Pennsylvania Republican Doug Mastriano accepted $500 from Andrew Torba, the CEO of Gab.
Torba is a self-styled Christian nationalist whose Gab website is favored by far-right extremists.
Mastriano paid Gab $5,000 to promote his campaign but later said Torba "doesn't speak for me."
In July, following fierce criticism from Democrats and Jewish leaders, Republicans among them, Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano issued a statement declaring that Andrew Torba, the self-styled Christian nationalist founder of the far-right social network Gab, "doesn't speak for me or my campaign."
Days earlier, however, Mastriano — who won the GOP nomination for governor with the backing of former President Donald Trump — accepted a $500 contribution from Torba, who has frequently posted antisemitic rants and declared Jews unwelcome in his far-right movement, per a campaign finance report released Tuesday and first reported by Politico's Holly Otterbein.
"Doug Mastriano should return this money and immediately condemn Andrew Torba's vile antisemitism," Manuel Bonder, a spokesperson for Mastriano's Democratic opponent, Josh Shapiro, said in a statement to Insider. "Unfortunately we know he won't because he has shown Pennsylvanians time and time again that this is exactly who he is."
Mastriano did not respond to a request for comment. Since launching his campaign for governor, Mastriano — a PA state senator and 2020 election denier who was seen at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 — has refused to address questions from the mainstream press, granting interviews only to avowedly conservative media outlets.
According to the campaign filing, Torba, a Pennsylvania resident, donated the money on July 22, a day after the Republican Jewish Coalition joined a legion of critics in blasting Mastriano's campaign for its association with Gab. Earlier in the month, it was revealed that Mastriano had paid Gab $5,000 to promote his campaign, with new users of the site automatically following his account, HuffPost reported. Gab was also the site used by the mass shooter who targeted the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018, shooting to death 11 people after using the social media network to accuse a Jewish refugee resettlement organization of bringing "invaders in that kill our people."
Mastriano, who was the Trump campaign's "point person" for a scheme to appoint fake electors and overturn the 2020 election, according to emails obtained by The New York Times, also sat for a friendly interview with Torba, despite the latter having "engaged in multiple antisemitic tirades" online, in the words of the Anti-Defamation League.
The Gab founder has shared a cartoon blaming Jews for killing Jesus (a "[h]elpful infographic," he wrote on Twitter) and stated his desire is to overcome "Judeo-Bolshevik" society, using a term preferred by neo-Nazis who paint communism as a Jewish plot. He has also said even conservative Jews are unwelcome, flatly stating, according to Media Matters: "We don't want people who are Jewish."
On July 28, six days after accepting Torba's money, Mastriano deleted his Gab account and issued a statement distancing himself from the site and its founder — while blaming Democrats and the media for "smears."
"Andrew Torba doesn't speak for me or my campaign. I reject antisemitism in any form," Mastriano wrote. Extremist speech, he added, is an "unfortunate but inevitable cost of living in a free society."
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