Laura Loomer, a once-prominent right-wing activist, frequently solicits donations from her followers so that she may create what she calls “independent journalism.” She hasn’t disclosed to her supporters that she’s working with an anti-Muslim hate group and that their mailed donations are arriving at that organization’s doorstep—or in its mailbox, to be more exact.
Researchers at One People’s Project, a U.S.-based anti-racist organization, first noticed that Loomer listed a post office box address on a donations solicitation she posted on Instagram that was identical to the one used by the anti-Muslim hate group United West. Three days ago, after her arrest on the grounds of the California governor’s mansion in Sacramento, where Democrat Gavin Newsom presides, Loomer directed fans who wanted to support her “independent journalism” to send contributions to her PayPal account or to mail them to a P.O. box in Lake Worth, Florida.
The address she provided to fans is the same P.O. box used by the organization, The United West.
“As you know, Laura is a colleague of ours,” The United West Executive Director Tom Trento said in an October 28, 2018 video posted on YouTube. If Loomer’s recent Instagram posts are any indication, she appears to still be working with the group. On February 1, United West published a video advertisement prominently featuring Loomer that advertised a trip to Israel that lists Loomer among its featured VIPs—a list topped by Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity, which also includes several prominent anti-Muslim activists.
The United West was recognized as an active anti-Muslim hate group in the United States by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2017. It has also been recognized as an Islamophobic group by the Center for American-Islamic Relations.
The United West states its core mission to be advocating for laws “to halt the expansion of Shariah law in the USA and other Free Nations.” To halt that supposed “expansion,” The United West advocates a policy that would treat accused terrorists who cite Islamic religious beliefs as their rationale as military combatants. The group also calls for the cut-off United Nations funding for programs that assist Palestine refugees. The organization’s leaders also attempt to dissuade voters not to cast their ballots for Muslims who pursue elected office in the United States.
The Broward-Palm Beach New Times reported in 2012 that in the early 1990s, United West’s Trento headed a Denver-based outfit called Christian Research Associates (CRA), which peddled ‘young earth creation science’ in the Rocky Mountain states and worked to restrict poor women’s access to abortion.” In 2007, Trento’s Christian Research Associates would take on the name Security Research Associates; three years later Trento would start doing business as United West. Trento’s prior efforts have received financial support through Donors Capital Fund, a right-wing donor-advised fund that is part of the Koch network, and favored by billionaire casino owner and conservative mega-donor Sheldon Adelson–an enthusiastic Islamophobe—and many deep-pocketed right-wing donors. Donor-advised funds allow donors to designate the recipients of their largesse while allowing the original source of the donations to remain anonymous.
In 2008, during the heat of the presidential campaign of Barack Obama—whom the right sought to paint as a radical Islamist for the simple reason that his father was Muslim, Trento’s Security Research Associates received $149,000 from Donors Capital Fund to aid in the distribution of 28 million copies of the DVD, “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.” In that same year, a single donor funneled $17 million through Donors Capital Fund to the murky Clarion Fund, through which the “Obsession” movie was financed.
Trento has established ties to prominent anti-Muslim activist groups, including Frank Gaffney’s group Center for Security Policy, also an SPLC-designated hate group. The United West’s website advertises a 170-page report called “Shariah: The Threat to America,” to which Trento was a contributor. The report was published by Center for Security Policy. Clare Lopez, vice president of research and analysis for Center for Security Policy, is among currently listed staff on The United West’s website. The group has co-hosted webinars and events with members of Gaffney’s organization, the SPLC reports.
The United West states on its website that it is a “Non-Profit 501(c)(3) Tax Exempt Organization.” Right Wing Watch visited the Internal Revenue Service’s website and searched Florida’s Exempt Organization Business Master File Extract (EO BMF) for The United West and did not find the organization listed as of the IRS’ update on December 10, 2018.
However, Trento is registered as one of three directors of a 501(c)(3) organization called the United American Committee, according to the organization’s 990 tax filings, which lists the same address as The United West. Trento’s current project also shares a mailing address with Security Research Associates, a nonprofit in Trento’s name.
Right Wing Watch reached out to Loomer and The United West seeking comment via email for this story but did not receive a response from either.
(This article was updated at 3:07 p.m.)