Controversial Radio Ad Latest Foray in Political Bigotry For ‘Black Jesse Helms’ Vernon Robinson

Republican activist Vernon Robinson (Photo from Robinson's Twitter profile)

A little-known group called Black Americans for the President’s Agenda made a national news splash yesterday when word spread about a radio ad running in Arkansas telling black voters that after the Kavanaugh hearings they should vote for Republicans because “we can’t afford to let white Democrats take us back to bad old days of race verdicts, life sentences and lynchings when a white girl screams rape.”

The Arkansas times reported on Thursday that the group “has bought radio advertising on black-oriented stations in Little Rock to help Republican Rep. French Hill.” In response to online outrage about the ad, Hill put out a statement condemning it “in the strongest terms.” The state GOP also criticized the ad while the state Democratic Party chair denounced it as “overtly racist, dangerous, and immoral.”

Republican activist Vernon Robinson, the man behind the ad, seemed to relish the attention, telling NBC News on Thursday that Democrats were “screaming like stuffed pigs.” Said Robinson, “Anytime the left is upset with my ads, it means they don’t have the time to attack Republican campaign managers, to run Republicans out of restaurants.”

Robinson, a former local official who was once dubbed the black Jesse Helms, has a long track record of bigoted rhetoric and right-wing activism.

He ran for Congress from North Carolina in 2004—when the Washington Times reported that his campaign brochure cited praise from Focus on the Family founder James Dobson and other right-wing leaders—and again in 2006, when his campaign ran a particularly memorable ad. Here’s an excerpt:

Americans are under attack from Islamic extremists from every corner of the world. Homosexuals are mocking holy matrimony, and the lesbians and feminists are attacking everything sacred. Liberal judges have completely re-written the Constitution. You can burn the American flag and kill a million babies a year but you can’t post the Ten Commandments or say ‘God’ in public schools. Seven out of every 10 black children are born out of wedlock and Jackson and Sharpton claim the answer is racial quotas. And the aliens are here, but they didn’t come in a spaceship, they came across our unguarded Mexican border by the millions. I’m Vernon Robinson … I approve of this message, and of traditional American values.

In another radio ad, he said if his opponent had his way, “America would be nothing but one big fiesta for illegal aliens and homosexuals.” When People For the American Way criticized his appeals to bigotry, Robinson falsely claimed that PFAW had criticized him for “Bill Cosby-like statement on race issues” and had declared him “Enemy 1”—neither of which was true. He didn’t win, but his outrageous rhetoric apparently appealed to right-wing donors, making him one of the most successful fundraisers in the country that year, with the vast majority of his funding coming from outside the state.

Robinson threw his hat in the ring again in 2011, making this pitch to readers of the right-wing WorldNetDaily:

While Obama was smoking marijuana and snorting cocaine, I was earning badges to become an Eagle Scout. While Obama was being mentored by Communist Party Member Frank Davis, I was taught to love God and country by my parents. While Obama was consorting with Marxist professors, Black Panthers, trial lawyers, union bosses, hippie peaceniks, anti-Christian atheists, militant homosexual agitators, radical pro-abortion feminists, gun grabbers, amnesty zealots, Chi-Com sympathizers, globalists who worship at the altar of the UN, and environmentalist wackos, I was earning my bachelor’s degree alongside my fellow cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy. …

While Obama was saying Amen to the loony, vile, anti-America, anti-Whitey, anti-Semitic, pro-reparations, black liberation theology spewed by the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, I was worshipping at a church that preaches the Gospel and erecting a Ten Commandments monument on municipal property (to the dismay of the government bureaucrats and high priests of political correctness who insist that God must be ejected from the public square).

In 2013, Robinson was part of a group that called itself the Black American Leadership Alliance and opposed bipartisan efforts to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill. The BALA was essentially a front group for the anti-immigration Federation for American Immigration Reform, which we noted at the time had been “trying for years to drive a wedge between African Americans and Latinos.”

Robinson was also director of the Draft Ben Carson for President Committee. He said in 2014 that if Carson could draw 17 percent of the black vote, “the Roosevelt Democratic coalition is destroyed” and it would be impossible for Democrats to win the presidency.

He tried, and failed, again in 2016, seeking the GOP nomination for North Carolina’s 13th congressional district.

This week, Robinson told NBC that he had bought ads in St. Louis and Kansas City as well as Little Rock. His group’s FEC filings indicate that it has spent thousands of dollars in independent expenditures opposing Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill and supporting her Republican opponent Josh Hawley.

Washington Post commentator Eugene Scott wrote on Friday morning that the ad buy “suggests that black voters are ignorant of history” and “are not aware of the present and have not paid attention to Trump’s presidency and the preceding campaign.” Scott added that “any hope that the right’s black voter outreach’s use of dog whistles and race baiting could go unnoticed just got harder as more eyes are on how conservatives engage black Americans in the Trump political era.”