On Friday, the Pittsburgh City Paper reported that Tony Moreno, a former police officer who launched a write-in bid for Pittsburgh mayor as a Republican after losing the Democratic primary, has praised a far-right militia group with potential ties to white supremacy.
"Moreno has apparently taken his campaign to an even more extreme level after meeting with and praising a local far-right militia group called Iron City Citizens Response Unit, a group that sports and highlights a symbol that has been linked to anti-government extremism and white nationalism," reported Ryan Deto. "In an Aug. 10 post on his personal Facebook page — which he often uses for campaigning — Moreno shared a photo of IC CRU leader Matt Wakulik and wrote, 'Well, thanks these warriors.' Wakulik is wearing military garb and carrying an assault rifle over his chest in the photograph."
The report also noted that members of the militia were "wearing patches showing a symbol called a Valknot, or Valknut," which the anti-Defamation League says "is an old Norse symbol that often represented the afterlife and the Norse god Odin" and that has gained some popularity with white supremacist groups.
According to the report, Moreno denied any connection to white supremacy when asked about his ties to this group, saying, "I unequivocally, without hesitancy, denounce white supremacy, their organizations, their motivations and their hateful messages. I am Hispanic and Native American and a minority, so I have no tolerance for hate in any form and will not associate or work with groups who support white nationalism."
Moreno has attracted sharp controversy while running for the Democratic nomination, owing to his attacks on Democratic figures.
He praised former President Donald Trump in old social media posts, called people who oppose Trump "vermin," called former President Barack Obama a "fake Christian," referred to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) as a Hispanic-hating racist, and spouted a slogan associated with the QAnon conspiracy theory.