Director Ryan Hamilton called Bressman’s views “abhorrent.”
“Had the Party been aware he harbored those beliefs, he never would have been permitted to volunteer and had the Party become aware of them during his time as an intern, he would have been terminated immediately,” Hamilton said.
Bressman’s LinkedIn and Instagram profiles, cited in the Antifa blog post, were taken down by Monday morning. Google search shows archived versions of the pages which describe Bressman as “Field Director” at Pete Ricketts for Governor on LinkedIn and a reference to “chad nationalism” on his Instagram.
But the trove of chats remains searchable on Unicorn Riot’s page. In them, Bressman expresses his allegiance to white nationalist ideology, claiming that “the white race is dying” and sharing memes about “becoming a fascist” as a result of his “research.” Bressman explicitly encourages his fellow travelers to seek posts in local government and “take this whole apparatus over.”
“by CPAC next year we should all be repping at least 225 on bench, have a QT trad white gf, and have had at least one role in local politics,” Bressman wrote in another post from April 2018.
In other posts, Bressman says the only downside of running down a Black Lives Matter supporter is that he has “a nice car and it’s white.”
Bressman describes his hatred for undocumented immigrants, LGBTQ people, and black people, joking that his “redneck cousins call watermelon nigger ham.”
Jews are also a fixation for Bressman, who uses the term “kike’d” to refer to getting cheated out of money, jokes about the Holocaust and uses the triple parentheses or “echo” effect popularized by anti-Semites on the alt-right when mentioning Jewish individuals.
In one post, Bressman refers to his “american revolution (((professor)))” who “has made it very clear he is openly liberal.” The local Antifa chapter identified that individual as UNL Jewish political theory professor Ari Kohen, who taught Bressman in his 2017 course “Liberalism and Its Critics.”
Kohen tweeted about the messages on Sunday night, and spoke to TPM in a Monday phone interview. He called the messages “shocking” and “quite tough to wrap your mind around,” remembering Bressman as an unremarkable, quiet student who didn’t voice controversial opinions in class.
Kohen cautioned that he did not know definitively that Bressman was referring to him in the post.
“It could be somebody else,” he said. “There’s certainly other liberal Jewish faculty at the university. But I am the most recognizably, visibly Jewish member of the faculty. I am the one who walks around wearing a yarmulke on my head everyday.”
So a former student of mine works (worked?) for @GovRicketts & is a white nationalist. He has lots to say about Jews in these messages, including specifically about me.
I try not to let this stuff get to me but maybe the @NEGOP could make clear they’re not going to get me killed? https://t.co/wS2cNa0AbT
— Ari Kohen (@kohenari) March 11, 2019
In a November 2018 interview with the Journal-Star, Bressman says he was inspired to work on the Ricketts campaign after hearing Nebraska GOP executive director Kenny Zoeller give a talk to his political science class.
Bressman told the newspaper that he was promoted to field director ahead of the May primary in his first official job outside of school, helping to oversee two dozen interns tasked with phone banking, canvassing and other core campaign tasks.
Zoeller left the Nebraska GOP in January and currently serves as Nebraska’s chief government performance officer. He did not immediately return TPM’s request for comment.
This post has been updated.