Hatewatch

Arizona Tea Party Affiliate Promoting Hate Group Leader

Arizonans who fretted that the recent cancellation of Glenn Spencer’s testimony before the state Senate Border Security Committee meant that Spencer would be prevented from sharing his paranoid visions of marauding migrants can rest easy. Even if Spencer never makes it to the Senate, interested senators are going to see Spencer — and so can everyday citizens wanting to hear the hate group leader’s nativist propaganda straight from the source.

Visits to Spencer’s Cochise County ranch, including a tour and a briefing from Spencer, are being sponsored by the Arizona 2012 Project, an affiliate of the Tea Party Patriots. The Maricopa County Republican Committee promotes upcoming tour dates on its website.

During the most recent tour Saturday, two Republican Arizona state senators, Sylvia Allen and Al Melvin, were among the approximately 50 people that Spencer estimated visited his ranch on Saturday, Spencer reported on his website. Allen, who chairs the state Senate Border Security Committee, had initially invited Spencer to testify about border issues in March. The hate group leader was disinvited after the two Democrats on the committee sent Allen a public letter requesting that his appearance be cancelled because of his “divisiveness” and “hatred.”

For his part, Melvin is a former member of the now-defunct vigilante group Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, whose founder Chris Simcox was a buddy of Spencer’s. In 2010, while pushing the state to establish an all-volunteer border security force, Melvin said: “There are many of us, including me, who would like to see the concept of the Minutemen come back. I think there’s a way to make it work.”

Asked why he was promoting such a polarizing figure, Arizona 2012 Project Chairman Ronald Ludders didn’t blink. “We find Glenn Spencer to be a very delightful, upstanding citizen, interested in border security as we are,” he told Hatewatch today.

More like obsessed. For years, Spencer has peddled a racist conspiracy theory that suggests that the Mexican government is purposely sending undocumented immigrants northward as part of a plan to “reconquer” the American Southwest and, ultimately, transform it into a northern Mexican state to be called Aztlan. He conceives of his anti-immigrant hate group, American Border Patrol, as a “shadow Border Patrol.” Using high-tech sensors, infrared video-cameras mounted on model airplanes, and “citizens” roaming the often mountainous terrain on ATVs, Spencer’s operation was designed to embarrass the federal government into fully militarizing the border by capturing images of undocumented workers on film and uploading them to the American Border Patrol website for all to see.

Spencer doesn’t limit himself to bashing immigrants. In 2008, he wrote a blog post titled “Is Jew-Controlled Hollywood Brainwashing Americans?” (The answer, he concluded, was yes.) The same year, he allowed Shawna Forde – then a much-disliked border vigilante, now a convicted child-killer – to live in an RV on his ranch. In 1998, he gave a speech to the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens, a racist group that has called blacks “a retrograde species of humanity.” In 2001, Spencer had Betina McCann, then the fiancée of neo-Nazi Steven Barry, hand-deliver copies of his film “Bonds of Our Nation” to every member of Congress (the video largely rehashes his Aztlan conspiracy theory). Spencer has flirted with major white supremacist and anti-Semitic figures, and he once promoted a booklet from a white hate group falsely alleging that blacks and Latinos are far more likely than whites to carry out hate crimes.

Spencer isn’t the only unpleasant character that Tea Party Patriots affiliates have promoted. Last May, Gatlinburg, Tenn.’s chapter hosted Pam Geller, the vitriolic head of the Muslim-bashing group Stop Islamization of America, which the Southern Poverty Law Center designated a hate group this year.

The Arizona 2012 Project’s Ludders denies that Spencer — whom he calls a friend — is either racist or anti-Semitic. “I do not hang out with people that would have any prejudice towards these nice and very polite people,” he said, referring to Mexicans. Regarding Spencer’s article on Jews and Hollywood (in which he wrote most Jews “hated the U.S. and sought to achieve a globalist Communist society”), Ludders told Hatewatch: “If that’s his opinion, it doesn’t mean he’s an anti-Semite. I think the President of the United States is immature, but that doesn’t make me anti-black. So A plus B doesn’t equal C.”

The Maricopa County Republican Party did not respond today to a request for comment on their role in promoting the ranch tours in the online calendar.