Judge Roy Moore, the controversial Republican nominee for Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ open U.S. Senate seat, reportedly accepted a $1,000 donation years ago from Willis Carto, the now-dead co-founder of the Newport Beach-based Institute for Historical Review, which has foisted white power, antisemitic conspiracies and the denial or downplaying of the Holocaust since 1978.
Carto did not make the 2005 donation to Moore’s nonprofit Foundation for Moral Law on behalf of the IHR, which over its nearly 40-year history has also been headquartered in Costa Mesa and Torrance, but the Foundation to Defend the First Amendment.
As reported on The Huffington Post, the FDFA was but one of several nonprofits Carto used to spread money to like-minded groups, but Moore should feel special because his Foundation for Moral Law was among only a few that did explicitly deny the Holocaust.
Here’s a funny quote in the HuffPo piece from Todd Blodgett, who ran the white supremacist record label Resistance Records when Carto owned it and later became an FBI informant, on the ideology of the Foundation to Defend the First Amendment: “Total Nazi; and notice I didn’t say neo-Nazi.”
Follow the HuffPo link for Blodgett’s description of staff meetings for Carto’s hate magazine The Spotlight. (Hint: The ADL won’t like it.) Carto and several Spotlight staff members went off to start American Free Press, whose stable of writers included Michael Collins Piper, who turns up in my coverage of retired South Orange County Community College District trustee Steve Frogue, which you might have better luck finding in a Way-Way Back Machine than the OCW archives.
Carto, a U.S. Army veteran and World War II Purple Heart recipient, died in 2015 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Before that blessed event, he had supported former Alabama Gov. George Wallace’s segregationist presidential campaign in 1968, founded the Populist Party that propped up ex-Klan leader David Duke and written a 1982 book that includes praise for Catholic priest Father Charles Coughlin, who supported the policies of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini in radio commentaries.
At least Carto had this going for him: He was run out of IHR for embezzling $7.5 million from haters across the land and, in 2007, he condemned “genocidal maniacs like Vice President Cheney and commentator Bill O’Reilly” for their support of the Bush administration’s attack on Iraq.
Carto was a familiar presence in OC Weekly over the years, having even turned up in two of my own stories: one that connected him to the National Holocaust Museum shooter and another that connected South County Queen of the Birfers Orly Taitz to a white supremacist website that sprang from a publication he founded.
The greatest local story involving Carto happened 15 years before there even was an OC Weekly. His IHR offered $50,000 to anyone who could prove Jews were gassed at Auschwirtz. Mel Mermelstein submitted a notarized account of his internment at the notorious concentration camp, where as a child he witnessed Nazi guards ushering his mother and two sisters into what he later learned was gas chamber No. 5. When the IHR refused to pay Mermelstein, the sole survivor of his family’s extermination at Auschwitz sued and won a $90,000 judgment. Leonard Nimoy went on to play Mermelstein in the movie.
Moore was famously propped up as the Alabama GOP Senate nominee by Breitbart Führer Steve Bannon, despite the support for incumbent appointee Luther Strange by Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell. The former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court has not publicly displayed Holocaust denier bonafides, but he has: blamed the 9/11 attacks on gays and abortion; called for the criminalization of homosexuality; opposed Muslims being allowed to serve in Congress; alleged that former President Barack Obama is not an American citizen; refused to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage; lamented divisions between “reds” and “yellows” (as in Native Americans and Asian-Americans); and claimed, without being able to produce evidence, that some parts of the U.S. operate under Sharia Law.
Someone go to Arlington to wipe that big smile off the Carto corpse.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.