Paul Nehlen, the anti-Semitic white nationalist running a dead-in-the-water campaign to take the seat in Congress currently held by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, has been hemorrhaging what’s left of his campaign funds, and they’ve been going to his wife and next-door neighbor. Former campaign staffers have alleged to Right Wing Watch that the campaign is indebted to former workers and owes an ad placement company money for TV spots.
Nehlen ran against Ryan in 2016 on an anti-establishment platform that earned him the endorsements of Breitbart, Steve Bannon, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, and handfuls of other right-wing political activists. Late last year, Nehlen began pivoting down a path that would cost him much of that support but solidify him as the staunch alt-right, anti-Semitic candidate that he is today, earning himself a spot on our list of far-right candidates to watch in 2018. He’s back on Twitter now and as awful as ever.
Nehlen’s anti-Semitism has tainted his campaign in a seemingly irreversible way. A campaign email sent by Nehlen’s campaign on Easter this year included a link to “Marching to Zion,” which is a film that essentially argues that modern Jewish people are not protected by God. As the Anti-Defamation League wrote in 2014:
[T]he documentary’s promotional materials describe the film as covering a number of anti-Jewish themes, ranging from claims that “Judaism’s Messiah” is the Antichrist, to the “blasphemous teachings of the Talmud and Kabbalah,” to “scriptural evidence that the Jews are no longer God’s chosen people.”
Nehlen’s venture toward the furthest extremes of right-wing politics also came with an apparent redistribution of his campaign finances. In December, former campaign staffers told RWW that Nehlen fired his campaign staff and began directing a majority of campaign funds toward his wife and his next-door neighbor.
Nehlen’s fundraising has since cratered. Recent FEC filings show that he raised just $9,260 in the most recent filing period. As The Daily Beast’s Lachlan Markay pointed out, that is the lowest amount of funds Nehlen’s campaign has raised since he declared his 2018 candidacy last year.
According to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records, Nehlen’s campaign paid a $500 security deposit and $1,000 per month for “office rent” from January to June to a company called “Heller Investments.” According to Wisconsin records, Heller Investments is a domestic limited liability company (LLC) founded May 24, 2017, and registered to Clark Heller, who is Nehlen’s next-door-neighbor in Delavan, Wisconsin.
The registered address of Heller Investments is identical to that of a building that houses a chiropractic office also operated by Nehlen’s neighbor. Heller confirmed to Right Wing Watch that Nehlen had rented a space at this location and said that Nehlen had stopped renting the space on June 15. Heller said that he was unaware if Nehlen was still renting a campaign office and Nehlen’s campaign did not respond to our inquiry.
Nehlen has also faced scrutiny from some of the fringe alt-right voter bloc for, in part, disbursing money to his wife at the tune of $1,000 per week, according to FEC filings. In those documents, Nehlen’s wife appears as the only paid campaign staffer.
Together, Nehlen’s wife and neighbor received more than half of the $20,234 disbursed last quarter. The other half of the funds went toward web hosting, Facebook ads, mailing services, a single event at a local event venue, and gas fill-ups at the Phillips 66 down the road from Nehlen’s home.
Former campaign staffers told Right Wing Watch that late last year, around the time that Nehlen began pivoting toward the alt-right, Nehlen had told staffers that he was “pulling the plug” on his campaign. Former staffers also told Right Wing Watch that some campaign workers were still owed money from Nehlen’s campaign and that the campaign also owes money for television ads aired in local television markets. Nehlen’s campaign told us we were welcome to send questions to them but did not respond to our inquiries.
Nehlen’s campaign reported having $12,480 on hand at the end of the latest filing period. It’s also worth noting that the $100,000 that Nehlen loaned his campaign fund isn’t anywhere close to being recouped.