Prophets, ‘Pizzagaters’ and an Oathkeeper: A Field Guide to Doug Mastriano World

It’s now September, that time of year when political candidates start changing colors weeks before the autumn leaves. None more so than the Republican candidate for governor of Pennsylvania, State Senator Doug Mastriano, who in his right-wing media successes – the Christian nationalist continues to avoid the mainstream media, with the help of his team morons – tried to poop the idea that he’s a dangerous extremist. This despite the fact that new evidence of his extremism – his fetish for the Confederacy, for example – keeps emerging.

Rather than trusting Mastriano’s words, perhaps it’s time to judge the retired army colonel by the company he keeps. Let’s take stock of the rogue gallery of self-proclaimed prophets, election deniers, and militia types that Mastriano chooses to associate with, and wonder if the founding state of American democracy has ever seen a campaign like this. .

Here is (in alphabetical order) a brief field guide to some of the key players in Mastriano World:

Abby Abilness: State director of the Pennsylvania Congressional Prayer Caucus and director of the Global Apostolic Prayer Network, Abildness is a key state leader in the Christian nationalist movement that loosely affiliates under the banner of the New Apostolic Reform (NAR), a group who seeks extremist Christian domination over the government. She is also a lobbyist in Harrisburg, where she has forged ties with leading 2020 election deniers. as State Senator Cris Dush and Mastriano. Mastriano too was filmed hugging Abildness at a July event built around a revisionist Christian story of William Penn and the founding of Pennsylvania.

Grant Clarkson: A former congressional intern and GOP legislative aide to Harrisburg, Clarkson was identified by NBC News’ Ryan J. Reilly as part of the phalanx of campaign bodyguards who kept reporters out of Mastriano’s pre-primary rally. in Bucks County in May. NBC also reported that Clarkson was photographed on the grounds of the United States Capitol during the height of the Jan. 6, 2021, uprising, when “he appeared to be smiling and laughing as rioters destroyed media equipment on the grounds. of the Capitol”.

Jenna Ellis: The senior legal adviser to the Mastriano and fierce campaign defender of the candidate on Twitter, Ellis was a key lawyer for Donald Trump as he sought to overturn President Biden’s 2020 election victory. A former traffic court lawyer and the author of a self-published book that claims that the US Constitution can only be interpreted through the Bible, Ellis penned two memos insisting that Vice President Mike Pence had the power to undo Biden’s election victory. Her efforts in 2020 are being scrutinized in several ongoing investigations, including a Georgia election tampering probe where she was ordered to testify.

James Emery: Another cog in Mastriano’s team of bodyguards from at the May Bucks County rally, Emery is a member of the Elizabethtown area school board in central Pennsylvania and a licensed minister affiliated with that community’s LifeGate Church, a congregation that has advocated for Christians to play a greater role in government. Investigative reporter Carter Walker of Lancaster’s LNP news agency identified Congregation LifeGate as the link between several members of Mastriano’s security team.

Sean Feucht: The musical entertainment at Mastriano’s primary victory party in Chambersburg in May, the pro-Trump and anti-vaccine Christian rock star became the musical voice of the Ultra-MAGA movement in 2022. A growing political force who prayed to DC with the representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert upon learning that the Supreme Court would overturn Roe vs. WadeFeucht has become a multi-millionaire in the post-COVID era, according to Rolling Stone, which reported on his glitzy mansions in Southern California and Montana.

Michael Flynn: Trump’s disgraced former national security adviser – who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI but was pardoned by the 45th president shortly before the Jan. 6 insurrection – hails from the same world of military intelligence as Mastriano and was a key supporter of his campaign. Flynn – who has been linked to the QAnon conspiracy theory movement — is due to return to Pennsylvania next month for his controversial “ReAwaken America” ​​tour. Like Mastriano himself, Flynn refused to answer questions from investigators about his involvement in the course until January 6.

Francine and Allen Fosdick: Self-proclaimed prophets and promoters of the QAnon conspiracy theory, the Fosdicks were the organizers of the two-day far-right Christian event titled “Patriots Rise for God and Country” at Gettysburg in April. Mastriano, whose state’s Senate district includes the historic Civil War battleground, was a speaker at the event, where the couple presented him with a “Sword of David.” This conference also featured 9/11 conspiracy theories and a video claiming the world is experiencing a “great awakening” that will expose “ritual child sacrifice” and a “global satanic blood cult.”

» READ MORE: Doug Mastriano: Pennsylvania Confederate in the attic | Will Bunch Newsletter

Julie Green: Another self-proclaimed prophet, Green — the head of Julie Green Ministries — claimed she had “a special relationship” with Mastriano and predicted that a GOP victory in November will rid Pennsylvania of corruption. Mastriano invited Green to deliver the opening prayer at a campaign event and shared his prophecies on social media. According to a report by left-leaning watchdog group Media Matters, Green said “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ‘likes to drink the blood of little children’; the government makes “human sacrifices” to stay in power; and President Joe Biden is secretly dead and an “actor” is playing him. »

Vishal Jetnarayan: Mastriano’s campaign manager — totally unknown to veterans of Pennsylvania Republican politics — describes himself as (stop me if you’ve heard this one before) a prophet, active in two Chambersburg churches. He claims he speaks directly with God and, according to a new report by WHYY’s Katie Meyer which was published on Thursday, has self-published books advising others on how they can do the same. She reported that Jetnarayan often hosts Mastriano events and is a reminder of Green, her fellow prophet.

Sam Lazar: A 37-year-old right-wing political agitator from Lancaster County, Lazar appeared at Mastriano rallies and was pictured with the candidate even as Justice Department investigators and online sleuths focused on Lazar’s involvement in the January 6 uprising. (He had posted his involvement on Facebook, writing, “There is a time for war. Our constitution allows us to abolish our [government] and install a new one in [its] place” and bragging about confronting police while wearing face paint.) He was arrested and jailed in 2021 for assaulting officers.

Mike Lindel: The notorious ‘My Pillow’ mogul who reinvented himself during the latter part of the Trump era as the former president’s obsessive Big Lie on rigged voting machines and 2020 voter fraud, Lindell was also a major boost to the Mastriano campaign, providing the Pennsylvanian with an early endorsement.

Scott Nagle: Nagle was identified by LNP’s Walker, through interviews and a photo posted on Facebook, as a member of Mastriano’s bodyguard team. He was also, according to Walker’s report, listed as the Lancaster County leader of the radical Oath Keepers group until January this year. Leaders of the Oath Keepers, including its founder Stewart Rhodes, are currently facing federal sedition charges for their role on January 6. Nagle was reportedly photographed with Mastriano on several occasions.

Jeremy Oliver: WHYY’s Meyer reports that the Mastriano campaign paid Oliver’s California-based Onslaught Media Group $82,500, and that Oliver – a former far-right producer One America News Network – appeared at Mastriano campaign events as a videographer. Meyer writes that Oliver bolstered the QAnon conspiracy theory on the Gab site — criticized for links to anti-Semitism — and also frequently posts on Trump’s Truth Social site theories such as the Chinese hacking of US voting machines.

Ivan Raiklin: A veteran Army intelligence officer, former Green Beret and Virginia lawyer, Raiklin emerged in late 2020 as the leader of Trump’s election denial effort – penning the ‘Operation Pence Card’ memo urging vice -then-president to overturn Biden’s victory – and continues to push for Biden’s voters to be retroactively decertified. He showed up at Mastriano’s victory party in Chambersburg in May, where he filmed a congratulatory video with the candidate and dropped “20 electoral votes”, an apparent reference to the decertification of the 2020 Pennsylvania result .

Toni Shuppe: The co-founder and CEO of Audit The Vote PA — a group dedicated to overturning the 2020 election results based on Trump’s Big Lie — Shuppe became a key supporter of Mastriano, filming a early approval video and appear with the candidate at rallies. There was speculation that Mastriano was considering appointing Shuppe as Secretary of State to oversee elections in Pennsylvania. According to a report this week by Media Matters, Shuppe claimed the Pizzagate hoax “is 100% real” and hailed QAnon as “a very valuable resource.”

Andre Torba: Mastriano’s connection to the founder of right-wing social media platform Gab erupted into controversy this summer when it was revealed his campaign paid the site $5,000 to boost Mastriano’s profile there. . The contestant also sat down for an interview with Torba and said, “Thank God for what you’ve done.” The story of Torba’s anti-Jewish remarks about Gab became public knowledge in 2018 after the gunman who murdered 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue posted his manifesto there.

Steve Turley: A Delaware resident, Turley produced and screened the recent documentary, “Return of the American Patriot: The Rise of Pennsylvania,” which shed a positive light on Mastriano’s campaign as a revolution building on the Trumpist political movement. A Christian nationalist podcaster, Turley denounces the destruction of multiculturalism and insists that the future of America is “evangelical, Mormon and Amish”.

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Denise W. Whigham