Idaho Lawmaker Tammy Nichols Pals With Extremists
Third-term Idaho state Sen. Tammy Nichols has associated publicly with several extremists in recent weeks, first posting a photo of herself at a GOP fundraising event with a white nationalist YouTuber she praised as “amazing,” and last week appearing on the show of a far-right livestreamer to promote a state House bill that would criminalize the administration of COVID-19 vaccines.
Previous controversies over apparent extremist ties have not deterred Nichols from spouting conspiracy theory-fueled rhetoric in public appearances and social media or from cosponsoring legislation premised on conspiracy theories about vaccines and LGBTQ people.
Nichols’ associations and her legislative agenda raise renewed questions about the Idaho GOP’s drift to the far right.
Kootenai County connections
On Feb. 13, the @nicholsforidaho Twitter account – which Nichols uses alongside a separate personal account – posted a photograph of Nichols and three other people with the caption “Amazing Idaho women with @TuckerCarlson son @alexstein99 at the @KCRCC Lincoln Days! #blondinthebellyofthebeast.”
The Lincoln Days event is an annual fundraiser hosted by the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee (KCRCC). That organization has been dominated for several years by Coeur d’Alene resident Brent Regan, who has been described as the “sugar daddy of the hard right” in Idaho politics.
Regan is also board chairman of the far-right Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF), a nonprofit that mixes attacks on public education and welfare programs with anti-LGBTQ fear campaigns targeting school libraries and college classrooms with hysteria about critical race theory (CRT).
This year’s KCRCC Lincoln Days event featured far-right Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene as a speaker. A Brent Regan column in a local newspaper reporting on the event appeared to defend Greene’s remark last December that if she and Steve Bannon had organized the Jan. 6, 2021, riots at the U.S. Capitol, “We would have won.”
In the caption of Nichols’ Lincoln Days photograph, she identified far-right Internet performer Alex Stein, whose stunts have included sexually harassing Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez last July and provoking protesters at Penn State who were there to oppose a subsequently canceled “comedy” event featuring Stein and Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes.
Nichols did not directly identify the women in the photograph, but based on a review of other photographs, videos and details of the event, Hatewatch believes one of them to be Rebecca Crockett (née Hargraves), a white nationalist YouTuber who uses her channel to promote high-profile white supremacists.
Hatewatch emailed Tammy Nichols with a request for comment but received no response.
Rebecca Crockett, far-right YouTuber
Rebecca Crockett is a white nationalist YouTuber who publishes videos on her “Blonde in the Belly of the Beast” (BBB) channel. According to Kootenai County, Idaho, property records, Crockett and her husband bought a residential property in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, in 2017, and public records and information from data brokers indicate they moved there in 2018.
The hashtag “#blondinthebellyofthebeast” appended to Nichols’ tweet refers to the channel by name, and Crockett directly responded to the post from her own Twitter account, @Blondes_tweets, writing, “Lovely to meet you.”
BBB features a mixture of live interviews and topical edited videos. Most of the interviews on her site are with prominent members of the white-supremacist movement.
For example, last month Crockett streamed an interview with neo-Nazi Paul Miller, known online as “Gypsy Crusader.” Miller was released from a federal prison on Jan. 31, 2022, after serving 16 months for possessing firearms as a felon.
Before his incarceration, Miller obtained some prominence on the far right by streaming his interactions on the online chat platform Omegle, which allows users to engage in conversation with strangers. Conversation partners are randomly assigned by the platform. On Omegle, Miller frequently directed racial slurs and abuse at users he interacted with and livestreamed those interactions to his own audience.
On BBB, Crockett allowed Miller to give unchallenged versions of events including an infamous October 2018 brawl in New York City which saw several Proud Boys charged and two incarcerated, as well as the lead-up to his imprisonment and his experience in prison.
Miller struggled to avoid using racial slurs throughout the interview, apparently to ensure that Crockett would not be penalized or deplatformed by YouTube.
“I’ll be nice,” Miller said in an early stage of the interview, adding, “‘Cause for you, Rebecca, I promised that I would behave.”
Crockett replied, “Thank you,” and later encouraged Miller in his efforts, saying, “You’re doing well.”
Crockett asked Miller whether prison had changed his views.
“Do you think that this has made you more nihilistic?” Crockett asked Miller around 40 minutes into the stream.
“Has my experience made me worse as far as my beliefs?” Miller responded and then affirmed “Oy, yeah.”
At this point Crockett began laughing and asked, “You mean prison didn’t make you less racist?”
Miller responded, “I’m sure that the tiny hat people put me in thinking, ‘This will teach him,’” using a coded description of Jewish people that antisemites have previously used on platforms where slurs may earn a ban.
Soon after, he described his prison experiences to Crockett in virulently racist terms, characterizing black prisoners as “zombies” who “infect [and] destroy everything that comes close to them.”
Crockett responded to his account supportively, saying, “What a nightmare. Good grief,” and asking Miller, “What do you think that your case says about the country?”
Miller responded by reiterating the conspiracy theory that Jews were responsible for his imprisonment, saying that it was evidence that “certain people … will use any means of the U.S. government to destroy you.”
In the description box for the video, Crockett featured a link to a page on an online store associated with the antisemitic Goyim TV video platform.
That website and a business of the same name are controlled by Joe Minadeo, originally of Petaluma, California, and reportedly a resident in Florida as of last December.
He and other users upload videos that are almost exclusively antisemitic conspiracy theories and hate speech, and they use the site to organize real-world actions including flyering and banner drops with supporters who sometimes refer to themselves as the Goyim Defense League.
At the link is a shirt whose front features a so-called “totenkopf” skull-and-crossbones symbol first used by Nazi Germany’s 3rd SS Panzer division. The back of the T-shirt bears the slogan, “Voting will not remove them,” a slogan that is identified elsewhere on the site as the “no political solution” design.
The slogan “There is no political solution” has been used in recent years by groups that indoctrinate their members with the belief that the existing political system is entirely corrupted and only insurrectionary action will deliver a white-supremacist polity.
Other guests on BBB have included white nationalist Jared Taylor; Kevin MacDonald, a prolific writer of antisemitic pseudoscience; former congressional candidate and Nick Fuentes associate Lauren Witzke; Gavin McInnes, founder of the Proud Boys hate group; white nationalist streamers Henrik Palmgren and Lana Lotkeff, whose channel Red Ice was banned from YouTube in 2019; white nationalist and failed comedian Owen Benjamin Smith aka Owen Benjamin; and white nationalist streamer Brittany Sellner (née Pettibone.)
Many of these guests had themselves been banned from YouTube when they were featured on Crockett’s channel: Benjamin’s channel was banned in December 2019; Taylor’s American Renaissance in July 2020; Red Ice in October 2019; and McInnes in December 2018.
Hatewatch contacted Crockett for comment on this reporting. In an email, she responded: “What a badge of honor! I’ve been waiting for my SPLC hit piece for years. I’m so pleased to hear about this. It’s about time!”
Stew Peters is a far-right podcaster whose personal history includes a stint as a bounty hunter and a failed bid for a rap career under the name “Fokiss.” His practices as a bounty hunter – including wearing a police-like uniform and driving a car that resembled a police cruiser – inspired a change in Minnesota law, and his own history with the law includes a teenage conviction for theft and arrests for impersonating an officer and domestic assault.
Peters emerged as a prominent voice on the far right during the COVID-19 pandemic by promoting conspiracy theories about the origins of the pandemic, public health measures and vaccines. He has also embraced other far-right causes, and in particular he regularly spouts virulently anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.
Tammy Nichols appeared on “The Stew Peters Show” on Feb. 24 during the show’s third segment to promote HB 154, which she co-sponsored with state Rep. Judy Boyle. (Boyle, an eight-term legislator, abruptly stepped down from the Idaho House Education Committee after it killed bills that would have effectively banned sex education materials from schools and public libraries.)
In the first segment, prior to Nichols’ appearance, Peters mentioned a failed Virginia bill that would have compelled schools to notify parents in cases where students were gender transitioning.
Peters advocated draconian punishments for anyone who provided gender-affirming care for children, saying that gender transitions among children “should be banned,” arguing that “Parents who allow it should be arrested on charges of child abuse,” and adding, “School teachers and counselors who groom these kids should be arrested and charged with sex crimes against children and then executed.”
The second segment featured Dr. Bodo Schiffman, a German physician whose false claims about COVID-19 reportedly helped fuel the growth of Germany’s own far-right anti-vaccine movement.
In the interview, Peters tried to elicit Schiffman’s assent to his own preferred conspiracy theories: that COVID-19 was a bioweapon developed and deliberately released by the Chinese state. Schiffman held with his own false theory that “It’s a made-up story about COVID-19. It’s something you make people believe that there is a deadly virus, and then you use the flu.”
However, when Peters asked of the vaccine, “Was this the bio weapon?” Schiffman agreed, saying,“Yes, this is for sure a bio weapon,” and adding falsely: “You bring your body in a position that it produces a deadly spike protein and is fighting against itself. So you dismantle the whole security immune system with this; yes, you can call it a bio weapon; it is, yes.”
In the third segment, Peters introduced “State Senator Tammy Nichols [who] has introduced a bill that would criminalize administering all mRNA injections within that state,” calling it “a great step in the right direction.”
In the interview, Nichols claimed that through a series of hearings involving “victims of the pandemic” led her to conclude: “This isn’t over; we could very well go through this again. And so we need to start doing things in our states now to be able to make sure that what happened then is not something that we’re going to go through again.”
She also clarified for Peters that the bill was not just aimed at doctors and that “We didn’t really specify anyone. It’s just a person. So it could be a medical care provider. It could be a pharmacy.”
Hatewatch emailed Peters for comment but received no response.
Tammy Nichols: Elected extremist
Nichols was one of several senators endorsed by the Idaho Freedom PAC (IFP) – the IFF's electoral operation – who won or retained their seats in the 2022 Idaho general election, even as the far right suffered reversals in the statehouse. Since then, her legislative efforts have been entirely in keeping with the IFF’s far-right agenda.
One Nichols-sponsored bill this session would have instituted a voucher program that funded home-school and private school students, but it was voted down. The IFF has consistently attacked public education throughout its existence. Nichols has apparently only tweeted twice promoting the policy that advocates describe as “school choice.” Each of the tweets linked to lurid videos claiming to show Black students physically attacking students and teachers, thus linking “school choice” with far-right narratives of Black criminality.
Along with HB 154 – the bill that would outlaw mRNA vaccines – Nichols introduced another bill that would require a consumer advisory if there were “vaccine materials” in food, though it remains unclear to what vaccine materials the bill refers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, IFF attacked public health measures, including mask and vaccine mandates.
Nichols also is currently cosponsoring bills that would extend existing Idaho law forbidding child genital mutilation to criminalize various forms of gender-affirming medical treatment, including so-called puberty blockers, and another that widens the ground on which a homeowner can claim self-defense if they threaten, injure or kill someone at their house.
Nichols has previously attracted criticism over her apparent extremist connections: a convicted child sex offender who repeatedly wore attire associated with the Proud Boys acted as her bodyguard; she was an active participant in Facebook groups associated with paramilitary antigovernment, anti-Islamic and anti-vaccine movements; and she posted memes that appeared to advocate violence against her political opponents.