On a livestream one night in early November, a man donated $10 to Nick Fuentes, the white nationalist who would in a few short weeks dine with Donald Trump.
This particular $10 donation entitled the donor, who identified himself as Alex Roncelli, to post a message in the superchat so that his message would play during Fuentes’ show. “nick i wanted to say thanks… i ran for GOP chair and won. in the reddest of red counties in michigan i won. i promise progress. thanks for your inspiration, thanks for everything.”
Fuentes was utterly dumbfounded. “Dude!” Fuentes said after the message played. He looked up at the ceiling and paused. “I’m just not going to make a big deal of that.”
Why a local GOP official would publicly out himself as a follower of Fuentes was apparently beyond Fuentes’ grasp. Fuentes leads the America First youth movement, a white nationalist, Christian nationalist movement of mostly young white men who refer to themselves as “groypers.” Fuentes has promised to build an army of groypers to infiltrate Capitol Hill and the Trump administration and encouraged his followers to embed themselves within their local GOP infrastructure. Fuentes’ promotion of this strategy, like choosing a rhetorical theme from Trump’s campaign for his movement’s name, reflects his stated goal of infiltrating the broader conservative movement and dragging it further to the far right.
Right Wing Watch was able to identify a 28-year-old Alex Roncelli living in deep red St. Clair County, Michigan, and active in local GOP politics.
In 2018, Roncelli won an election to represent Bruce Township’s 4th precinct as a delegate for the GOP county convention. In 2020, he ran to become Macomb County clerk and lost. According to the Macomb Daily, he also aided the Macomb County Republican youth outreach program in the 2016 and 2018 elections. And just last year, he ran to represent Kimball Township in St. Clair County as a delegate to the county convention and won; it is scheduled to meet in Kimball, Michigan, today, Jan. 26.
Right Wing Watch reached out to Roncelli by email and phone. He did not respond to questions about this donation to Fuentes, the jurisdiction of the GOP chair position he claimed to have won, or allegations that he had stalked and harassed a woman.
Right Wing Watch also reached out to the local St. Clair County Republican Party and county clerk’s office. Both the former county chair and clerk’s office clarified that Roncelli was just a precinct delegate and not the county chair. A message to the current St. Clair County GOP chair went unanswered.
A follower of white nationalist Nick Fuentes named Alex Roncelli sent Fuentes a superchat last night so that he could brag about becoming a GOP chairman in Michigan and Fuentes was utterly dumbfounded that Roncelli would be foolish enough to publicly out himself as a groyper. pic.twitter.com/IhaMf8fneh
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) November 4, 2022
Online, Roncelli appears to flaunt his America First connection. A Twitter user claiming to be Alex Roncelli features a photo of Roncelli, a bio that reads, “America First,” and locates himself in Michigan. The account, which was created in 2015, has tweeted about Nick Fuentes multiple times in the past year, including this past November with an image of Trump, Ye, and Fuentes dining together shortly after news broke of their dinner. After Right Wing Watch tweeted a clip of Fuentes receiving the $10 donation in November and Twitter users began tagging Roncelli’s account in the replies, the account handle appears to have been changed from @asroncelli to @JebrahBush. The account follows a number of accounts of figures in the America First movement; his own followers include self-proclaimed groypers. Meanwhile, a Facebook page belonging to Alex Roncelli states that he’s a precinct delegate and features an image of Pepe the Frog—the unofficial mascot of the America First groypers.
Precinct delegates, who are elected in the August primary election and serve two-year terms, act as the worker bees of the party infrastructure. In 2021, Donald Trump’s former White House adviser Steve Bannon popularized the “precinct strategy,” explaining on his “War Room” podcast, “We’re going to take this back village by village … precinct by precinct.” Today, a site called Michigan Precinct First launched by Arizona Tea Party activist Daniel Schultz—whom Bannon has given an audience—urges “America First” Republicans to become precinct delegates. Precinct delegates, like Roncelli, the site says, “have the power to elect party leadership, nominate major state office candidates, and increase voter turnout.”
“It is ultra-important that America First Precinct Delegates attend, participate in and vote at conventions…this is our opportunity to replace ‘do-nothing’ incumbents with America First patriots!” the site states.
It appears this plan is also being utilized by those in Nick Fuentes’ America First movement. Roncelli was busy at the latest St. Clair County Convention held last month—and it appears there’s at least a few other groypers who have found their way into the St. Clair County Republican Party. The county GOP Facebook page includes photos of two other attendees wearing Fuentes’ America First gear.
Fuentes’ America First movement stepped into the limelight with its participation in the so-called “Stop the Steal” campaign—which spread disinformation about the 2020 election in an effort to keep former President Donald Trump in the White House—and at least five men associated with America First stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. At “Stop the Steal” rallies, Fuentes called “for Groypers to embed themselves in local GOP infrastructure and run candidates in state and federal primary elections in 2022,” according to Ben Lorber at Political Research Associates. It was time to “destroy the GOP” and “replace it from the inside with people who are America First,” Fuentes said.
Roncelli also participated in the so-called “Stop the Steal” campaign. Ahead of Jan. 6, Roncelli traveled to Washington, D.C., and provided a video to Detroit Free Press of him and his companions on the bus ride chanting “Stop the steal!” On Jan. 6, Roncelli and his friends were among the Trump fanatics breaching the U.S. Capitol grounds, though he has said he did not go inside the Capitol. In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, he described the day as a “Revolution” and claimed that the violence was a set-up—a claim many on the far-right have made to try to shift blame toward “antifa,” the FBI, or anyone other than Trump supporters.
In trying to track down Roncelli, Right Wing Watch discovered a stalking allegation and other misogynist and racist behavior.
During his campaign for county clerk, a woman claimed that Roncelli had stalked her. Right Wing Watch spoke to the woman, 24-year-old Sarah Menig, who said Roncelli had also threatened to send revenge porn to her family members and boyfriend and called her racist names. She provided screenshots, with Roncelli’s phone number visible, to Right Wing Watch. [Read Sarah’s story here.]
This type of behavior is a regular feature of the America First movement, whose followers are known for their racism and frequently use the N-word in online chats, just as Roncelli did in his texts to Menig. And while Nick Fuentes might be best known for his racist and antisemitic white nationalism, he has also made misogyny a cornerstone of the America First movement, welcoming to the movement incels, men accused of sexual assault, and men who have promoted rape.
The election of a groyper to become a local GOP official reveals the larger goal of the far-right: to infiltrate the Republican Party at the local level—even in worker-bee positions—to ultimately put themselves in positions of power and move the party further to the extreme right.