Florida congressman Matt Gaetz's special guest for President Trump's State of the Union address was Chuck Johnson, a banned Twitter troll, accused Holocaust denier and vocal affiliate of the "alt-right" white nationalist movement.
According to Politico
, Gaetz was unaware of Johnson's background when he extended the invitation. "I had no idea who he was," said Gaetz, who reportedly found out about Johnson's background earlier in the week when Capitol Police had flagged the name and contacted Gaetz.
However, despite being informed by his staff and Capitol Police of Johnson's background, Gaetz did not rescind the invitation.
Johnson's background includes denying the Holocaust involved gas chambers
, claiming that the death tolls were exaggerated, running a crowd-funding site that raised tens of thousands of dollars
for legal fees related to the neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer, and referring to Eric Garner, who was unarmed and killed by police officers for selling cigarettes, as a "street thug," to name a few.
Gaetz says he ended up giving the ticket to Johnson after he learned that his original guest, his 70-year-old father Don Gaetz, came down with bronchitis. The congressman told Politco that it was essentially a weird coincidence that Johnson was given his ticket, and he just showed up to his office and they hit it off.
"I then found out he was quite famous for his activity online," said Gaetz to Politico. "I didn’t know much about him. I learned he’s in conflict with technology companies and has said some rather infamous things. Unquestionably I don’t agree with everything Chuck Johnson has said and done. That needs to be said on the record. But he was a perfectly polite guest."
Johnson gives a slightly different story on how he ended up going to the State of the Union, saying he received multiple invitations from several members of Congress, and only accepted Gaetz's invitation because "he's into stuff on the issues that I care about."
None of this should be a surprise, considering Gaetz and Johnson actually do have a lot in common. Just a few days ago Gaetz appeared on InfoWars, Alex Jones' show where he pushes blatantly insane conspiracy theories like how the government controls hurricanes
and that Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring from a pizza place
Gaetz, who is leading the GOP-driven push to discredit the FBI in the midst of their investigation into Russia election meddling, is also the same elected official who once filed a bill based on a conspiracy theory he saw on Reddit
, who allegedly got off easy on a DUI
because of help from his senator dad, is currently arguing on Twitter with Montel Williams
about who is more respected on television, and once questioned whether two black legislators knew how to write or spell
Gaetz is up for re-election in 2018.