About Lydia Brimelow
Lydia Brimelow, the 38-year-old wife of VDARE founder Peter Brimelow, 75, became president of the website’s eponymous foundation in 2020. While Brimelow has actively supported VDARE-tied business ventures since 2008, she has since become an integral part of her husband’s white nationalist publishing business.
In February 2020, the Brimelows purchased a castle for $1.4 million without the help of a loan in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, about a two-hour drive from downtown Washington, D.C. Since then, Lydia and Peter Brimelow have hosted multiple gatherings of white supremacists at the location, including conferences and fundraising events.
In Her Own Words
“One of the things we talk about [at VDARE] is this idea that diversity is strength, which could not be less true. Diversity is weakness.”
–Lydia Brimelow, on “Coffee and a Mike” podcast, Nov. 23, 2022
“As the President of the VDARE Foundation, I work alongside my husband, Editor of VDARE.com, Peter Brimelow, to defeat the post-1964 Immigration Act disaster that has set America on a course of destruction.”
–Lydia Brimelow, referencing the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 in “VDARE to America’s Compromised Institutions: We Will Replace You,” Nov. 22, 2022
“I’m not even 40 and I knew this world, because my traditionalist parents signed us all up for cotillion. It’s not as far outside your grips as you might think.”
– Lydia Brimelow, responding to a post on the extremist-friendly platform Gab, April 18, 2022. A cotillion refers to a style of dance that originated in 18th-century Europe. The post includes an image of all-white middle-school aged children at a formal dance with text that reads: “A world you never knew, because it was stolen from you,” an apparent reference to the “great replacement” conspiracy theory.
“The new waves of aliens crashing on the southern border originate in South America, the Islamic world, Nigeria, Haiti, and parts of Asia. These aliens openly claim that our American homeland, our beautiful country, is everybody’s country.”
–Lydia Brimelow, “America: It’s Murder, Not Suicide – And We Need Your Help to Stop It,” Dec. 2, 2021
Lydia Brimelow, née Sullivan, is the publisher of the white nationalist website VDARE.com and the president of the VDARE Foundation. A native of a suburb of Dallas, Texas, she married VDARE founder Peter Brimelow in 2007 at the age of 22. Lydia Brimelow then started to become a crucial partner in VDARE’s day-to-day business operations, particularly after the group relocated to Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, in 2020.
Tax records and Lydia Brimelow’s own biography on the VDARE.com website identify her as the president of the VDARE Foundation, a 501(c)(3) founded by Peter Brimelow in 2008 that serves as the funding arm for the racist website. She is also publisher of VDARE.com, according to her biography there. While serving in these positions, Lydia Brimelow has assisted in fundraising for the organization and acted as a primary point of contact for multiple VDARE-tied LLCs and VDARE’s membership-only 1620 Society.
Originally founded in 1999, VDARE has functioned as a bridge, bringing together more mainstream critics of U.S. immigration policy, including prominent figures within the Republican Party, with members of the white nationalist fringe. Its founder, former Forbes editor and National Review columnist Peter Brimelow, is a British-born anti-immigrant stalwart with extensive, enduring ties to the American nativist movement. Brimelow has derided efforts to characterize both him and his website as “white nationalist” as “guilt-by-association conspiracy theorists.”
However, as the SPLC has extensively documented, VDARE’s website has published defense of the writings of far-right terrorists and promoted racist conspiracy theories such as the “great replacement,” the false belief that elites are systematically eliminating whites through non-white immigration. Her exact role in editorial decision-making at VDARE is difficult to know. In the years since Brimelow has taken a more active role, however, VDARE has downplayed the violence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, circulated racist conspiracies about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, and encouraged their audience to flee big cities in favor of towns like Berkeley Springs.
Additionally, under her leadership, VDARE has continued to welcome contributors who have advocated for revolutionary violence or organized events that resulted in violence and death. Jason Kessler, an organizer of the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally, has contributed to VDARE’s website since April 2017. Likewise, VDARE has published the work of Kevin DeAnna since 2011. DeAnna, at a different white nationalist publication, referenced SIEGE, a text advocating for acts of revolutionary terrorism in the interest of producing a white ethnostate, in a positive context.
Peter Brimelow’s previous stature in the conservative movement, as well as his proximity to such prominent hard-right commentators as Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin and Pat Buchanan, has allowed VDARE to rub shoulders with segments of the mainstream right in a way that other white nationalist organizations cannot. As the Southern Poverty Law Center’s publishing arm, Hatewatch, has previously documented, VDARE enjoyed proximity to a handful of White House officials throughout former President Donald Trump’s administration.
In 2022, Hatewatch reporters observed Lydia Brimelow with her husband at a New York Young Republican Club (NYYRC) gala in New York City snapping selfies and embracing former Trump adviser Steve Bannon. The event featured an array of speakers associated with the pro-Trump movement, including Donald Trump Jr., Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and racist political operative and propagandist Jack Posobiec.
Brimelow’s longstanding involvement in VDARE
While Lydia Brimelow claims in her biography on the VDARE website that she “began at VDARE.com in 2014,” the SPLC found evidence that she may have started contributing to the white nationalist site in 2005 under the pseudonym “Athena Kerry.”
At the time, Lydia Brimelow was a college student at Loyola University Chicago.
The SPLC reached out to Lydia Brimelow for comment over email. Brimelow declined to respond to a series of questions about her role at VDARE and the “Athena Kerry” pseudonym.
The SPLC was able to connect Brimelow to the “Athena Kerry” pseudonym through a now-deleted antifascist blog and biographical details that “Kerry” shared in her blog posts. In “Kerry’s” first article on VDARE.com, which she published on Sept. 5, 2005, she identified herself as “a Resident Assistant (student counselor) in an undergraduate dorm in a well-known Catholic university.” In another 2006 post, “Kerry” gripes about the “PC-saturated world of university life.”
Loyola University Chicago is one of the largest Catholic universities in the United States. Peter Brimelow has also indicated in past VDARE.com posts that he and Lydia were in contact while she was a student.
An SPLC staffer reached out to Loyola University Chicago in order to verify when Lydia Brimelow attended the school but did not hear back.
“Kerry” also references growing up in Texas, where Brimelow lived as a child.
Peter and Lydia Brimelow were married on Feb. 24, 2007, according to a post on the VDARE website. At the time, Lydia was 22, and Peter was 60.
In the months after Lydia and Peter’s wedding, “Kerry” began posting occasional staff or organizational updates indicating that she served in a more formal staff role. Examples of these include “Kerry” sharing a link to a 2007 panel at the Hudson Institute featuring Peter Brimelow or publishing a 2013 post announcing VDARE.com’s intent to live-tweet then-President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.
A blogger and associate of the antifascist activism and research group One People’s Project offered additional evidence connecting the “Athena Kerry” pseudonym to Lydia Brimelow in a Dec. 16, 2008, post published on his “Steve Sailer Sucks” site. In that post, the blogger shared a photo that they said “Athena Kerry” had previously used as an author photo on the VDARE.com website. The person in the photo resembles other images of Lydia Brimelow from around that time. The SPLC reviewed archives of VDARE.com in an effort to independently identify “Athena Kerry” using that same photo but did not find archives of “Kerry’s” posts from prior to that date.
“Athena Kerry” published her last article on VDARE.com in June 2014. In November 2014, Lydia Brimelow shared her first bylined post on the VDARE website announcing a forthcoming planned year-end fundraiser.
SPLC also found further evidence of Lydia Brimelow’s involvement with VDARE.com and its affiliated properties prior to 2014 through a review of incorporation and tax documents associated with the VDARE Foundation and other corporate entities. An “Articles of Organization” document filed with the Connecticut secretary of state on Nov. 4, 2008, for the Brimelows’ limited liability corporation, Happy Penguins, lists both Lydia and Peter as members of the company.
An increasingly crucial business partner
During the Trump administration, corporate records indicate that Lydia Brimelow’s role with the organization deepened. SPLC found Lydia Brimelow listed as the person responsible for VDARE’s business records on tax filings from 2016 to 2019 for the VDARE Foundation. Brimelow’s role changed once again in 2020, when the person who filed the VDARE Foundation’s taxes listed her as the company’s “president.” That year, tax records indicate she earned a salary of $41,500 through the VDARE Foundation.
She began publishing appeals to donors on the VDARE website in 2014. Early on, Brimelow’s fundraising efforts to support the racist publication appear more positive and celebratory. In her pitch to donors, Brimelow asked for funding to pay for staff and technology needed to operate the website.
SPLC reviewed archived fundraising messages on VDARE’s website and found that efforts to limit the organization’s ability to promote content online, referred to as “deplatforming,” and gather in person resulted in a shift in both the quantity and quality of Brimelow’s fundraising appeals. Marketing material published during Donald Trump’s first presidential campaign and his first few years in office appeared almost celebratory. For instance, in one appeal on Dec. 2, 2015, issued several months after then-candidate Trump announced his intention to run for president, Brimelow bragged, “I know for certain that VDARE.com publicans have been placed in the hands of Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham and many others who have the ability to influence the future of America.”
Later in the same message, she makes clear that she sees the site’s role as serving as a guide, writing “We at VDARE.COM are the only voice of the historic American nation. Add yours to the chorus.” (Italics are in the original.)
Following the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in August 2017, various online services and venues began banning VDARE. In August of that same year, the payment processing site PayPal banned VDARE, among other white nationalist outlets, and a resort in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where VDARE was intending to have a conference several months later, declined to host their event. Since then, other sites and services, including Facebook (which banned it in 2020 for “inauthentic behavior”) and Stripe (which banned it in late 2020), have dropped the racist website as a client.
These limitations did not immediately impact VDARE’s ability to fundraise, however. After years of earnings in the mid-to-low six figures, the VDARE Foundation’s annual revenue jumped to nearly $4.5 million in 2019, including a $1.5 million gift from the Mercer- and Koch-tied DonorsTrust, as Hatewatch and the Center for Media and Democracy previously reported. However, the group’s total revenue dropped once again to $652,883 for the fiscal year period ending in December 2020, according to SPLC’s review of the foundation’s records.
Donations from more mainstream funding sources, like DonorsTrust, have continued to decline as well, as Hatewatch previously reported. DonorsTrust only gave VDARE $75,000 and $33,000 in 2020 and 2021 respectively via its foundation. Likewise, the National Philanthropic Trust, which also has ties to the Koch network, gave VDARE $50,000 in 2019 but nothing in 2020.
Nevertheless, since the end of the Trump administration, Brimelow’s appeals have become decidedly more fatalist. For instance, in a July 11, 2022, fundraising appeal, she wrote: “What feeds our fire, kills them. Help us kill the darkness! Please donate now.”
Now, amid requests to fund staff, purchase new technology, and update and maintain VDARE’s property holdings, Brimelow has mixed in claims about being silenced, harassed and forced into in financial hardship for telling the truth about race and immigration into her appeals. As a result, her calls for donations have become another venue for VDARE’s breed of white nationalist commentary.
Fundraising off the ‘great replacement’
Brimelow has used VDARE fundraising appeals to push the “great replacement,” an inherently white supremacist conspiracy theory that purports a small cadre of elites, often Jews, are orchestrating the displacement of a white majority through non-white migration. Within the past several years, several accused and convicted white supremacist terrorists have cited the racist trope as their rationale for engaging, or allegedly engaging, in acts of grotesque white supremacist violence.
For instance, in one nearly 1,500-word appeal for donations from July 11, 2022, Brimelow cited the “great replacement” less than two months after a white supremacist mass murderer cited the racist myth as his motive for murdering 10 African American people in Buffalo, New York. Brimelow credited her website with popularizing the term among the broader right-wing movement, referring to it as one of the “Fires We Lit.”
“We develop concepts about the peril facing America, and we communicate those concepts in ways that spark interest with major patriotic influences, spread like wildfire through their large audiences and light the way forward for patriots everywhere,” Brimelow said of these “fires.”
In another pitch from Dec. 31, 2022, Brimelow stoked these fears of white replacement among her readership, writing: “VDARE.com will not stop providing deep and honest coverage and analysis of immigration and other issues pertaining to the survival of the Historic American Nation [sic]. We are committed – because we cannot be otherwise. The stakes are too high.”
The theme of replacement echoed throughout VDARE’s 2022 Christmas fundraising drive. In a Dec. 9, 2022, message, Brimelow wrote, “We fight as an act of devotion to those we love and the country we love, and as an act duty for things our ancestors fought for … which is why the Regime persecutes [sic], almost unthinkingly, even the mildest attempts to speak to the truth.”
A white nationalist Christmas story
As Brimelow takes over an operational role within VDARE’s business enterprise, she has also led the effort to mainstream the organization’s presence in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, by working closely with a group responsible for installing holiday decorations around town, including on VDARE property.
Peter and Lydia Brimelow purchased a castle in Berkeley Springs in February 2020 for $1.4 million without the help of a loan, as Hatewatch reported in 2020. Known within the community as the Berkeley Springs castle, the property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Lydia Brimelow described the castle as a safe space from “ANTIFA intimidation” in a Dec. 3, 2020, post announcing the formation of the 1620 Society.
“The gates will always be open and welcoming to VDARE’s friends and donors,” she added.
Working closely with the Bath Christmas Project, Brimelow – who sits on the organization’s board – appears to be responsible for fundraising and hiring staff for the group. Hatewatch reported in a 2022 investigation that VDARE has donated thousands of dollars to the Bath Christmas Project and provides space for the project’s holiday events at VDARE’s property.
The investigation revealed that Brimelow is leading VDARE’s efforts to legitimize the group’s racist values to locals. She has done this through flexing financial power, attending meetings of the local historic landmarks commission and joining the Bath Christmas Project’s board.
Nowhere in the project’s social media or press releases promoting the holiday events does the Bath Christmas Project explain VDARE’s ownership of the castle, its fundraising for the project, or Brimelow’s history of producing propaganda for the white nationalist movement.
Some community members expressed concerns to Hatewatch that VDARE’s arrival in their town has nurtured a climate of fear in Berkeley Springs.
“No one I knew had even heard of VDARE when they came. … It felt a little like the Klan coming to town,” one resident said of the Brimelows to Hatewatch in 2022.
“But people say, ‘Let’s not raise any hackles.’ It’s a small town and people are just afraid to say anything,” she added.