Current and former members of the far-right gang the Proud Boys have successfully infiltrated the Miami-Dade Republican Party and are setting off fears of a militant takeover of the state party.
The New York Times reports that "at least a half-dozen current and former Proud Boys... have secured seats on the Miami-Dade Republican Executive Committee, seeking to influence local politics from the inside."
Among them are two men who are facing criminal charges for their roles in the January 6th riots at the United States Capitol building.
René García, the chairman of the approximately 125-member Republican committee in Miami-Dade County, admitted to the Times that his party has "fringe elements" but insisted that "my job as Republican chairman is to protect everyone’s First Amendment right, however wrong they may be."
Miami-Dade County was once the political base of arch-establishment Republican Jeb Bush, who was regularly mocked by former President Donald Trump during his 2016 campaign run.
In an interview with the Times, Jeb Bush declined to comment on the Proud Boys' influence on his party.
“I am out of party politics and can’t comment on what is going on now,” he said.
The Times notes that it is not yet clear what the Proud Boys intend to do with their political influence, although last year they took part in protests against school boards who were supposedly pushing "critical race theory" on students.
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