Andrew Yang’s 2020 campaign for president has purged a racist, far-right podcaster from its volunteer staff Tuesday after an inquiry from Right Wing Watch.
Shawn McCaffrey is a YouTube podcaster little known outside of far-right online circles. He has appeared in photos of flash demonstrations by white nationalist organization Identity Evropa, and is identified on Richard Spencer’s “Alt-Right.com” website as “an Identity Evropa activist.” He claims to no longer be affiliated with the organization but he still appears to have an amicable relationship with Patrick Casey, the president of Identity Evropa (which is now calling itself American Identity Movement).
McCaffrey once hosted neo-Nazi blogger Andrew Anglin on a podcast, whom he seemed to regard with positive sentiment.
On April 14, during an episode of a podcast he co-hosts, McCaffrey said that he had plugged into the Yang 2020 campaign. “I got contacted by the organizers for Yang group, so Southeast Michigan is all mine. I have a few people, one people’s (sic) a videographer, another person’s dad owns a concert hall, so I’m going to be setting up a rally,” he told viewers.
A staffer with Andrew Yang’s 2020 campaign told Right Wing Watch that McCaffrey “has not had an official relationship with the campaign beyond being one of thousands of volunteers who has signed up. He has not been involved in any formal capacity.” They also denied any campaign involvement with the event McCaffery claimed to be planning.
That staffer said that the campaign was unaware of McCaffrey’s track record in the white nationalist movement prior to an inquiry from Right Wing Watch, and that the campaign had subsequently ejected McCaffery from its ranks of volunteers. They said McCaffery’s beliefs and behaviors are counter to Yang’s “message of humanity first” and contradictory to the campaign’s code of conduct for volunteers.
“I unequivocally denounce and disavow all forms of hatred, bigotry and racism. Full stop. Whether it be presented as anti-Semitism, white supremacy, white nationalism, the alt-right, neo-Nazism, fascism, or anything else, it has no place in this country,” Yang wrote in a statement shared on Twitter last month.
McCaffrey was perhaps most visible when he appeared shirtless with milk-guzzling racists at the “He Will Not Divide Us” art installation in Queens, New York, in February 2017. Among the ragtag lactose drinkers was another man showing off his Sonnenrad chest tattoo.
McCaffrey has also written posts praising “involuntarily celibate” mass killers. On November 4, 2018, he wrote on Twitter: “Elliot was a warning[,] Minassian was a warning[,] No more warnings.” The post references Elliot Rodger, who killed six people in Isla Vista, California, after writing a manifesto expressing his disdain for women and his sexual frustration. McCaffrey also refers to Alek Minassian, who is awaiting trial for ten counts of first-degree murder after he allegedly drove a van down a sidewalk in north Toronto. Police say Minassian praised Rodger on Facebook before launching his attack.
The Yang campaign has struggled to expand its reach nationwide while fending off the waves of alt-right supporters who support—with varying degrees of authenticity—Yang’s candidacy and advocacy for Universal Basic Income. Yang’s campaign, like other grassroots movements, relies on building a volunteer network across the country–a need McCaffrey apparently sought to leverage for his own purposes.