Now You See It, Now You Don’t: Hate Group Nod Gone from Diane Harkey’s Website

Diane Harkey (State Board of Equalization photo)

An endorsement from San Diegans for Secure Borders was pulled from 49th congressional district Republican candidate Diane Harkey’s campaign website shortly after it was disclosed the group promotes white nationalist propaganda and attacks Latino and Muslim immigrants as foreign invaders.

Media Matters for America, a Washington, D.C.-based progressive nonprofit with a mission of “comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media,” first pointed out Wednesday that Harkey had touted the San Diegans for Secure Borders endorsement of her.

That disclosure brought out the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee guns, in the form of spokesman Drew Godinich, who said, “Diane Harkey touting a known hate group’s endorsement on her website is beyond disturbing–and for the NRCC [National Republican Congressional Committee] to support a second Orange County congressional candidate who proudly displays their ties to the worst elements of our society is just as disturbing. Harkey and the NRCC should immediately disavow this group.”

The “second Orange County congressional candidate who proudly displays their ties to the worst elements of our society” is a reference to Surf City-based Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-Putin’s White House), who has endorsed a local school board candidate aligned with the alt right and aligned himself with an alt-right blogger, both of whom have minimized the Holocaust.

The jury’s (or actually voters’) out on how well that will play on the Nov. 6 election day in 30-year congressman Rohrabacher’s 48th district, but changing demographics in Harkey’s 49th obviously prompted the three-time state legislator, former Dana Point mayor and councilwoman and current State Board of Equalization chairwoman to yank the perceived hate group’s nod from her website. She and her campaign could not be reached for comment late Wednesday.

The San Diegans for Secure Borders endorsement of Harkey both in the June primary and now in the general do still exist on that group’s social media outlets. A Media Matters review of the SDSB Facebook page found that it:

  • Posted anti-immigrant propaganda from VDare, a leading white nationalist website, in at least 14 instances. The SDSB-linked pieces include white nationalist propaganda and a piece written by an author who has described himself as a “mild and tolerant” “racist”;
  • Attacked undocumented Latino immigrants as foreign invaders and claimed Mexico wants “to control [California] again through mass occupation, and they are. Latinos (mostly Mexicans) are now the dominant ‘race’ in California”; and
  • Claimed that there’s a Muslim “invasion” in California and Muslim candidates could bring “Sharia Law in our Congress.”

SDSB ’s Facebook page promoted VDare content on at least 14 occasions between Jan. 7, 2013, and Aug. 13 of this year. Meanwhile, VDare wrote of SDSB in March 2013, “There’s a new coalition in California, fighting for immigration enforcement and against amnesty. It’s called the ‘San Diegans for Secure Borders Coalition.’ … You might check the coalition out, especially if you reside in the San Diego area.” SDSB responded by writing: “Nice little plug from VDARE. And we’re just getting started.”

A 2007 Southern Poverty Law Center report concluded that when SDSB leader Jeff Schwilk was in charge of the San Diego Minutemen, the group physically intimidated migrants and called them racist slurs. In 2009, a jury ordered Schwilk to pay $135,000 for defaming an Asian-American immigration activist with racist and derogatory remarks; Schwilk reportedly said, “She is Korean. She looks anorexic, and she dresses and looks like a slut.”

And once, in a radio interview, Schwilk falsely claimed that “not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.”

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.

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