Mastriano’s contribution to the campaign highlights his association with an anti-Semitic platform

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State Senator Doug Mastriano, the Republican candidate for governor of Pennsylvania, accepted a $500 campaign contribution from the founder of the anti-Semitic social media platform Gab days before Mastriano denied any association with him , according new financial information released earlier this week.

Founder Andrew Torba is known for sharing anti-Semitic messages online, and Gab is an echo chamber for white nationalism that was used by the man who killed 11 Jews at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018.

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The $500 contribution was made on July 22, as Mastriano battled criticism — including from the Republican Jewish Coalition — for paying Gab a $5,000 consulting fee. On July 28, Torba asked his supporters to contribute to Mastriano’s campaign, but also said he was not speaking on behalf of the candidate or advising the campaign.

“The campaign paid Gab as a company for advertising during the primary,” he said. “That’s the extent of the relationship.”

Mastriano is a leader of the ‘Stop the Steal’ movement to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, and has faced mounting pressure since winning the May primaries to disassociate himself from the anti-Semitic media platform social. He condemned “anti-Semitism in all its forms”. but refrained from denouncing Torba.

Mastriano is running against Democratic Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. The race is among the most watched this fall in the country, as a victory for Mastriano would put a 2020 election denier in charge of the electoral system of a key battleground state.

Former President Donald Trump praised Mastriano during a conference call with supporters Tuesday night, open to reporters. “I hear you’re doing fantastically in the polls and doing very well,” he said. “You are the talk of the town, you are the talk of the country.”

A recent poll showed Shapiro with a double-digit lead over Mastriano, who has aired no TV commercials since winning the GOP nomination. Mastriano is also snubbed by the Republican Governors Association, which helps candidates in Arizona, Michigan and other swing states.

Several prominent Jewish Republicans have already broken ranks in support of Shapiro due to Mastriano’s relationship with Gab. Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition and a Philadelphia native, said Jewish voters would turn up to vote for the Democrat in November after Mastriano attacked Shapiro for attending Jewish day schools and sending his children there.

The Lincoln Project, a super PAC launched by a group of “never Trump” Republicans in 2019, aired a TV ad last week highlighting Mastriano’s anti-Semite affiliation and association with Gab as well as a spike in attacks on the Jews. In a fundraising email to his supporters on Tuesday, Mastriano called the ads “vicious” and “dishonest,” saying “not a word of these ads stands up to scrutiny.” PJC

Robert M. Larson