Pennsylvania GOP candidate’s campaign contribution highlights association with anti-Semitic platform – The Forward

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.

The founder, Andrew Torba, is known for sharing antisemitic messages online, and Gab is an echo chamber of white nationalism that was used by the man who killed 11 Jews at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue in 2018.

The $500 contribution was made on July 22, when Mastriano was fight the critics — including by 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 did not speak for the candidate or advise 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 aimed at overturning the results of the 2020 presidential election, and has face mounting pressure since winning the May primaries to disassociate himself from the anti-Semitic social media platform he has condemned “anti-Semitism in all its forms” but refrained from denouncing Torba.

Mastriano runs against Pennsylvania Democrats 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 advance on Mastriano, who has aired no TV commercials since winning the GOP nomination. Mastriano is also being snubbed by the Republican Governors Associationwhich helps applicants in Arizona, Michigan and other swing states.

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

The Lincoln Project, a super PAC launched by a group of “never Trump” Republicans in 2019, aired a TV commercial last week highlighting Mastriano’s embrace of anti-Semites and his association with Gab as well as a spike in attacks on 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.”

Robert M. Larson