Some of the leading MAGA voices in Arizona are giving political cover to far-right extremism by supporting the America First Political Action Conference organized by white nationalist Nick Fuentes.
The Daily Beast explained the conference "derives its name from a merger of Fuentes’ America First podcast and the event it is designed to siphon crowds from: the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)."
The CPAC conference has been a mainstay in GOP politics for decades, but Fuentes' counter-programming conference has been embraced by top Arizona Republicans, who went all-in on Trump's "big lie" of election fraud with the widely-panned Cyber Ninjas' "audit" of the vote in Maricopa County.
"Arizona’s Rep. Paul Gosar opened for Fuentes at last year’s AFPAC conference and has continued to root for the young white nationalist. Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers, popular with Trump and other 2020 election deniers nationwide, has also sung Fuentes’ praises online. Both Arizona politicians are slated to appear at AFPAC this weekend, in addition to former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio and Iowa Rep. Steve King, both of whom hold notoriety for harboring unusually cruel anti-immigrant attitudes. Trump-endorsed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake was advertised as a speaker on one iteration of the event’s flier, though she has since denied that she plans to attend," The Beast reported.
Writing for The Beast, domestic extremism researcher Jared Hold noted that Fuentes was once considered politically toxic.
"There was a period in time where associating with Fuentes and his posse’s naked extremism and hate was a mark of death on conservative political figures’ mainstream careers, and rightfully so. Though Fuentes often denies considering himself a white nationalist, he espouses the ideology verbatim in public settings often and specifically. Fuentes also regularly proclaims anti-semitic beliefs; he has engaged in Holocaust denialism and once denounced far-right commentator Matt Walsh as a 'shabbos goy race traitor' because Walsh, who is white, works for an outlet run by conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, who is Jewish," Holt reported. "Fuentes was a leading figure in 2020’s 'Stop the Steal' election-denial movement and has been resultantly subpoenaed by the House committee investigating the Capitol riot. At last year’s AFPAC, Fuentes praised the deadly attack and told the crowd at his conference that 'we need a little bit more of that energy in the future.'”
The month following Trump's 2020 defeat to Joe Biden, Fuentes led a crowd at a "Stop the Steal" rally in booing Shapiro.
"There has been an apparent lack of interest in condemning or correcting those who have effectively sanitized Fuentes to a portion of the post-Capitol riot conservative landscape. After attending last year’s AFPAC conference, Gosar appeared on a panel at CPAC the next morning without fuss from CPAC organizers or other conference speakers. This indifference has enabled Fuentes to expand his tent to include more far-right figures," The Beast reported. "This year’s conference will also host an expanded rogues gallery of extremist movement figures and disgraced far-right media personalities. Gavin McInnes, the Canadian media figure who founded the violent Proud Boys group, is new to this year’s roster. So is Milo Yiannopolous, who fell from his one-time throne in conservative media after an audio clip emerged in which he appeared to defend pedophilia."
Read the full report.