Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), co-chair of the Latino-Jewish Congressional Caucus, has called for an investigation into TPM’s report that detailed evidence that links Rep. Paul Gosar’s (R-AZ) digital director, Wade Searle, to Neo-Nazi leader Nick Fuentes.
“This reporting is very disturbing, especially in light of the Congressman’s past social media activity. Speaker McCarthy must investigate these reports, and if accurate, pursue further action,” Wasserman Schultz said in a statement to TPM on Tuesday. “No Member, regardless of party, should employ anyone who spreads dangerous, hateful Neo-Nazi and white-supremacist propaganda. If these allegations are true, this individual should be terminated.”
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has, thus far, not commented on the report, which was published on Sunday.
Searle’s ties to the far right also came up on the Hill Tuesday afternoon as Gosar participated in an Oversight Committee hearing on police reform in the District of Columbia. A clearly frustrated Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-TX) pointed to Gosar and Searle as she suggested Republicans on her committee were not sincerely concerned about public safety in the nation’s capital.
“Let’s also talk about the fact that, just recently … we received reports that there is a staff member who’s working for a Republican on this committee who has ties with and supports a white nationalist who has proclaimed himself to be just like Hitler,” Crockett said before taking a long pause. “I don’t really know what to say except for the fact that this is a farce all right.”
Along with detailing Searle’s apparent ties to Fuentes, TPM revealed extensive evidence that suggested he and an intern in Gosar’s office, Landen Petersen, can be linked to an interconnected network of social media pages that espoused extremist rhetoric about Jewish people and people of color. Searle and Petersen have not replied to multiple requests for comment.
National and local Jewish groups responded to those details in TPM’s report Tuesday.
“If true, it’s deeply disturbing that [Gosar]’s digital director is reportedly behind a secret ‘Groyper army’ account and an active supporter of white supremacist leader Nick Fuentes. This needs a full investigation. Hate and extremism have no place in government — at any level,” the Anti-Defamation League said in a statement to Haaretz.
Gosar has his own links to Fuentes and history of extremist remarks. In November 2021, under Democratic House leadership, Gosar was given a rare censure and stripped of his committee assignments by colleagues after he tweeted an anime video that depicted him attacking Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) with a sword. Disclosure records indicate Gosar hired Searle the day after his censure. After Republicans took control of the House earlier this year, Gosar was restored to his committees.
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Phoenix Executive Director Paul Rockower suggested to the Arizona Republic he would not trust an attempt by Gosar to distance himself from Fuentes. “We are tired of his gaslighting. There have been way too many of these incidents for us to believe it and we don’t accept it,” he said.
Crockett’s remarks about Gosar Tuesday came as the Senate prepared to vote on a measure to block police reform legislation passed by lawmakers in the city. As a federal district, Washington D.C. is overseen by congressional committees. D.C.’s attorney general has criticized the measure as “grandstanding” since a congressional review period has expired. President Biden has also indicated he would veto the measure if it reaches his desk.
Republicans on the Oversight Committee spent the bulk of Tuesday’s hearing questioning D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) and other city officials about crime in the city. The focus fit with a larger GOP narrative about spiking crime rates in Democrat-led cities in the wake of the COVID pandemic. As she brought up Gosar’s ties to the far right, Crockett argued Republicans are ignoring “root causes” such as the proliferation of guns and an ongoing “financial crisis” that she suggested the GOP could exacerbate by bringing the debt ceiling to a “cliff.” Crockett also pointed out that — despite Republicans’ focus on diverse, largely Democratic cities like Washington — crime rates are higher in staunchly red states.
“The fact is, we’ve got an increase in crime all over. If we really want to be real about it, let’s talk about it,” Crockett said. “We’re talking about D.C. right now, but the murder rates in red states like Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, have statistically exceeded those in blue states like Illinois, New Mexico, and Michigan every year since 2000.”
For his part, Gosar used the oversight hearing to question Bowser about relatively rare side effects of the COVID vaccine.
A senior aide to a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, who requested anonymity since they were not authorized to discuss the issue, suggested that Democratic staffers know that individuals with extremist views are a reality in today’s Congress, including far-right GOP lawmakers and members of their staff.
“No one was surprised in our office,” the staffer said of TPM’s report. “In today’s GOP, it’s sadly not surprising to see far-right views like this in lawmakers’ offices. We saw the same thing on Jan. 6.”
TPM asked Gosar directly about the evidence linking his staff to the far right as he walked off the House floor after a vote on Tuesday.
“You have to contact my communications,” Gosar said.
After we reminded Gosar that we reached out to him and his press team about this multiple times, he declined to answer questions.
“No comment,” Gosar said.
This post has been updated.