When Ron Paul arrived on the scene with a shockingly influential presidential bid in 2008, he brought with him a revolution of ideas and a lot of new blood into the Republican Party fold. That ‘new blood’ was expected to libertarianize the Republican Party; but instead, the Trump ascendancy swept away what looked to be a lasting movement.
What’s left are libertarians in the GOP mix who are fish out of water. Some liberty movement politicians are even cozying up with the reviled political establishment, using the same slurs used by those interests against Ron Paul to bolster their own ambitions. No candidate represents this shift in the liberty movement better than Virginia state delegate Nick Freitas, who is attempting to become the Republican Party nominee for US Senate this year. The election takes place next Tuesday, and the nastiness is on full display in what is expected to be a tightly-contested race.
The Freitas campaign has used dishonest tactics to malign his populist pro-Trump upstart challenger Corey Stewart, implying he is a white nationalist and a racist through tenuous connections with Wisconsin Congressional challenger Paul Nehlen and ‘Unite the Right’ organizer Jason Kessler in a recent email. Stewart or Freitas are believed to be the front-runners in the race to take on Democratic Senator Tim Kaine with another challenger also competing for the spot.
“Corey Stewart recorded a video with Paul Nehlen, the candidate who got 18% of the vote against Paul Ryan in the 2016 Wisconsin Primary. In this video, he said that Paul Nehlen was a ‘hero’ of his and that he was ‘inspired’ by him,” the Freitas campaign wrote in an e-mail blast.
The Freitas campaign went on to call Nehlen an “avowed Holocaust denier, anti-semite, and vicious racist” and whined about a Twitter post Nehlen made about British royalty Meghan Markle that he called the “ignorant degradation of another human being.” These talking points sound straight out of a Democratic Party ‘resistance’ manifesto, not something you might hear from a Republican politician in the age of Donald Trump.
In actuality, Stewart has come out publicly against racism on many occasions, denounced the white supremacists of Charlottesville publicly, and only supported Paul Nehlen when he was considered an acceptable upstart candidate receiving support from President Trump, Breitbart News, Sarah Palin, and other mainstream conservative voices. This deceptive line of attack turned to outright bald-faced lies when describing Stewart’s relationship with Jason Kessler.
“Corey Stewart raised Jason’s profile, shared his platform with him, and after the torch rally, refused to denounce his activities. Corey Stewart even held a press conference where everyone was lead to believe there would be a denouncement of the events that preceded… but then failed to denounce Jason Kessler!” the Freitas campaign exclaimed.
But Stewart has denounced Kessler’s white nationalist faction that spurred the chaos in Charlottesville on many different occasions, including once during a Facebook livestream event addressed to his supporters and another time to a liberal CNN reporter during a contentious interview where he called out far-left ANTIFA terrorists and defended Trump’s post-Charlottesville comments.
“You have the president of the United States, who’s saying, ‘No, look, Neo-Nazis and KKK, they have nothing to do with the Republican Party, they’re absolutely wrong and of course we condemn them,’” Stewart said during a CNN interview in August 2017. “You’ve got to condemn both sides. Violence is always wrong.”
Freitas is repeating a slur that originated from the Daily Wire, a media outlet that is run by avowed ‘Never Trump’ media commentator Ben Shapiro. Shapiro, who once led a failed crusade against Trump and Breitbart News in 2016, has since rebranded himself as a quasi-Trump supporter, but that has not stopped him from working to subvert the populist uproar in the GOP while gushing over entrenched politicians like House Speaker Paul Ryan. The hit piece has been rebuked in full by the right-leaning libertarian blog Liberty Hangout with Big League Politics shaming Shapiro’s publication as well.
Freitas may be focusing on the racism canard so that Virginia Republicans are less likely to examine his record on policy. Freitas drew boos from a tea party audience after he suggested that sanctuary cities should be allowed to function without any federal backlash. Freitas told that audience later that he supports building Trump’s wall, but he refused to commit to the idea during an interview with Inside NOVA.
Freitas also attempted to delete his history in the ‘Never Trump’ movement from the public record before running for Senate. He frequently derided the President while he was running for office, calling him a “5 time draft deferring ‘tough guy'” who would “take some candy from a small child . . . or maybe kick a kitten.” He even compared Trump to reviled establishment neocon Lindsey Graham, claiming that Trump ran in the GOP “just to try and make Republicans look bad.” Freitas now offers lies to deny his ‘Never Trump’ past on the campaign trail, and runs a dirty campaign even after pledging never to go negative in the beginning. Although his record of mistruths is apart of the public record, Freitas still feigns a record of integrity to unsuspecting Virginia voters.
“People are fed up by the absolute toxicity in political rhetoric right now, and I’m fed up with it. I’m going to talk about ideas, and those ideas will draw a contrast with Sen. Kaine,” Freitas said.
“The Republican Party is the party of family values, and as a father of three, those are not the values I want my children to learn. It is well past time we defeat the hate mongers and say this is enough,” the Freitas campaign wrote.
While Freitas may pay lip service to family values during media interviews and campaign speeches, his own connections raise serious questions about the authenticity of his rhetoric. The Freitas campaign recently purchased support from the consulting group ran by former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his sister, Maureen to aid in funneling big establishment money into his coffers. McDonnell was convicted by a federal jury of corruption charges back in 2014 and was sentenced to two years in prison before friends in high places in the Supreme Court and Justice Department dismissed all charges against him two years later. He never served a day in jail, and how his special interest connections are being used to push Freitas’ Senate campaign.
In a bit of news that may be especially startling to liberty-minded activists, Freitas has also recycled the scandal-plagued ‘Paul Inc.’ gang that was blamed for crushing grassroots activists and snatching defeat from the arms of victory during Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign.
Former Campaign for Liberty President John Tate’s ‘America’s Liberty PAC’ has been a substantial contributor to Freitas’ campaign, spending $225,000 in money for television advertising in a last minute blitz to send voters away from the populist upstart in Stewart toward the establishment’s pick in Freitas. Campaign finance records show that Tate is the prime benefactor from this PAC, with four of the top five recipients of money raised by the PAC in 2018 being himself, his wife, or his close associates.
Tate was once the President for Campaign for Liberty, but left his position following criminal conspiracy charges. According to a federal press release, Tate was convicted of “conspiracy, causing false records to obstruct a contemplated investigation, causing the submission of false campaign expenditure reports to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and engaging in a scheme to make false statements to the FEC” related to a bribe made to an Iowa state senator that was meant to tip the crucial primary toward Ron Paul in 2012. Paul lost anyway, and his son kept many of the corrupt actors around for his after-thought Presidential campaign in 2016.
The most influential ‘Paul Inc.’ figure who is involved with the Freitas campaign is Mike Rothfeld. During the height of the Ron Paul movement and tea party era, Rothfeld and his underlings trained thousands of activists throughout the country in the art of ‘confrontational politics’ to defeat the political establishment. He became infamous for extracting a whopping $7.7 million from Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign, angering Paul’s GOP denizens who felt that the money could have been better spent elsewhere.
“When you spam people to the sum of 50 or 60 or 70 million pieces of spam a month, as my shop does—those of you who get Rand Paul spa—” Rothfeld said during a political training, as quoted by reporter Dave Weigel of Slate—“uh, email, or Campaign for Liberty or National Association for Gun Rights or National Right to Work or National Pro-Life Alliance, that is all my spa—uh, email!”
With Ron Paul no longer around and liberty no longer in the national conversation, Rothfeld is using his aggressive tactics to rabble-rouse on behalf of the establishment rather than against it. But he is not without significant baggage of his own. In addition to leaving Campaign for Liberty high-and-dry with little to show from the litany of direct mail pieces that were the bane of libertarians for many years, he was charged with assault and battery of a family member and strangulation resulting in wounding or bodily injury just last year according to Virginia arrest records. The hypocrisy of Freitas calling himself the ‘family values’ candidate, and simultaneously working with this man and his associates, should not be lost on Virginia Republican primary voters.
In addition, Nick Freitas’ top campaign aide Mark Kevin Lloyd was derided publicly after social media posts were found containing profane language toward women. While this may very well have been a liberal-concocted controversy by the mainstream media, it is yet another indicator of Freitas’ hypocrisy – as Freitas profiled a top supporter of Stewart’s as a racist because of a Facebook post made by the activist in his aforementioned email blast.
As the liberty movement fades from memory, the upstarts who once posed an existential threat to the political establishment are now nestling up to that same establishment looking for table scraps. This has defined the Nick Freitas campaign from its beginning. Freitas hopes that his establishment money, establishment connections, and smears of racism will defeat Stewart’s authentic populist pro-Trump message and grassroots enthusiasm on Jun. 12 when the voters will ultimately decide the Republican Senate nominee.