Ohio treasurer and Senate candidate takes on Anti-Defamation League over far-right ‘witch hunt’

Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel speaks at the Ohio Republican Party election night celebration in Columbus, Ohio, in November 2014. (Photo: Tony Dejak/AP)

Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, a candidate in next year’s Republican Senate primary, sided Thursday with two prominent right-wing nationalist commentators over the Anti-Defamation League, which put them on a watch list of what it called “alt-lite” figures.

Mandel was responding to an online article on the ADL website listing Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec among other alt-right and “alt-lite” figures. It defined “alt-lite” as “a loosely connected movement of right-wing activists who reject the overtly white supremacist ideology of the alt right” but embrace misogyny and xenophobia and abhor “political correctness” and the left.

Cernovich likened the listing to “terrorism.” In a tweet, Mandel backed Cernovich and Posobiec, calling the ADL, which was formed in 1913 to fight anti-Semitism and has broadened its mandate to “ensure justice and fair treatment for all,” a “partisan witchhunt [sic] group.”

In an email to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Erica Nurnberg, a Mandel campaign spokeswoman, said: “As the grandson of Holocaust survivors and as a Marine who defended our freedom, Treasurer Mandel believes the ADL is dead wrong for creating hit lists on American citizens. Of all organizations, the ADL should know that making target lists of people based on their political beliefs is a dangerous practice and slippery slope.”

The ADL article listed, with brief profiles, people it identified with the movements, but there is nothing to support the characterization of it as a “hit” or “target” list.

The comment from Nurnberg echoes a video Posobiec posted to Twitter on Thursday. In it, Posobiec is outside the gates of the Auschwitz concentration camp and states, “Wise to remember what happened the last time people made lists of undesirables.”

Cernovich has risen to prominence among right-wing media figures in the past year, earning a New Yorker feature, an appearance on 60 Minutes and an endorsement from Donald Trump Jr. for the Pulitzer. He was one of the main propagators of the “Pizzagate” conspiracy that led to gunshots in a Washington, D.C., restaurant and has also likened diversity to “white genocide,” stated that date rape isn’t a real thing and said the Black Lives Matter movement “regularly slaughters the innocent.” Posobiec has been a prolific spreader of conspiracies surrounding the 2016 shooting of Seth Rich, a Democratic National Committee staffer whose death has been a topic of interest to right-wing media figures despite pleas from his family to stop politicizing his killing.

The Mandel campaign did not respond to a request for comment on whether the candidate condoned Cernovich’s comments. Mandel will compete against Cleveland banker Mike Gibbons in the GOP primary for the right to take on Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown.

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