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Shawn Vestal: Kootenai County GOP gives thumbs-up to anti-Semitic carpetbagger

The Kootenai County GOP tweeted out its endorsement of David Reilly.

What do you do when you hear that a dude who’s running for school board once claimed that it was a “mistake” to give women the right to vote or that women should not be allowed on social media?

Or that this would-be school board member tweeted “Judaism is the religion of the anti-Christ” and “all Jews are dangerous” and any number of other anti-Semitic things?

Or that this guy was a guest on Red Ice TV, a white nationalist web show that was booted off YouTube for violating its hate-speech policies?

If you’re Brent Regan and the burn-down-the-house Kootenai County GOP, you give the carpetbagger David Reilly your full, unqualified endorsement as a candidate for the Post Falls School Board. The endorsement still stands after a wave of national and local attention on Reilly in the past two weeks.

Regan is head of the KCGOP and board chairman of the radical, anti-education Idaho Freedom Foundation, which is currently working to sicken Idahoans with conspiracy lies and to blame the COVID-19 crisis on hospitals.

Few figures have been as instrumental in the souring of traditional North Idaho conservatism into anti-social extremism as Regan, whose fingerprints are all over the hostile takeover of the North Idaho College board of trustees, which just fired the president for no good reason.

Regan and the IFF have aggressively pushed an ever-more fractious, ever-less solidly hinged attack on anyone other than the farthest of far-right politicians, creating a conservative civil war in Kootenai County.

Reilly is not the first dumb, young bigot to run for office in North Idaho, but they didn’t used to do it with the party’s sanction.

He lost his job as a radio broadcaster in Pennsylvania, at the station owned by his father, over his seemingly admiring coverage of the Unite the Right rally. This included him tweeting: “Good morning. The #AltRight slept tight and #Antifa is still sleeping. Probably hung over or dope-sick. See yall at Lee Park. #Unite the Right.”

He then wrote for two years for Culture Wars magazine, founded by E. Michael Jones, whom the Anti-Defamation League called “an anti-Semitic Catholic writer who promotes the view that Jews are dedicated to propagating and perpetrating attacks on the Catholic Church and moral standards, social stability, and political order throughout the world.”

In 2019, Reilly wrote in Culture Wars, “Although it’s true that the Catholic Church has been infiltrated by homosexuals, Jews, and bad leadership, the Catholic faith is too old and too deeply internalized and too minutely codified to be co-opted by the evil intentions of social engineers.”

He tweeted in January that “white privilege is a thing because Jews pretend to be white when it’s expedient for them. Everyone else in European heritage is left footing the bill, and taking blame for their bad behavior.”

He tweeted a two-panel image of a nail labeled “Judeo” and a nail impaling a palm reading “Christian.” He compared Pete Buttigieg and his husband adopting a child to sex trafficking. He shared an article purporting to show that 61% of Americans believed in at least one anti-Semitic trope, adding, “Good news! Let’s get those numbers up!”

He’s scrubbed the tweets from his timelines, presumably because he realizes they make him seem like an awful person, but they live on in screenshots.

He’s a terrible candidate in other ways. He’s only lived in Post Falls since 2020, according to his KCGOP questionnaire. He’s never had a child in school; he and his wife have a young daughter, and they have agreed “that the one thing that is absolutely out of the question was the idea of sending her to a public school.” He says he will not allow anything to be taught that is contrary to his version of Christian theology.

Also: He plays the role of victim with the devotion of Meryl Streep adopting an accent.

Asked by the Coeur d’Alene Press about all of this, he said, “As a result of these attacks on me and my family by radical left-wing activists, I have been able to more closely imitate Jesus Christ, who was mocked, scourged, put on a show trial, spat upon and ultimately killed.”

Just like Jesus, who famously scrubbed all of his own anti-Semitic tweets.

Naturally, in his answers to a KCGOP questionnaire, Reilly achieves the full monty on allegiance to the hard-right cult: Trump worship, critical race theory opposition, hatred of teachers unions …

So long as you check those boxes, Regan and the KCGOP don’t mind at all if you also say all Jews are dangerous. In reply to an email asking whether the party is reconsidering its endorsement, Regan wrote only: “Our next general meeting is the 26th.”

As of Thursday, Reilly still had a big blue check mark on the party’s web page.

The malign influence of extremists is poisoning our politics, and it has created deep fault lines among conservatives in North Idaho. Earlier this month, a group of community leaders took out a full-page ad in the Coeur d’Alene Press, imploring people to reject “chaos, anger and government instability.”

The ad, paid for by members of the Jobs Plus-Coeur d’Alene Area Economic Development Corp., was signed by key leaders, including Mayor Steve Widmeyer, County Commissioner Chris Fillios, Post Falls School Superintendent Dena Naccarato, Hayden Mayor Steve Griffits, and several others in business and politics.

The leaders wrote about the civility and collaboration among community leaders in the 1980s and 1990s that helped revitalize the community as the timber economy was fading. They noted the community faces new challenges – including its politics.

“There’s a new foe we are all fighting: the type of division that can ultimately lead to irreparable damage to a community.”

It does not mention Regan or the KCGOP by name, but it does not need to. The examples it offers are the NIC mess, pandemic pickets at the hospital, anti-masker mob scenes at the school district and public officials quitting over the intense anger and pressure.

The open letter also speaks specifically to the upcoming election, in words that are not directed at Reilly but easily could be.

“One of our most sacred freedoms ensures that no one can tell you how to vote,” it says. “Nor should anyone try. All we ask is that you truly understand who these candidates are, what their motivations may be, and the experience they bring to the office they seek.”

Editor’s note: This column has been corrected. The original version incorrectly quoted a tweet that actually read “all Jews are dangerous.”

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