Digging Deeper: Examining the Constitution Party’s Racist Baggage

by Cody Quirk

Two years ago, political activist and former Youth Chairman of the Constitution Party, Joshua Fauver, released an article on Independent Political Report detailing some interesting, controversial links that the National Constitution Party (formerly called the U.S. Taxpayers Party before 1999) had with certain groups and individuals whom were outspoken about or involved with white supremacy and/or antisemitism. One of the mentioned groups was the Council of Conservative Citizens (the successor group of the old White Citizens Councils that existed during the Civil Rights era). Mr. Fauver ended up being criticized for his article because the links and evidence included seemed insubstantial and petty to some, since a portion of the evidence were mere screenshots of several racist Facebook posts made by members in one CP discussion forum that have either left or had been kicked out of it afterward and their posts deleted.

Yet, due to some of the legitimate links and evidence displayed in his article, and in response to political rumors and gossip; this article will re-examine what authentic evidence and links there are with the Constitution Party and any racially prejudiced groups out there, along with including additional evidence of such.

On the surface however, with what racial diversity there is in the CP; it not only appears inclusive and even tolerant, despite the notorious links with sectarianism and religious prejudice; but even some of the most religiously bigoted members of the CP, including former Wisconsin State Chairman Riley Hood (despite calling for Islam to be ‘outlawed’ and exterminated) -have fervently denounced racism, especially antisemitism, and speak of the nation of Israel in a positive light. The Idaho affiliate of the CP even refused to allow Edgar Steele, a white supremacist lawyer, to run for office under the CP banner in 2010, along with rejecting his attempt to get involved with their party.

However, when one closely examines that which is considered the ‘old guard’ leadership, or the founding fathers of the CP (Howard Phillips,William K. Shearer, etc.) -several notable and quite controversial links do pop up, and it’s not just about how in 1999 the U.S. Taxpayers Party renamed themselves after a segregationist minor party that existed briefly during in the 1950’s.

Howard Phillips
Howard Phillips

First, it was documented that Howard Phillip’s lobbyist group, The Conservative Caucus, included one Richard Shoff as an influential member and financial supporter of the TCC. However, Richard was also a former Grand Kilgrapp of the Indiana Ku Klux Klan and additionally a member of the Coalition for Freedom- which is a defunct political group that was ran by U.S. Senator Jesse Helms at the time. It also received funding from the Pioneer Fund (a racial eugenicist organization) in addition. The Conservative Caucus was also formerly involved with the United States Council for World Freedom (the U.S. Chapter of the World Anti-Communist League, presently called the ‘World League for Freedom and Democracy‘), which used to be rife with neo-Nazi, neo-fascist, and antisemitic individuals/elements during the early part of the 1980’s. That organization also included individuals linked to various political assassinations, death squads, and war crimes -until this organization was forced to purge most of these elements due to pressure from the Anti-Defamation League.

Indeed, while such links with the foundations of the Constitution Party are not direct nor closely tied with the party itself -there are still other links, including ones in the field of journalism, which the CP and its state affiliates occasionally quote, and even feature full-length articles-of which get portrayed likewise in a positive light with the American Free Press; a nationalistic, anti-Zionist newspaper founded by Willis Carto, whom is a well known, influential white supremacist that formerly headed the antisemitic and now defunct Liberty Lobby and was involved in several other related organizations, as well as being on friendly terms with Howard Phillips.

In addition, the AFP formerly ran editorials by Joseph Sobran, a columnist and writer that worked for the National Review magazine until he was fired in 1993 because of various articles of his that were perceived as antisemitic and anti-Zionist. Mr. Sobran was also involved with historian David Irving and the Institute for Historical Review; another organization founded also by Carto that is known for promoting views and materials that deny the established facts and evidence of the Jewish Holocaust.

Joseph Sobran
Joseph Sobran

“The prevalent Jewish myth today is not the founding myth of Abraham or Moses on Sinai, but the story of Jewish persecution. In our time the Jews are defined less by ancestry than by “anti-Semitism,” which is cited for many purposes, including the legitimation of the state of Israel. Most Zionists no longer claim that God gave the Holy Land to the Jews; instead they contend that the Jewish state is necessary as a haven for world Jewry…”
-Joseph Sobran, The Church and Jewish Ideology

Until his death from diabetes in 2010, he continued to write various articles and gave speeches on Jews, Jewish influence, and other topics, along with having spoken at many conferences organized by IHR and the white nationalist group- American Renaissance. However what makes Mr. Sobran significant in this article is not only his support of Howard Phillips and his political party, but the fact that he was both a delegate to their 1999 national convention in St. Louis, Missouri and nearly ended up as Phillip’s running mate in the 2000 presidential elections. However, he had to withdraw at the last minute due to scheduling conflicts with his journalistic commitments. Nevertheless, Mr. Sobran and his articles have been praised and featured by the CP and even on the blogs/websites of particular members and officers of the party too.

“…Why on earth is it “anti-Jewish” to conclude from the evidence that the standard numbers of Jews murdered are inaccurate, or that the Hitler regime, bad as it was in many ways, was not, in fact, intent on racial extermination? Surely these are controversial conclusions; but if so, let the controversy rage. There is no danger in permitting it to proceed. It might be different if denying the Holocaust could somehow affect the course of events, as the denial of Stalin’s crimes by the New York Times in the 1930s helped him to continue committing them. Why is the Institute for Historical Review notorious, while the Times, despite its active support of Stalin at the height of his power, remains a pillar of respectability? The Holocaust has never been a consuming interest of mine. But as I read the Journal of Historical Review over the years, I found in it the same calm virtue of critical rationality I’d found in Mark himself. And it was applied to many other subjects besides the question of whether Hitler had tried to exterminate the Jews…”
-Joseph Sobran, For fear of the Jews

Jack Gray
Jack Gray

A highly inconspicuous, yet not-so-invisible area of white supremacist/nationalist activity within the CP’s ranks have been with those various CP candidates and their campaigns for office in the past. One particular individual is former Utah Constitution Party member Jack Gray, who also was a member of David Duke’s European American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO), the American National Socialist Workers Party, and the now defunct World Church of the Creator. Mr. Gray ran as a CP candidate (scroll down) for the Salt Lake City Council back in 2007, and then later in 2011 for the same race as a Democrat.

Another example isn’t a candidate, but that candidate’s own campaign manager; such was the case of 2000 CP congressional candidate Brian D. Saunders of Maryland and his campaign manager (scroll down) the notorious neo-nazi Bill White; Mr. White has quite a rap sheet on his ‘activism’ over the years, including his reaction and behavior concerning the Columbine High School massacre and being arrested and convicted various times between 2008 and 2014 over intimidation, making multiple threats against individuals (including several jurors), and attempted extortion.

Some minor, less significant examples include a report (page 12) from the Montana Human Rights Network about various state officers and individuals of the Constitution Party of Montana (now defunct), including an outspoken CPOM member and fervent antisemite, Steve Groff, whom was also a friend of Edgar Steele. Another notable mention is former 2005 American Independent Party (when it was still the California affiliate of the CP) congressional candidate and Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist, and the controversial claim by a former campaign staffer that Gilchrist had knowingly hired neo-Nazis to work in his campaign. There was also Florida CP Chairman Mark Pilling’s 2012 claim of false flag attempted assassination/race war being instigated by President Barack Obama. In addition, there were allegations of antisemitism and white supremacist collusion made against former CP National Political Communications Director Mary Starrett when she successfully ran for the Yamhill County Board of Commissioners in 2014. Of a more recent note is controversial radio host Sam Bushman’s endorsement of 2016 CP presidential candidate Darrell Castle, which Mr. Castle highlighted on his campaign website.

Michael Peroutka
Michael Peroutka

However, more significant examples include former CP Presidential candidate Michael A. Peroutka‘s 2004 interview on the white supremacist radio show The Political Cesspool, which is hoisted by James Edwards and has featured various other white supremacists/nationalists at times; examples being Jared Taylor and David Duke. Mr. Peroutka also became involved and later elected to the Board of Directors of the League of the South, which previously endorsed his presidential candidacy, and assisted with his successful 2014 run for Anne Arundel County Council. The L.S. is a southern secessionist group that has white supremacist/nationalist members in their ranks, as well as a race-oriented undercurrent within the organization. Peroutka did supposedly resign from the L.S. later after their racist ties became more public and criticized by the media, however. Though his previous affiliation with the L.S. still remains open to question. In addition, there have been other CP candidates that have cooperated (scroll down), colluded, or portrayed the L.S. in a positive light in the past public speech, including former CP candidates Reverend John Thomas Cripps and Patrick Tyndall.

Jim Condit Jr.
Jim Condit Jr.

An even more significant example then Michael Peroutka is that of frequent Ohio CP congressional candidate, political activist, and long term party member (scroll down), which is Jim Condit Jr. Mr. Condit is quite outspoken on claims of Israeli responsibility for the 9/11 attacks, collusion between the Nazis and Zionist Jews during World War 2, the ‘Jewish takeover‘ of the Vatican, or basically blaming the Jews for all of the world’s problems in various Youtube videos and online rants.

“…Both McCarthy and JFK should have come out with the whole truth in public if they wanted to survive. HITLER was erected by the Rothschilds, with his indiscriminate cruelty, for the VERY PURPOSE of discrediting anyone in the future who fingered the Jewish Criminal Syndicate as the source of the problem. Hitler may have been totally sincere in his loathing of the criminal syndicate of the Jews — but he was used for this very purpose…”
Jim Condit Jr.

While Condit did attempt to run for the 8th Congressional District again as a Green Party candidate this year; he ended up being removed from the ballot on a technicality. It is unknown if he still is a current member of the CP.

Mark Dankof and David Duke
2000 CP senatorial candidate Mark Dankof (left) with David Duke

Perhaps the most notorious example of a outspoken antisemite/white nationalist that was a CP candidate and an official member of the party until just a few years ago -is Reverend Mark E. Dankof. Rev. Dankof is a Lutheran pastor and a podcaster who is even more outspoken then Jim Condit Jr. is about Jews and matters pertaining to the white race. While Mark merely ran as the CP’s candidate in the 2000 U.S. Senate race in Delaware and is now a critic of the CP; he was formerly close to Howard Phillips many years ago and even interviewed him back in 1998, however. The fallout with Mr. Phillips largely began with a 2012 article about Ron Paul’s portrayal on Iranian’s state-run channel- PressTV. In the article, Howard Phillips downplayed and distanced himself from Mark and his previous candidacy for the U.S. Senate. Yet Rev. Dankof afterward wrote a fervent rebuttal to Mr. Phillips’s remarks about him, in which he stated:

“…My response is simply as follows. Howard Phillips is a liar. He has violated the 8th Commandment. He owes me a public apology.
“For the record, 1) Phillips called me personally at my apartment in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in January of 2000 to ask me to run for the U. S. Senate seat in Delaware in the fall of that year. When I decided to run, against my better judgment, Phillips met me at his Washington, D. C. office on a number of occasions to plan out strategy for the operation. This included a move to Claymont, Delaware [across the border from Philadelphia, PA] and a change in drivers license to legally permit me to make the race. 2) There was, in fact,a public caucus of existing Constitution Party activists in Dover, Delaware (an event mentioned in their media in one location at the time), which formally recognized me as the standard-bearer that year. Howard Phillips was in physical attendance at the public caucus, and spoke on my behalf. The papers which were subsequently filed on behalf of my candidacy after the public caucus were filed either by Phillips himself, his staff member Alison Potter at Constitution Party of Virginia headquarters, or the State Chairman of the Constitution Party of Delaware at their behest. I did not file them. 3) Howard Phillips asked Pat Buchanan to formally endorse two Constitution Party candidates for the U. S. Senate that year, in states where the Reform Party had no one on the ballot. One was in Michigan. Mark Dankof in Delaware was the other. 4) At the National Convention of the Constitution Party in Baltimore in 2000, nationally televised by C-SPAN and chronicled in their archives for DVD sale, Mark Dankof’s 30 minute address to all of the National Convention Delegates from the podium was featured along with speeches by Larry Klayman of Judicial Watch, Christopher Ruddy of NewsMax, and Mr. Phillips himself…”

He further emphasized in his rebuttal

“Saved e-mails, official letters under Phillips’s signature sent to me, as well as what is in the public record from 2000, will also corroborate who is telling the truth, if the issue is pressed.”

Before his falling out with Mr. Phillips, however, he was involved with the CP in the background for many years after his senatorial campaign and wrote several positive editorials of Michael Peroutka, as well as did an interview with, and endorsed his 2004 presidential candidacy, along with being invited (scroll down) by Mr. Peroutka to speak at the Constitution Party of Maryland’s state convention in 2004 too. Former CP member/presidential candidate Pastor Chuck Baldwin had once named Mark Dankof as part of his ‘faithful conservative’ list in a 2005 article (when Chuck was still a member of the party then), and both former CP National Political Communications Director Mary Starrett, and former National Chairman Jim Clymer were interviewed on Mark’s podcast show back in 2007.

This above is evidence that has been extensively uncovered online of the Constitution Party’s links and collusion with the antisemitic and white nationalist communities -candidate/electoral-wise that is; though there may be additional info out there which has not been documented online or even public record, perhaps. This remains to be seen.

When it comes to any racist ties/collusion with state, national, even executive officers of the Constitution Party on the other hand, aside from what has already been addressed with Howard Phillips, Michael Peroutka, Jim Clymer, and Mary Starrett, however; we have the case of former CP Parliamentarian and national committee member Dr. Curtis Caine and his past support of South African apartheid while he was serving as the Director for the Christian Life Commission during the 1980’s (the CLC was the predecessor of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention).

“Apartheid had ceased to exist in South Africa and was beneficial when it did, because it meant separate development…”
Dr. Curtis Caine

Nevertheless, the most conspicuous, well-known figure of the Constitution Party that possesses the most extensive history and detailed baggage with the white nationalist/antisemitic community is none other then former CP Executive Committee memberPeter B. Gemma. Of which the remainder of this article will examine.

Peter Gemma
Peter Gemma

Previously, Mr. Fauver’s article did already address the basics of Mr. Gemma’s past association with the Council of Conservative Citizens and other groups that were mentioned in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s 2013 article on Mr. Gemma. One in-particular comment in the discussion thread of Joshua’s article however, which was made by former Independent Political Report owner Trent Hill on Mr. Gemma’s behalf, did partially debunk and dismiss some of the claims and allegations made against Mr. Gemma. While Trent’s full comment to Mr. Fauver is too lengthy to fit in this article, quoted excerpts of it will be featured, with a response to each that will also include the additional information about Mr. Gemma’s past involvement with such groups and events…

Trent Hill: “On Gemma’s association with David Irving–he wrote a review on his book about Joseph Goebbels. This was before he was known to be a holocaust denier…”

Peter Gemma at a 2000 AFBNP meeting
Peter Gemma speaking at a late March 2000 gathering of the ‘American Friends of the British National Party‘

Peter Gemma did review several of David Irving’s books -of which a few were published after David Irving came out of the closet on his views of the Holocaust and especially on race. While understandably, Mr. Gemma reviews and critiques various books written by individuals that are both respected and reviled by mainstream society; nevertheless, his friendly association with David Irving is quite suspect and documented; Mr. Gemma even organized a private dinner meeting in 2005 on behalf for Mr. Irving, among other conferences and events that Gemma has organized for the well-known Holocaust-denier and other leading alt-right individuals.

Trent Hill: “…On his being an employee of the Council of Conservative Citizens. This is simply not true–they once sent out a press release in which Peter Gemma was noted as the organizer of a memorial service for Sam Francis and leftwing blogs misinterpreted this. He has never been an employee of the CCC. Sam Francis was the editor of the CCC’s newspaper for many years and did ask Mr. Gemma to pen a single article for it, which he did. That was in poor judgement…”

This is not entirely correct; Peter Gemma was an active participant (scroll down to ‘May-June 2003’) at many CCC meetings and events, and also served on (scroll down) the editorial advisory board of the CCC’s newspaper, the Citizens Informer.

“On the affiliation with David Duke. There isn’t one. During Pat Buchanan’s 2000 Presidential campaign, Peter Gemma showed up at an event they were told about in order to gather petitions. He and his team spotted Duke only after being handed the microphone, so they mentioned they had petitions and then bolted.”

It is true that Mr. Gemma did not work closely with David Duke, nor was involved in any of his organizations; however, with what documented evidence there is- the matter of whether Peter Gemma actually bolted from any meetings or gatherings that the former Imperial Wizard spoke at or showed up is quite open (scroll down to the end) to debate.

Trent Hill: “On his work with the National Policy Institute–Peter Gemma worked here for six to eight weeks after its founding. He believed it would focus on rightwing issues and instead saw it heading in a more extreme direction, so he abandoned ship…”

Actually this might be debatable as well, since the founder of the NPI- William Regnery II -also serves as a publisher for The Occidental Quarterly, which is a journal devoted to the ethnic, racial, and cultural heritage that forms the foundation of Western Civilization… and hence leaves the supposed ‘moderate‘ beginnings of this organization open to question. Interesting enough, Mr. Gemma also served as a frequent contributor for the same publication. Additionally, Mr. Gemma publishes articles on The Unz Review -a news site founded by businessman and former California Gubernatorial candidate Ron Unz. The Unz Review features a Race/Ethnicity section with numerous articles highly critical of Jews and minorities within. There is also a particular Unz Review article written by Mr. Gemma that discusses the political influence of Sheldon Adelson, as he is addressed as a “Zionist billionaire casino mogul” in the piece itself.

Trent Hill: “…Gemma has never given a speech to the Institute for Historical Review (and I’ve searched their archives thoroughly to make sure that’s true, as well as contacted their “media director) and is not a member of a ResistNet TeaParty, though he says its entirely possible he’s on their mailing list. He has written for both The Social Contract and VDARE. The Social Contract seems to be about immigration issues and is not tinged with racism…”

Completely false, from the evidence (page 6) that has been gathered on Mr. Gemma’s involvement, including his attendance at a February 19th, 2004 IHR meeting where he introduced IHR Director and long-term member, Mark Weber to the audience. There are also multiple sources that discuss his membership with the ResistNet (Patriot Action Network). On the matter of TSCP‘s ‘non-racial’ credentials; that itself is also, open to question.

In addition Mr. Gemma attended (scroll down) and spoke (scroll down) about the importance of getting Patrick Buchanan on all 50 state ballots for the election that year -at a March 30th, 2000 event organized by the American Friends of the British National Party; a now defunct U.S. fundraising organization for the neo-fascist BNP, that counted David Duke and National Democratic Party of Germany member Roy Armstrong as supporters. Mr. Gemma’s participation in the event is displayed in the last picture above.

Lastly on Peter Gemma, while his own website appears to be free of any racially tinged articles, yet when one types in ‘Israel’ in the search bar of the website -several articles critical of both Jewish billionaire Sheldon Adelson, American aid to Israel, and even a 2012 obituary of Joseph Sobran pop up. The late Mr. Sobran is especially a figure that Mr. Gemma thinks highly of, even adding this comment to another brief obituary of the former controversial columnist, in which he states:

“If Joe hadn’t been a man of conviction and courage, writing about what he believed and why, he wouldn’t have small dogs nipping at his legacy. He’ll be well remembered for such great lines as “The U.S. Constitution poses no serious threat to our form of government.”
Talking about taboo subjects with clear and compelling arguments will also be part of Joe’s reputation. As a writer and thinker, that’s not a bad way to be remembered.”

Therefore, regarding the extensive documentation and evidence of Peter Gemma’s past history/affiliations, maybe this excerpt from the book ‘Into a World of Hate: A Journey Among the Extreme Right’ best sums up Mr. Gemma’s character and behavior among the racially-oriented extremist flock:

“…I think back on Peter Gemma. Short, respectable, keen to keep his name out of the limelight. As well he might. He was a longstanding Republican campaigner and is now a lobbyist for nonprofits. I wonder if there are many more like him out there. Unlike my anonymous friend, Gemma was actually quite careful with what he said…”

In closing, the extensive and numerous url links featured in this article have been found to be reliable, or at least referenced with reliable sources; some even include additional sub-references that verify their authenticity. Despite the obvious political bias on some of the url links and references, including the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Reports that are featured, and despite the SPLC’s disdain for all things right-wing; much of their featured evidence and documentation on the various white supremacist and antisemitic groups/individuals over the years is nothing to laugh or scoff at, including their legitimate criticism of Mr. Gemma and other individuals formerly, or still involved with the Constitution Party, along with the CP itself.

However, in this article’s conclusion, and despite the inconspicuous but extensive evidence and documentation of past collusion, cooperation, and involvement of various racists and racial-oriented extremism with the Constitution Party and vice versa -nevertheless it is without question that the CP in its beliefs and national platform is not a white supremacist or an antisemitic political party overall, nor is it racially-oriented either. And while the characters of Peter Gemma and a few past CP leaders and active members might be debatable; it is without question that the current national and state leaders of the CP are not white supremacists or antisemitic whatsoever… As judging by the outward mannerisms, public speaking, and public actions of such individuals, however.

Despite this, and excluding the late CP co-founder/former National Chairman William K. Shearer’s publicly expressed regret and remorse of his American Independent Party’s past affiliation with Willis Carto and the former Populist Party during the mid 1980’s (as documented several times in his print-only newsletter ‘The California Statesman’); there has never been an official attempt by the CP or any of its leaders to address or explain these past racial, antisemitic controversies and events that have taken place under their party’s banner, or the mere banner of a state affiliate even. In fact such history usually gets removed from any CP affiliated website, or webpage that’s controlled by someone who is a friend of the CP’s executive committee, in due time. And even serious questions or allegations made against the CP on these subjects are frequently met with either silence, or stark denial, dismissive cynicism, or even hostile ad homenims from stalwart, clannish-minded party leaders and outspoken members -and this article will not likely be an exception with the defensive criticism it is going to receive soon. And yet, even though the CP is not the only political party in this country that has such issues with past/present baggage of fringe extremism and prejudice that includes varying degrees of infiltration from radical, politically-taboo forces. Still, it has been a serious problem in the CP alone, and has been one of the leading causes for stunting this party’s once potential growth, only further adding onto it’s presently declining fortunes. Whether the Constitution Party will address that turbulent, checkered past and reform itself in order to adapt to the increasing social upheavals and changing opinions of the American voting public just so it would be able to nominate a presidential candidate in 2028, or even 2024 -which could get a significant amount of ballot access… That still, remains to be seen.

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