The federal government program intended to support businesses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic awarded more than $20,000 in forgivable loans to a far-right livestreamer and treasurer for a white nationalist nonprofit, Hatewatch found.
A U.S. Small Business Association-approved lender delivered $20,832 in funds on May 27, 2021, to Jaden McNeil, a racist livestreamer and close ally of white nationalist Nick Fuentes who stood alongside Fuentes as he appeared to encourage insurrectionists outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Hatewatch determined McNeil received these funds through its review of a public federal loan database from ProPublica. The government intended these loans, part of the Payment Protection Program (PPP), to be for small businesses and self-employed workers to support their employees or themselves through the COVID-19 pandemic.
McNeil, who once claimed, “The American regime hates white people,” applied for federal funding in the category of “independent artists, writers, and performers.” These types of loans are capped at $20,833 for sole proprietors – in this case, individual creators who do not retain a staff. Under certain circumstances, government-approved lenders can forgive these types of loans. It is unclear if the lending agency behind McNeil’s loan has permitted him to do so.
The government made PPP loans available to freelancers to compensate them for lost income as a result of the pandemic. However, Hatewatch determined that McNeil earned over $63,000 in donations on the youth-targeted streaming platform DLive between spring 2020 and March 2021. During this time, McNeil was one of the highest earners on the platform. McNeil left DLive in fall 2021. Now, he livestreams on Cozy.TV, a video-streaming site that Fuentes constructed following the Jan. 6 insurrection. He also maintains a video archive on YouTube.
McNeil is not the only far-right extremist who has received federal aid intended for struggling small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. In August 2020, the Center for Media and Democracy found that the SBA distributed between $2.35 and $5.7 million dollars in loans to six groups designated as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. A subsequent NBC News investigation found that 14 SPLC-designated hate groups received $4.3 million, including the white nationalist American Renaissance and the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies.
“Time and time again, the federal government props up hate operations. The IRS continues to grant tax-exempt status to hate groups,” Alex Kotch, a senior investigative reporter at the Center for Media and Democracy and the executive director of the OptOut Media Foundation, told Hatewatch in an email. “Sending forgivable PPP loans to a white nationalist media personality is equally outrageous.”
“Speech that incites lawbreaking, including hate crimes, is not protected under the First Amendment, so why should U.S. taxpayers have to subsidize dangerous white nationalists?” Kotch added.
Hatewatch reached out to McNeil over email and the messaging app Telegram. Hatewatch also contacted the SBA over email. Neither responded to these requests for comment.
‘We have had it’
McNeil mostly streams video games and commentary on Fuentes’s Cozy.TV platform. But he has also rallied alongside Fuentes at a number of anti-democracy “Stop the Steal” events in late 2020 and early 2021, including the Trump-rally-turned-riot in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021.
“The Republican Party has sold us out, and we have had it. We are done with them,” McNeil said during a Nov. 21, 2020, “Stop the Steal” event in Atlanta.
Hatewatch identified McNeil on the outskirts of the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, 2021, standing alongside Fuentes, through video footage posted on Bitchute, a video-streaming site popular with the extreme right. There, Fuentes gave a speech in which he appeared to encourage insurrectionists, calling on them to “break down the barricades and disregard the police.” McNeil also posted photos to his personal channel on the encrypted messaging app Telegram on Jan. 7, 2021, showing that he attended Trump’s speech prior to the Capitol riot with Fuentes and Vincent James Foxx, a former propagandist for the white nationalist Rise Above Movement.
As Hatewatch reported in January 2022, the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection subpoenaed Fuentes and another former close ally, Patrick Casey, for their role in that day’s events.
McNeil serves as the treasurer of Fuentes’s America First Foundation, according to corporate records that Fuentes, or someone close to him, filed with the state of Texas in June 2021.
Though the nonprofit’s stated mission is “to educate, promote, and advocate for conservative values based on the principles of American Nationalism, Christianity, and Traditionalism,” Fuentes has said his political objectives are to work within the political system to transform the Republican Party into a far-right reactionary movement, while preserving America’s “white demographic core.” Fuentes launched his organization, which is a 501(c)4 nonprofit, in early 2021 during the America First Political Action Conference – an annual event that takes place alongside the more mainstream Conservative Political Action Conference.
“Difficult times reveal a man’s true character. Loyalty is the bedrock of everything we do,” McNeil wrote in a Telegram post from Feb. 12, 2021, one day after another one of Fuentes’ former allies accused him of producing a “cult-like atmosphere.”
“Nick has always had my back and I’ll always have his. America First Forever,” he added.
Photo illustration by SPLC