Republican star Lauren Boebert spins fables about her childhood — but the real story is better

Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, a right-wing Republican and prominent member of the "Sedition Caucus," frequently speaks about her upbringing in a family struggling with poverty, describing herself as a "welfare child." Boebert has even blamed the liberal ideals held by her mother as the reason why her family was poor and required government assistance during her childhood.

But both in Washington circles and in speaking to voters in her Colorado district, Boebert has not discussed in detail exactly what circumstances landed the future right-wing firebrand and her mother in this disadvantaged situation. An investigation by Salon suggests that it had less to do with liberal ideology and more to do with her mother's failure to obtain the child support payments to which she was rightfully entitled.

Boebert's mother, Shawn Roberts Bentz, tried valiantly for years to receive child support. — and it appears likely that she and her daughter fell victim to a corrupt phlebotomist, a professional wrestler turned deadbeat dad and a negligent North Carolina child support system that allowed Bentz's case to slide through the cracks.

Boebert has occasionally been asked what role her biological father played in her family's struggles, and has repeatedly declined to answer. Exactly who her father was, in fact, remains officially uncertain: No father's name was listed on her 1986 Florida birth certificate, nor in the local newspaper's birth announcement.

But both Boebert and Bentz apparently believe that her father is Wallace Stanfield Lane, a former North Carolina pro wrestler known in the trade as "Sweet" Stan Lane — and there is significant evidence to back up that theory.

Boebert and her mother believe that Lane may have engaged in fraud regarding a paternity test he took more than 30 years ago that appeared to rule him out as Boebert's father.

Karen Weary, the North Carolina phlebotomist who took Lane's blood sample in July of 1990, was convicted of switching samples in a different case. Once child support services in North Carolina found out about this, they were mandated to notify everyone involved in Weary's cases and retest all the samples she had taken that excluded fathers.

But Boebert's mother was never notified, and Lane was never retested.

As her birth certificate makes clear, Lauren Opal Roberts was born in Orlando, Florida, on Dec. 19, 1986. Her mother, Shawn Elaine Roberts, was 18 years old and unmarried. As mentioned above, no father was listed either on the birth certificate or in a birth announcement published a few weeks later in the Orlando Sentinel.

(Record above obtained by Salon.)

Two months after Boebert's birth her mother opened a child support case against Wallace Stan Lane, who, under the name "Sweet" Stan Lane was a member of at least two pro wrestling tag teams, the Midnight Express and the Fabulous Ones.

Over the course of Salon's reporting on the matter, MEL Magazine published a detailed report on Lane and the paternity dispute, nailing down many of the details also used in this story. Lane was a prominent professional wrestler who performed several times in central Florida around the time of Boebert's conception in early 1986. He was 33 years old when Boebert was born, and by all accounts was financially solvent. (He also had a reputation in the wrestling game as a ladies' man.)

Shawn Roberts' child support case was first filed in Orange County, Florida, where Lauren had been born, but was then moved to nearby Seminole County, where Lane was eventually ordered to pay child support of $100 per week or $430 per month. At the time of the judgment, Boebert's mother was working full-time at a convenience store called Handy Way for $4 an hour, then the minimum wage. Her average take-home check would have been about $650 a month, which even 30-plus years ago was well below the federal poverty line. (The extra $100 a week would have put Roberts and her daughter just above that level, in 1987-88 standards.)

It appears that Lane made few, if any, of those mandated child support payments, although his pro wrestling career continued and there's no evidence he was in financial distress. Lane admitted he had had sexual relations with Roberts, according to court records reviewed by Salon, and Roberts swore in an affidavit that she had not had sex with anyone other than Lane at the time her daughter was conceived.

Roberts finally had papers served on Lane that compelled him to take a paternity test, which he did in the summer of 1990, when Lauren was 3 years old. That test, administered by the above-mentioned Karen Weary, appeared to rule out Lane as the girl's father. So the child support case was closed, and Lane was no longer required to pay Shawn Roberts anything.

That, however, was not the end of the story.

Years later, Roberts apparently learned that Weary was subsequently convicted for taking a $500 bribe from a former NFL player in a strikingly similar case, involving a blood sample collected just two months later than Lane's, in September 1990.

In both cases, Weary collected a sample at the Department of Child Support Enforcement and then delivered it to a company called Genetic Design for testing. This story became big news in North Carolina in 1993 when Weary's corrupt scheme was exposed, but by then Roberts and her daughter had moved from Florida to the Denver area and never learned of it. They also never learned that Genetic Design offered "to retest, at no cost," all samples drawn by Weary that excluded a man from a paternity case. Weary, also known as Karen Best Sherow, died in 2012, before Lauren Boebert or her mother discovered Weary's involvement in criminal blood-sample switching.

In October 2012 Boebert's mother, who by then was known as Shawn (or Shawna) Roberts Bentz and lived in Rifle, Colorado, contacted the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation to ask for an investigation of Lane, whom she believed was shirking his responsibilities. Records indicate that throughout 2013 Bentz contacted numerous other agencies, including the Mecklenburg County District Attorney, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, and court clerks in both Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, and Seminole County, Florida, asking that Lane's case be reopened on the matter. She could not rouse the bureaucracy in any of those agencies to pay attention.

One letter that Boebert's mother wrote to Seminole County Superior Court in 2013 specifically called for a new paternity test. Bentz wrote:

Her father is Stan Lane a former professional wrestler who at that time was a member of the tag team The Fabulous Ones. When Stan learned I was pregnant, he encouraged me to have an abortion and said that the child would be damaged because of the steroids he had taken. … Stan did end our relationship when he learned I was pregnant and soon fled the state of Florida.

Bentz's letter, reproduced below (with some of her personal information redacted), includes a number of other compromising or incriminating details about Lane's 1990 paternity test, including the suggestion by Charlotte newspapers that Karen Weary may have falsified numerous other tests and the fact that the photograph used to identify Lane at the time appeared to be a staged publicity shot rather than a candid portrait. Bentz also included a letter from Cindi Straughn, a cousin of Stan Lane's, who wrote to Lane urging him to cooperate and saying that Straughn believed Lauren Boebert to be his daughter.

Despite Bentz's considerable efforts, Stan Lane — long retired from pro wrestling and more recently an announcer for speedboat races — has never taken a second paternity test and has continued to insist that Lauren Boebert, now a nationally known figure in conservative politics, is not his child.

Boebert's congressional office did not return a request for comment on this story. Salon's attempts to reach Shawn Roberts Bentz and Stan Lane for comment were unsuccessful.

MyPillow guy Mike Lindell is mad at Fox News — so he's going to pay them more money: report

MyPillow CEO and election-fraud booster Mike Lindell, who is one of Fox News' top advertisers, isn't pleased with the right-wing network over its failure to promote — or cover, or even mention, for that matter — his upcoming "cyber symposium" event scheduled for mid-August in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Lindell has long promised that this event will unveil data conclusively proving that Trump was the real winner of the 2020 election, musing earlier this week that a billion people might tune in and it could become a bigger phenomenon than Elvis Presley's legendary 1973 "Aloha From Hawaii" concert.

This article originally appeared at Salon.

In a phone interview on Friday afternoon, Lindell told Salon he plans to place ads on Fox News, since the conservative network continues to ignore his media blitz endeavoring to "get the word out" about his symposium. "Fox [News] does not talk about anything with the election," the pillow king lamented. "So I'm going to make ads that will talk about — at least advertising for — that we're going to be televising this [cyber symposium] for 72 hours straight."

Lindell explained that the ads tailored for Fox News will be geared towards spreading "awareness" to Fox's viewers, who are overwhelmingly Republicans and Trump voters: "I just want their viewership to watch it, so we don't have to go out the next day and say, 'Hey, did you watch that?'"

Asked by Salon if he's already made the ad buy or contacted the network about his plans, Lindell explained he hadn't done that yet, since the ads had not been produced. "I gotta make them!" he said.

A Fox News spokesperson didn't return a Salon request for comment.

A day earlier, the man who has brought better sleep to millions vented his anger at Fox News in an exclusive interview with Salon on Thursday afternoon. He suggested Salon should ask the network why it has remained silent on the Sioux Falls event and Lindell's ever more ambitious goals — which include a 9-0 Supreme Court decision that returns Trump to the White House, by an unknown mechanism. "Shame on Fox that they haven't come," he said. "You should reach out to them!"

The symposium is slated for Aug. 10 to 12, and according to Lindell, will show the world that the so-far baseless claims of widespread voter fraud in from the 2020 election are in fact 100% valid, leading to Trump's reinstatement.

"Fox News has refused to cover election fraud, especially the machines," Lindell wrote in a text message to Salon after the interview. "Shame on Fox News!"

This is not the beginning of the pillow CEO's feud with Fox News. In April, Lindell announced he had hired a team of "private investigators" to dig into the network's reluctance to cover his election-fraud endeavors, saying he had "spent a lot of money" on the probe. No results of such an investigation have been revealed.

Candace Owens wants Tomi Lahren canceled

Pro-Trump pundit Candace Owens has suggested that Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren should be barred from speaking at Turning Point USA's youth gathering in the future after Lahren's positive comments about Caitlyn Jenner.

Owens' remarks, which seem reminiscent of the "cancel culture" she has often attacked, were made Wednesday morning on TPUSA founder Charlie Kirk's podcast.

Owens expressed dismay that the conservative movement's "big-tent philosophy says that we need to be more like the left." She continued, "In fact, I think Turning Point should kick out more people from their conferences."

Owens mentioned the "conservative porn star" who was booted from TPUSA's weekend event in Tampa, before moving on to Caitlyn Jenner.

"I've been like kinda hitting — when I found out Tomi Lahren endorsed Bruce Jenner, I mean Caitlyn Jenner, I mean, I don't know how to do this," Owens said, "dead-naming" Jenner. (That is, using the name she was known by before her transition.) Owens suggested that the big-tent analogy did not apply "when you're talking about positions of power." She went on, "And you're saying you're endorsing transgenderism, which is one of the biggest threats to the pillar of faith. Let's not forget, faith came before the Constitution."

"And these people are now antithetical in calling themselves conservatives," Owens continued. "If you do anything that is against the family unit, you are not a conservative."

Owens, who founded the BLEXIT Foundation —dedicated to urging young Black people to leave the Democratic Party — went on to say that Lahren shouldn't have been allowed to speak at the TPUSA event.

"You shouldn't have let Tomi Lahren speak after she endorsed Bruce Jenner," Owens said, before Kirk raised his hand and responded, "Well ..." Owens then appeared to backtrack somewhat, adding, "Or maybe to debate her ideas, I think we should allow a forum to debate."

In response to the Owens remark, the editor-at-large of the conservative blog RedState tweeted, "So stupid. Tomi Lahren can endorse whomever she wishes, as can Candace Owens. Neither one of them can vote here anyway, so this is all for clicks and giggles. Candace needs to calm down. You doin too much, boo."

"Trying to cancel other female conservatives has to get boring, no?" added far-right former GOP candidate Kimberly Klacik, who has a history of feuding with Owens.

You can watch the segment below via, YouTube:

Candace Owens Sounds Off onPornstars & Fake 'Conservatives'

Right-wing activist Charlie Kirk pushes followers to make TSA workers' lives miserable with anti-mask 'game'

Conservative firebrand and youth right-wing organizer Charlie Kirk has encouraged his young followers to play a "game" based on deliberately making life difficult for TSA employees at airports around the country.

Kirk's remarks came at Turning Point USA's annual summer gathering in Tampa, where conservative college and high school students congregated to hear from a star lineup of TrumpWorld speakers.

"A 'micro-tyrant' is a term that we came up [with] on our podcast," Kirk said, elaborating that he means "the type of person at Starbucks who has way too much power, that no one voted for, that never ran for office, that will start screaming at you because you have your mask one millimeter below your nose."

Kirk then commenced a lengthy narrative, beginning with a tale about a recent Starbucks encounter.

"I'll tell you a story about a micro-tyrant where I went into a Starbucks in California, and there was like this ridiculous, arbitrary line, and I reached over to go get a straw, and she just comes up to me said, 'Sir, you are contributing to the spread of the killer coronavirus.' ... Because I went three inches. I said, 'No one voted for you, OK? ... You have way too much power.'"

The frequent Fox News guest, known for his bewildering remarks at previous TPUSA gatherings, continued by sharing a different story about how he and his team harass TSA agents as they try to do their jobs.

"I have a TSA story I could go through as well," Kirk began. "There's this woman without a mask, looking at her phone. I try to — by the way, you guys should all play this game alongside of me; it's a lot of fun. It's how far can you get through the airport without them telling you to put on a mask? All of you guys, it's really fun." Kirk then asked his audience if any of them had successfully boarded planes without wearing masks. Some students in the crowd raised their hands, and Kirk responded, "That's awesome!"

Kirk went on to declare that a member of his team had been successful at the "game" and "broke through" at the airport while defying the current federal mandate to wear a mask.

Kirk also claimed that a member of his TPUSA team had been threatened with arrest by a TSA agent, before mocking the agent's authority. "First of all, you have way too much power," he said. "Like, that might be a real badge, but you're not deputized in the name of the law. Like, you don't have handcuffs, you know?"

Kirk concluded by describing the entire "game" as a way to "fight against the little things," adding, "I'm not a big rule person. I like tightly written rules that everyone can understand, maybe 10 or 12."

On Monday, Kirk doubled down on advocating his mask "game," stating that it involved taking a "risk in pursuit of a good thing."

In other circumstances, encouraging right-wing teens to defy travel regulations for no discernible reason might have generated headlines. But Kirk has faced other challenges during the four-day TPUSA conference in Tampa, including banning a "conservative porn star" and evicting white nationalist "groypers" who have tried to invade the event.

Watch Kirk's speech below, via YouTube:

Capto Capture 2021 07 19 01 19 40 PM

Turning Point USA's right-wing youth gathering derailed by 'conservative' adult film star

Turning Point USA, the right-wing youth student organization led by Charlie Kirk, found itself in an unusual controversy Friday night after "conservative pornstar" Brandi Love was allowed into a Florida conference and welcomed as an "Adult VIP," sparking backlash.

This article first appeared In Salon.

The drama began early in the night when the adult entertainer's presence in Tampa was first discovered by a follower of white nationalist Nicholas Fuentes and former Kansas State student Jaden McNeil, who wrote on Telegram, "Turning Point USA has a pornstar as a VIP at their Student Action Summit."

"Imagine sending your kids to this conference thinking they're gonna learn about Christian Conservative values, and they come home with photos with pornstars," he added, attaching a photo of Love snapping a picture with a TPUSA attendee.

Quickly thereafter, white nationalist "groypers" began to approach Love both in person at the event and feverishly online, hurling insults again and again at the adult star.

After a while more mainstream conservative figures and student activists began to join in as well, calling out Turning Point USA for the alleged misstep. "A new low for TPUSA. Zero class left in that organization," Liberty University student Carley Dehnisch said. Right-wing writer Alec Sears penned, "Absolutely fucking speechless that 'conservative' org TPUSA has invited an actual porn star to a conference that minors attend." Young America's Foundation (YAF) intern Jacob Porwisz wrote, "Great job TPUSA, for inviting a porn star to their conference that features kids under 17; very conservative of them!"

Reached for comment by Salon, TPUSA spokesperson Andrew Kolvet declined to comment on the drama. Shortly thereafter, Love was banned from the gathering.

"We regret to inform you that your SAS 2021 invitation has been revoked," an email from TPUSA stated, posted to Twitter by the adult entertainer. "This decision is final. This revocation does not impact application to future events, and we hope that you will consider applying again in the future."

However, Love wasn't buying it and said the Republican Party is "broken" due to TPUSA officials giving her the boot. "Can't make this shit up lol!! I just watched Charlie Kirk, Dan Bongino, Rick Scott, Kat Timpf, speak about freedom, censorship, how inclusive the 'movement' is," she stated. "And then they had me thrown out of the Turning Point USA conference. The Republican Party is broken."

While many right-wingers cheered the ban on Love, an unlikely opposition force led by Federalist co-founder and frequent Fox News guest Ben Domenech also emerged: "I'm disappointed that TPUSA kicked out Brandi Love for no reason whatsoever. She's a Florida conservative businesswoman who loves America," he tweeted. "The right has an opportunity to be the big tent party. Don't be a bunch of prudes."

As of Sunday morning, the ban remained.

Turning Point USA is no stranger to such type of controversy, as back in December of 2020, the organization came under fire during their Student Action Conference in Palm Beach, Florida, over Bang Energy's "Bang Girls" blasting free cash into the crowd of college and high school students.

CPAC's Dallas conference was a carnival of extremists and conspiracy theorists

Last weekend's Conservative Political Action Conference gathering in Dallas was often strange and sometimes outright deranged. Far-right Proud Boys served as "personal security" to various participants, while members of the Oath Keepers threatened journalists (this reporter included). White nationalists, both overt and slightly more subtle, seemed to be everywhere. No conspiracy theories were too far-fetched for the CPAC crowd, which was tangibly excited to hear from Sunday's keynote speaker, a certain disgraced and twice-impeached former president of the United States.

This article first appeared in Salon.

On Friday evening, Salon was first to spot Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers militia group, who was not pleased to be asked why he was attending the CPAC gathering while being under FBI investigation for his alleged role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Over the course of the weekend, Salon identified other allies of Rhodes at the conference, some of whom repeatedly harassed this reporter, both in public and otherwise.

The Proud Boys organization — also linked to Jan. 6, as well as many other less noteworthy instances of street violence — was also in attendance, offering its services to conference-goers as "personal security." Two members of the Proud Boys, George (Asher) Meza and Alexander John Bouzakis, agreed to speak with Salon and admitted to being on the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, although both said they did not enter the building. They said that numerous CPAC attendees approached them over the course of the weekend to "thank them."

"The Proud Boys offer security for anyone who needs security, and that's what we're doing here," Meza said. Both explained that they were especially valuable in a security role because they could take "additional steps" not available to the Dallas Police Department.

White nationalist youth guru Nicholas Fuentes, along with members of his "groyper army," also appeared at the gathering over the weekend. Fuentes and his followers are seen as too extreme even by many members of the Trump movement, and are not welcomed at Charlie Kirk's Turning Point USA conferences, for instance. Ahead of CPAC, Fuentes suggested on Twitter that a "physical" altercation with security at CPAC Dallas might ensue, which left conference staff on edge going into the weekend. (In the event, Fuentes was not involved in any significant confrontations.)

Many advocates of many different conspiracy theories made their way into the event, including those hawking QAnon-themed merchandise, which has generally been banned from Trump's official rallies.

At one booth, a whole range of QAnon T-shirts were on display, and by Sunday, the day Trump spoke to the juiced-up crowd, many attendees could be seen wearing them.

Will Sommer, a reporter for the Daily Beast and author of an upcoming book on the QAnon movement, "Trust the Plan," told Salon the prevalence of QAnon merchandise makes clear how far the conspiracy theory has penetrated the so-called conservative mainstream.

"I think it's surprising to see something as bizarre as QAnon at CPAC, whose organizers usually work pretty hard to gatekeep what counts as 'acceptable' conservatism," Sommer said. "On the other hand, it makes sense that we're seeing Q shirts pop up at CPAC right as QAnon increasingly makes its way into the party." He pointed out that Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican, and former Texas GOP chairman Allen West — now a candidate for governor — appeared at a QAnon convention in Dallas just two months ago.

Among the most imaginative conspiracy theories visible in Dallas was one presenting a plan to reinstate Donald Trump as president "in days, not years." This was the brainchild of CPAC attendee Robert Antonellis, who also appears to be the author of self-published books entitled "Culture War Cracked" and "Fortress Harvard." At the conference, he was handing out flashcard-sized pamphlets that outlined a "7-pt. plan to restore Donald J. Trump."

Antonellis told Salon that many conference-goers had taken a "liking" to his message, and that he had handed out more than 400 of the pamphlets. His theory is difficult to summarize, but proposes that Trump will return to the White House very shortly thanks to the exposure of a satanic pedophile cabal, the revelation that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were a "false flag" operation, and something having to do with Martin Luther King Jr.

American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp, who oversees operations at CPAC, told Salon on Sunday that it was not realistic to prevent far-right extremists or apparently deranged conspiracy theorists from attending his conference.

"You want me to go through every person who buys a ticket to CPAC and check every post like Mark Zuckerberg does and try to cancel as many people as possible?" Schlapp asked rhetorically. "I'm not in that movement; I'm in the other movement. I'm in the movement of freedom and First Amendment rights, and a part of the First Amendment is you can believe things that are obnoxious."

Asked whether he was aware that members of the Proud Boys were in attendance, Schlapp suggested that Salon was misinformed, saying, "I don't think that's right." He then argued that members of the right-wing fringe have the "freedom" to attend as long as they buy tickets and do not break the law.

"You're trying to characterize the people at this conference as somehow not being good, decent Americans," Schlapp said. "You are doing them a disservice. Don't smear them." He claimed that 99.9% of conference attendees have nothing to do with extremist elements, but concluded, "I cannot be responsible for people that go online, purchase a ticket and use their credit card."

Matt Gaetz allies promoted an 'official' CPAC speech — but the conference wants nothing to do with him

DALLAS — Volunteers for a right-wing organization at the Conservative Political Action Conference spent Sunday morning promoting an "official" event featuring a speech Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., posting signs sponsored by a group called "Look ahead America" — though a CPAC official told Salon the event was never sanctioned at all.

The conference sought to distance itself from the embattled Congressman by confiscating several signs and handouts for the speech, which read "join Look Ahead America's official CPAC event featuring Representative Matt Gaetz and Colonel Allen West."

Originally posted on

A CPAC official (middle) confiscates a "Look Ahead America" sign at the Conservative Political Action Conference Sunday. (Zachary Petrizzo/Salon)

The conference took action against the unsanctioned event, which was being held in a different section of the Dallas Hilton Anatole than the rest of the conference, after CPAC Executive Director Regina Bratton said she received questions from Secret Service agents preparing for an appearance by former President Trump.

The whole debacle kicked off just before noon on Sunday, when security personnel approached a "Look Ahead America" volunteer holding a sign which read, "Matt Gaetz & Allen West Event," with a large arrow pointing attendees outside of CPAC's security checkpoint and into a second-floor ballroom at the hotel.

Moments later, "Look Ahead America" organizers attempted to leave the booth area at the conference only to have another one of their signs promoting the event seized.

A Look Ahead America official brushed off the signs being taken, telling Salon they hadn't had previous contact with any CPAC officials. In a subsequent tweet, Matt Braynard, the executive director of "Look Ahead America" called CPAC's statement a "100% lie."

"It is an official #CPACTX event. @LookAheadOrg is a CPAC sponsor and the room/event was part of our sponsor package. SecretService said we couldn't have signs near the main ball room due 2 security. @mattgaetz and @AllenWest gave great speeches!"

The unsanctioned event was headlined by Gaetz, who is under investigation by the FBI over allegations he violated federal sex trafficking laws and maintained a sexual relationship with a minor. He was, notably, not listed as a speaker on any official CPAC schedule, though Salon spotted the embattled lawmaker palling around the conference all weekend long.

Gaetz, when approached about the conference claiming it did not recognize his event, said, "Well, I spoke at noon," adding, "there were a lot of people there, I spoke."

Matt Gaetz greeting supporters at the Conservative Political Action Conference. (Zachary Petrizzo/Salon)

The dust-up isn't the first time Gaetz has found himself persona non grata by event organizers recently — earlier this week a hotel in California canceled an event the Congressman was planning with fellow Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.

"As soon as we found out who the speakers were we immediately canceled it," the hotel's manager told the Orange County Register. "We just thought it would be best for our facility to cancel."

Look Ahead America also has a history of thumbing its nose at CPAC organizers — in February, the organization promoted and attended white nationalist Nicholas Fuentes' far-right gathering, "America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC)," which was created as a separate, rival conference to CPAC.

Oath Keepers militia founder spotted at CPAC

Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of right-wing militia group the Oath Keepers, was spotted by a Salon reporter Friday evening strolling the halls of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas, Texas.

This article originally appeared at Salon.

Multiple federal agencies are currently investigating the Oath Keepers for their alleged role in the planning and execution of the Jan. 6 insurrection — and though Rhodes did not himself enter the U.S. Capitol building that day, several members of his group did, according to news reports. As of this week, 16 Oath Keepers have been charged for their involvement in the storming of the Capitol building.

In the months since Jan. 6, Rhodes has voluntarily turned himself over for questioning by federal agents — against the advice of his attorneys, according to a New York Times. He reportedly told authorities that the only reason Oath Keeper members entered the Capitol that day was to provide aid after hearing someone inside had been shot, though the Times notes that an extensive investigation of visual evidence conducted by reporters was not able to verify the claims.

When asked why he was in attendance at the conservative conference, Rhodes quickly became enraged and yelled, "f**k off." A female associate, identified as Marcia Strickler on her CPAC pass, also came within inches of this reporter, yelling various obscenities.

CPAC security also approved Rhodes for an official pass, which was photographed by Salon Friday before the encounter.

Yet according to a high-ranking CPAC official that spoke with Salon exclusively on Friday evening, conference leaders have been in touch with federal law enforcement authorities to seek guidance as to whether Rhodes is considered a threat to attendees' safety and well being.

White nationalists prep for 'physical' altercation with security at Dallas CPAC conference

White nationalist and Unite the Right attendee Nicholas Fuentes, de facto leader of the ultra-far-right "groyper" movement, has announced that he plans to attend a Conservative Political Action Conference gathering this weekend in Dallas, although he has not been welcomed at previous CPAC events.

A years-long feud between Fuentes and CPAC organizers appeared to escalate on Wednesday after Fuentes' declaration.

"I'm going to CPAC in Dallas on Saturday," he tweeted to his loyal "groyper army," many of whom responded with excitement. "Well, most likely, I'll be getting physically removed from CPAC in Dallas on Saturday, but you can come watch if you want," he added.

"I will be there! Can't wait!" one follower responded to Fuentes' tweet. Another wrote, "groyper swarm incoming." In other online forums reviewed by Salon, many of Fuentes' followers posted plans to attend CPAC and partake in a "White Boy Summer" meetup in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Since 2019, Fuentes has made a point of showing up at CPAC gatherings, likely to create friction and push the bounds of acceptable rhetoric at the American Conservative Union's events, at times making participants and organizers distinctly uncomfortable.

This year will apparently be no different. At CPAC gatherings both last year and this year, Fuentes has staged his own competing event, dubbed the America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC), designed to make the more "mainstream" conservatives of CPAC appear to be RINOs or "cucks."

During the CPAC convention in Florida earlier in 2021, Fuentes attempted to enter the event along with a group of 25 or so fellow white nationalists. They were denied entry.

Fuentes didn't return a Salon request for comment on this story.

Jared Holt, a resident fellow at Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab and a former reporter for Right Wing Watch, discussed the fraught relationship between Fuentes and CPAC in an interview with Salon this week. "Nick Fuentes and his followers seem to only go to those conferences to antagonize other participants," Hold said in a phone interview. "It creates situations that have resulted in them being kicked out of the conference. I imagine if they have similar plans in Dallas ... their time inside the conference will be short-lived."

Holt added that Fuentes and the "groypers" see CPAC as a way to "boost their own visibility" and attempt to "siphon off" attendees from more mainstream conservative groups.

More mainstream Republican and conservative pundits, including fervent Donald Trump supporters, generally want nothing to do with Fuentes' overtly racist rhetoric, while he derides them as "shills." Some degree of confrontation is more than likely this weekend in Dallas, where Trump himself will deliver the keynote address on Sunday afternoon.

Kent State 'gun girl' Kaitlin Bennett is too extreme even for the Trump campaign?

Infamous right-wing activist and gun enthusiast Kaitlin Bennett, best known for her role in a Turning Point USA "diaper protest" that backfired in public humiliation, as well as for attempting to trigger liberals on college campuses, has an unusual problem on her hands: Donald Trump's official campaign-style operation wants nothing to do with her media website or her "reporting."

Bennett, who regularly attends TrumpWorld conferences such as the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and previous Donald Trump rallies, was denied press credentials to Trump's Sarasota, Florida, gathering last Saturday evening.

After being denied a press pass, Bennett took to social media to express her frustration over the situation. "We applied for media credentials for the upcoming Trump rally and were promptly denied. Why do the people around Trump keep trying to alienate their biggest supporters that have risked injury, doxxing, censorship, and harassment to promote his campaign?" she asked on the far-right social media site Gab, posting from her "Liberty Hangout" account.

A website notice from the Trump camp showing that both Bennett and her video producer had been denied press credentials was attached to the Gab message. Bennett has become a low-level MAGA Twitter celebrity by producing "person on the street"-style videos that are occasionally picked up by more prominent right-wing outlets, with the evident goal of generating outrage on the right over what liberals supposedly believe.

Bennett's rhetoric aimed at Trump's support personnel kept going. "Trump is banned from social media, as are many of his voters. Others are in jail for supporting him. The media won't cover his rallies," she wrote. "Those that do like RSBN get banned. Along comes Liberty Hangout with a reach of millions, and the Trump team bans us from giving a voice to his voiceless supporters. Apparently hoping that the left will one day like Trump is more important than the people that already do."

Former "Stop the Steal" organizer and far-right activist Ali Alexander also weighed in. "Trump staffers are always hurting Trump," he wrote. "Looks like Team Trump denied media credentials to Kaitlin Bennett and Justin Moldow (Liberty Hangout). What the hell is wrong with Trump's team?" Other pro-Trump Gab users also expressed outrage over Bennett not being credentialed.

Salon's request for comment to the Office of Donald Trump, which oversees Trump rallies, wasn't returned on Tuesday regarding the matter.

A right-wing radio pundit who is familiar with TrumpWorld drama, told Salon that they believe the press-credential snub could be related to Bennett's minor Twitter tiffs with fellow MAGA loyalists, such as Covington Catholic student turned Mitch McConnell campaign staffer Nicholas Sandmann. But that source still professed bewilderment about why the Trump camp would freeze Bennett out, given her 600,000-plus YouTube subscribers.

Bennett, a former InfoWars personality, made her first splash in TrumpWorld in 2018 after taking college graduation photos with a semi-automatic rifle slung over her shoulder. "I believe that if the government has it, we should have it. Machine guns — any weaponry," she told The Washington Post at the time, while protesting Kent State University's gun policy.

On Saturday, according to Vice News, two "QAnon influencers" were given press credentials to the Trump rally, which is not likely to soothe Bennett's fury.

Following publication, it was brought to the attention of Salon that Bennett reportedly espoused a series of anti-Semitic remarks in online forums with members of her "Liberty Hangout" organization. In addition, back in 2016, her group floated Holocaust denial in a Twitter poll asking followers if they "believe the Holocaust happened as we've been told," according to Snopes.

This post has been updated.

Right-wing blog silently deletes article claiming Roger Stone did 'nothing wrong' on Jan. 6

Right-wing outlet The Gateway Pundit silently deleted an article over the weekend written by Kristin Davis, a sidekick to veteran Republican operative Roger Stone, which cast blame for the U.S. Capitol attack of Jan. 6 onto the pro-Trump organization Women for America First, while arguing that Stone did nothing wrong in Washington on that infamous day.

Davis' lengthy defense, which Salon has archived, contends that Stone bore no responsibility for the events of Jan. 6, despite being pictured with members of the Proud Boys, who, according to Just Security, may have been involved in planning the Capitol attack.

"So what exactly happened on January 6th in Washington D.C. as it pertains to Roger Stone. The facts are simple and crystal clear," Davis wrote in the now-deleted post.

I booked Roger to speak at the Rally to Save America the night prior and was led to believe by Women for America First that he was supposed to speak the following afternoon on January 6th, at a rally they organized which featured President Donald J. Trump. After a completely peaceful rally on January 5th, which attracted thousands of brave American patriots, we woke up the next morning expecting to attend the rally at the Ellipse.

Davis goes on to claim that Women for America First was behind the ensuing chaos, notably tossing the group's leader, Amy Kremer, a prominent TrumpWorld figure, under the bus.

However, despite Women for America First promoting Stone as a speaker and insisting that they were sending a transport for Mr. Stone and our team to the Willard Hotel, the escort never came. As we were waiting, the staff at the Hotel Willard asked anyone congregating in the lobby to stay out of the cold to step outside in order to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines set forth by the Mayor of Washington D.C. A simple walk outside, which lasted mere minutes, is the first part of the dishonest conspiracy theory by the mainstream media and Democrat elected officials that Mr. Stone was somehow organizing the insurrection or had some sort of advance knowledge of what was going to happen later that day.

The article has been deleted and now links back to the website's landing page for a standard error message: "Not found, error 404. The page you are looking for no longer exists."

Stone didn't return Salon's request for comment on the matter, including whether he demanded the article be taken down. Gateway Pundit founder and editor Jim Hoft also did not return a Salon request for comment, leaving alert readers to wonder whether this deletion amounts to a retraction of Davis' claim that Roger Stone did nothing wrong on Jan. 6.

Feds zero in on Roger Stone's 'shady' condo purchase

Veteran Republican operative Roger Stone is yet again in the crosshairs of the Department of Justice, this time over after a questionable mortgage deal that is the centerpiece of an ongoing civil case which alleges he owes millions in back taxes.

This article first appeared in Salon.

"The government's complaint lays out a complicated scheme. It describes the condo purchase as an overt act of fraud, and claims a right to seize the property. Essentially, prosecutors say, Stone and his wife Nydia used $140,000 from a private company they already held (Drake Ventures) for a down payment on a condo," The Daily Beast reported on Friday. "Picking up the rest of the tab—almost exactly $400,000—was a mortgage lender."

The lender who provided Stone the loan in question spoke to the outlet and said they had been misled, adding that they "likely wouldn't have granted the loan if he had known the full picture."

Former IRS criminal investigator Martin Sheil cast doubt upon the idea that any lender could overlook the Stone's hefty legal problems, let alone miss them entirely while researching a potential deal.

"For this transaction, I'd use the term 'shady.' I don't know why anybody would loan them money," Sheil said. "The ignorance is profound, and I almost can't believe what you're telling me."

A lawyer representing Stone responded to the news, arguing that "nothing whatsoever improper" occurred. Following the publication of the Beast's story, the self-described "dirty-trickster" took aim at Roger Sollenberger, the Daily Beast reporter who penned the original piece.

"The trail of smears from the haters at the Daily Beast continue. There was nothing improper or illegal with my wife's down payment on a small condominium where she could live if I was railroaded to prison. Now Roger Sollenberger is attacking a woman battling stage four cancer," Stone wrote on the far-right social media site Gab. "Too many outrageous falsehoods in this piece to address here," he added, without citing a single one of those falsehoods.

Stone didn't return a Salon request for comment.

Kevin McCarthy's new explanation for rooming with GOP pollster Frank Luntz: 'I wanted to make sure he took his medication'

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has said he moved into longtime Republican pollster Frank Luntz's lavish Washington penthouse apartment in January to care for Luntz after the pollster suffered a stroke while doing a focus group for the Los Angeles Times a full year earlier, in January of 2020. This peculiar claim about the Luntz-McCarthy roommate situation appears to leave many questions unanswered, however.

McCarthy told former Fox News host turned right-wing podcaster Megyn Kelly that Luntz "took a turn on his health like a year or so ago. ... Frank has an apartment inside D.C., and I rented a room from him, and one of the reasons I did it is Frank had a stroke. You know Frank doesn't have family ... I wanted to make sure that he'd go on his walks, and he'd make sure to take care of his health."

McCarthy told Kelly that he lived with Luntz for "a number of months," adding, "I wanted to make sure he took his medication right. Did I rent a room? I rented a room."

There's no clear evidence that Luntz was in poor health in the period before McCarthy says he moved in to care for him. As Salon previously reported, Luntz did four focus groups for the Los Angeles Times in the fall of 2020, and his firm did two projects for McCarthy's leadership PAC in September and December of 2020. Luntz also embarked on an ambitious Netflix series called "Fridays With Frank," interviewing politicians like McCarthy and Sen. Tim Scott, professional sports figures, disgraced junk bond trader Michael Milken, ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway and many others.

Luntz recalled in a recent interview wanting to tackle McCarthy and not let him go as the latter walked into a fateful interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, in which McCarthy admitted that the Benghazi hearings were politically motivated to hurt Hillary Clinton.

"I should have stopped Kevin McCarthy from doing an interview with Sean Hannity about his temporary run for speaker," Luntz said. "I told him not to do it, and he insisted on doing it. And at the moment he was walking into the interview, I actually thought of tripping him, tackling him and not letting him go." Luntz said that not shutting down that interview was one of the worst mistakes of his life. That gaffe is widely believed to have cost McCarthy the House speakership in 2015.

As Salon recently reported, McCarthy's polling numbers continue to trend downward, even among fellow Republicans.

Trumpers go spy-crazy: Former president's senior advisor claims NSA spied on him and Steve Bannon in White House

Right-wing radio host and former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka has now claimed that he was spied on by the National Security Agency, joining a parade of evidence-free claims that began with Tucker Carlson Monday night on Fox News and continued with former Trump White House strategist Steve Bannon.

Gorka, a colorful if unpredictable figure of the early Trump administration, who was often seen on Fox News at the time railing against the "era of the pajama boy," made the accusation in a Newsmax broadcast on Tuesday evening.

"There is a part of the NSA, it is the most aggressive cyber arm of the NSA called the 'Tailored Access Operations,'" Gorka said, then claiming "there was a small unit of contractors in the TAO who had been tasked to actually surveil members of the Trump administration, me, Steve Bannon and others included."

Asked by Newsmax host Grant Stinchfield why he waited so long to bring forth this allegation now, the tough-talking right-wing radio host — infamous in D.C. for an inability to park his Mustang convertible correctly — appeared to duck the question.

Later in the interview, Gorka told Stinchfield that a "very highly respected journalist" has the evidence to back his claims, and that this unnamed person would come forward at a time yet to be determined.

Gorka went on to claim that his communications were being routed through Malaysia and treated as foreign communications — and therefore subject to NSA surveillance — in an elaborate scheme targeting Trump allies. He did not explain this strange accusation further.

Asked by Salon about Gorka's claims, an NSA spokesperson said they had "no further comment to offer" beyond the previous statement sent out regarding Carlson Tuesday night.

Gorka didn't return Salon's requests for comment on the matter. Steve Bannon couldn't be reached by Salon for comment on these allegations.

In fact, on Wednesday morning's "WarRoom: Pandemic" podcast, Bannon expressed skepticism about Carlson's claims, wondering aloud why Fox News' reporters hadn't pursued a story on the accusations.

Since leaving the Trump administration to become a right-wing radio firebrand, Gorka has made various improbable claims, including that he was infected with the coronavirus before it was prevalent in the United States and once had a near-death experience at a 7-Eleven convenience store because he wasn't wearing a mask.

This wave of accusations that the NSA was spying on prominent conservatives began with Carlson's on-air claims on Monday night.

The prime-time Fox News host told his audience that an NSA whistleblower had reached out "to warn us that the NSA, the National Security Agency, is monitoring our electronic communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt to take this show off the air."

On Tuesday night, Carlson refused to retract his claims even though the NSA, a highly secretive agency that rarely engages with media or the public, released a statement saying that "Tucker Carlson has never been an intelligence target of the Agency and the NSA has never had any plans to try to take his program off the air."

Fox News host Brian Kilmeade mocked after claiming he read Mein Kampf in school

Fox News host Brian Kilmeade claimed that he was required to read Adolph Hitler's book "Mein Kampf" during his high school years.

The questionable admission came Monday morning during a discussion on "Fox & Friends" about U.S. military Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley arguing in front of Congress last week that he is supportive of being well-read on the topic of "critical race theory."

"I thought General Miley totally missed the point last week. He said, 'Oh, I read Mao, I read Stalin' that has nothing to do with it," Kilmeade stated.

"We read 'Mein Kampf' in school; no one thought we were Nazis, that is part of the curriculum, you find out about other things and other insurgencies, we get it, that has nothing to do with critical race theory," the Fox News host added.

" a U.S. school?" White House Playboy reporter Brian Karem responded to Kilmeade's claim.

Another Twitter user wrote, "It's interesting to me that Brian Kilmeade is so upset about CRT being taught in schools — even though it's not — but he doesn't seem to have an issue with Mein Kampf being assigned in high schools. (Which it isn't.)."

"Mein Kampf," an anti-semitic book penned by Adolf Hitler while in prison, was a lengthy diatribe about the Nazi Party, which Kilmeade claims was required reading at Massapequa High School in Long Island, New York, where he attended high school in the 1980s.

Milley faced accusations this past week by Republicans in Congress that he was far too "woke" and embracive of "critical race theory." He pushed back on that GOP lawmaker characterization, calling it "offensive" over merely "studying some theories that are out there."

The high-ranking military official further stated that he reads an assortment of literature from Lenin, Karl Marx, and Mao Zedong, claiming that doing such "doesn't make me a communist." Milley added during the hearing, "So what is wrong with understanding, having some situational understanding about the country for which we are here to defend?"

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