Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday denied that he plans to attend a fundraiser this week with a group that promotes white nationalist ideas, despite an invitation for the event circulating online that features the congressman and Nick Fuentes, a far-right operative who leads America First.
But on Tuesday Gosar denied any knowledge of the fundraiser when asked about the invitation featuring a photo of him with Fuentes.
“I have no idea what’s going on. That’s news to me,” he said. “There’s no fundraiser scheduled on Friday.”
The online invitation was shared on Twitter by several accounts, including former representative Denver Riggleman (R-Va.), who said it was from a Telegram account linked to Fuentes.
“A sitting member of Congress fundraising with AFPAC. That’s where we are. And he sits on committees,” he wrote.
Fuentes did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday. The invitation includes contact information for Gosar’s campaign, which did not respond to a request for comment, and says it was “paid for by Nicholas Fuentes and authorized by Gosar for Congress Committee.”
This would be the second event the Arizona Republican has attended this year with Fuentes, who has previously defended segregation as being “better” for both White and Black Americans and has downplayed the horror of the Holocaust.
During a America First PAC event that Gosar attended in February as a keynote speaker, Fuentes called the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by supporters of former president Donald Trump “awesome” and lamented that America is losing its “White demographic core.” The Arizona Republican later said at a Conservative Political Action Conference event that he denounced Fuentes’ “white racism” as “inappropriate.”
Fuentes has been called a white-nationalist organizer by the Southern Poverty Law Center and he is part of the Groypers, which the Anti-Defamation League describes as “a white supremacist group that presents its ideology as more nuanced than other groups in the white supremacist sphere” by “aligning themselves with ‘Christianity’ and ‘traditional’ values.”
His social media accounts have been promoting his recent and upcoming travel around the country as the “White Boy Summer Tour.”
While Republican leadership has condemned remarks made by Gosar and other members, such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who have made or supported racist or antisemitic statements, they have not moved to censure or strip them of committee assignments like Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) did with former representative Steve King (R-Iowa) in 2019 after he questioned whether the term “white supremacist” was offensive.
Democrats voted to strip Greene of her committee assignments earlier this year.
On Tuesday morning, House Republican leaders declined to comment on the possibility Gosar would attend a fundraiser with Fuentes, saying they needed to look into the matter.
Later in the day, McCarthy spoke with Gosar and said afterward that the Arizona Republican told him he didn’t know anything about the fundraiser.
“He says he doesn’t have — that it’s not real. That he doesn’t have anything on his schedule,” McCarthy said in a brief interview.
Some Democrats criticized GOP leaders for not taking action against Gosar.
“Gosar has been outside the boundaries for a long time and this takes it to a level that is wholly unacceptable and should be unacceptable to everybody in Congress,” said Rep. Bradley Schneider (D-Ill.) “McCarthy needs to decide whether this is what he wants his conference to reflect or if he’s willing to kick Gosar out and say we’re going against Holocaust denial and antisemitism.”
He said he was considering whether to offer a resolution censuring Gosar.
Gosar has come under fire in recent weeks for continuing to downplay the severity of the Jan. 6 insurrection on the Capitol. His family has also become more outspoken against him in recent interviews, pressing leadership to remove him from office in fear that his views will incite more violence across the country.
Paul Kane and Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.