Denizens of Rachel, Nev., a small town on the edge of the road to the mysterious Area 51 military base are having a close encounter of the white supremacist kind.
The deserts surrounding Area 51 are ground zero for UFO sightings and alien abductions, but some local residents who have been unfazed by the rumored extraterrestrial activity were alarmed to learn a man who has been buying up real estate in the area has a history of ties to neo Nazi groups.
“I was in shock. I didn’t want to believe,” Pat Travis, a co-owner of Rachel’s sci fi-themed Little A’Le’Inn told Las Vegas television station KLAS.
According to KLAS, Richard Bunck has recently purchased a trailer park and RV lot in Rachel as well as the town’s only gas station and convenience store. After making these purchases, KLAS reported that Bunck closed down the properties. Bunck previously made headlines while running for city council in California in 1998 when reporters uncovered the fact he was arrested at a Nazi rally in 1971 and photographed by police a year later standing under a swastika and wearing a Nazi uniform at another rally.
Bunck initially denied attending the rallies, the Los Angeles Times reported at the time. But on the night before the election, Bunck conceded that he was involved with neo-Nazi groups decades earlier. He said he only participated in white supremacist activities as an FBI informant. After losing the election, Bunck fully admitted his past as a neo-Nazi and said he was convinced to change his ways by a Baptist pastor named John Hale McGee.
However, reporters also unearthed evidence of McGee’s ties to Nazis during that 1998 election. As Bunck ran for City Council, McGee tried to win a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives with Bunck serving as his campaign manager. McGee’s bid was derailed after reporters found law enforcement files showing that, in 1977, McGee opened a bookstore called JHM Baptist Books where he displayed a swastika on the wall and distributed fliers encouraging customers to “find out the truth about the Nazis.”
Like Bunck, McGee denied allegations he was a neo-Nazi and said he only mingled with skinheads to convert them to Christianity. In spite of these denials, in 1999, the LA Times spoke to experts from the Simon Wiesenthal center and neo-Nazis who said McGee was indeed a white supremacist.
“Most of his best friends are Nazis,” Tom Metzger, the founder of the White Aryan Resistance, said of McGee. “The problem with a lot of right-wing racial types who want public office is they lie about their views.”
Though KLAS said McGee has since passed away, there are indications Bunck’s current activities in Rachel are linked to his former friend and their neo-Nazi past. KLAS reported Bunck transferred his properties to a company under the name JHM Baptist Church, using the same initials McGee’s former bookstore. Bunck also operates a contracting business in Las Vegas called JHM of Nevada Inc.
KLAS said they were unable to reach Bunck, who angrily confronted a Rachel resident who asked about his past. Bunck also has not responded to a request for comment from TPM.