An avowed white supremacist, an anti-Muslim pastor and an indicted anti-government activist walk into … the Republican National Convention?
That scenario was possible—if only for a day—as William Johnson, Guy St. Onge and Gerald “Jerry” DeLemus were all slated to attend the GOP convention as Trump supporters from California and New Hampshire.
But Johnson, a prominent white nationalist leader, and St. Onge, an anti-Muslim pastor, quickly announced they’d resign from Trump’s California delegate slate after that list was published this week. DeLemus, who played a role in Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s armed standoff with federal authorities in 2014, was still listed an alternate Trump delegate from the Granite State on a list furnished by the state party on Friday afternoon.
Trump’s strong rhetoric about immigrants and Muslims has resonated with anti-government activists of all stripes. While the candidate has occasionally had to publicly distance himself from some of his more extreme backers – like former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke – the billionaire has mostly glossed over the fringe-y types backing his campaign, saying he appeals to “everyone.”
Here’s a look at three of Trump’s most infamous supporters that the campaign has put forward as Republican National Committee delegates.
Johnson, a Los Angeles lawyer, has a long history of advocating for white separatist causes, including the creation of “a white ethno-state.” He leads the American Freedom Party, which “exists to represent the political interests of White Americans,” and launched the American National Super PAC to back Trump’s candidacy.
The super PAC was behind pro-Trump robocalls to voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont and Minnesota which framed the billionaire as the man to stop “white genocide.” He also created a hotline for Trump supporters to report feeling “marginalized,” and once proposed a constitutional amendment to strip non-white Americans of their citizenship.
Johnson appeared on the delegate list submitted to the California secretary of state’s office ahead of the Monday deadline. After Mother Jones reported Tuesday that Johnson was on the list, Trump’s campaign first claimed the report was “totally false,” but later attributed it to a “database error.” The secretary of state’s office said the deadline for changes had passed, however.
After a lawyer for the California Republican Party argued party rules “supersede” state election code, the secretary of state’s office added a note on its site directing users to the party’s updated list, noting it had changed after the state’s own deadline.
Johnson offered the campaign his resignation after the outcry. He remains on the state’s official list of pledged Trump delegates but is absent from the California GOP’s updated list.
Guy St. Onge
As the Guardian US first reported, St. Onge has a very active social media presence, taking to Tumblr to call First Lady Michelle Obama a “tranny” and posting praise for Trump on Facebook alongside memes about killing Muslims and Bible scripture.
One post reads: “Allah SUCKS, Mohammed SUCKS, Islam SUCKS, Any of you Hadji’s have an issue with me saying this, PM me and I’ll gladly give you my address. You can come visit me, where I promise I will KILL YOU In my front yard!!”
In a lengthy biography on one of his Facebook pages, St. Onge describes himself as having been invited to join a motorcycle gang, lived in his car, and done hard drugs before he started attending church and was baptized in September 1995.
St. Onge told the newspaper he stepped down as a Trump delegate of his own accord, saying he was willing to “take one for the team.”
While he is still listed as an official delegate on the state’s rolls, St. Onge doesn’t appear on the state GOP’s updated list.
DeLemus, a Tea Party organizer from the Granite State who is also the co-chairman of state’s arm of Veterans for Trump, was indicted in early March on federal charges stemming from his role in the 2014 armed standoff with federal authorities over grazing fees at Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada. He is currently being held in Nevada awaiting trial.
Among the nine charges DeLemus was arrested on were conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, assault on a federal officer, interfering with commerce by extortion, and gun charges, according to the Union-Leader newspaper.
Two months before the indictment, DeLemus praised another armed standoff, the takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge led by Bundy’s sons, as a “peaceful” stand against “thug-like, terroristic” government action.
While DeLemus was named as an alternate Trump delegate for New Hampshire weeks after his indictment. Asked whether the Trump campaign would keep DeLemus on its slate, a spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal in March that “it’s not up to me, I’m just the press secretary.”
Ross Berry, executive director of the New Hampshire GOP, told TPM he spoke with the Trump campaign as recently as Friday and staffers had not proposed any changes to the list. The campaigns “hand pick” their delegates in the state, and Berry said the list is not yet finalized.
The campaign did not respond Friday morning to TPM’s request for clarification on DeLemus’ status.
This post has been updated.