Lifelong Conservative Targets Dan Bishop Over Social Media Investment
Evan McMullin is a former CIA officer who was chief policy director for former U.S. House speakers John Boehner and Paul Ryan.
"I only supported Republicans," McMullin said. "I only donated to Republicans. I only worked on behalf of Republicans. I only voted for Republicans."
But then came the rise of Donald Trump, whom McMullin couldn’t support. So, he ran as an independent candidate in 2016, getting 21% of the vote in his home state of Utah.
Now McMullin leads a group called Stand Up Republic. It’s opposed only a few candidates that he deems dangerous to the country.
"We have a high threshold for getting involved in a candidate race," he said. "We only do so when we feel the health of the Republic is at stake."
In his view, those threats are former Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore and current Congressmen Steve King of Iowa and Devin Nunes of California.
And now Charlotte Republican Dan Bishop.
"We had a candidate here that was investing and supporting in an ideology of evil that threatens our freedom," he said.
Stand Up Republic has launched a 30-second ad blasting Bishop for his $500 investment two years ago in the social media website Gab.
The ad asks if people remember when white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.
The ad says, "When they were banned from social media, Dan Bishop took their side. In fact, he invested in a social media website because it welcomed the white supremacists… Dan Bishop says it’s about free speech, but if he supports extremists, we can’t support Dan Bishop."
Bishop’s campaign called the ad “libelous, defamatory slander” and threatened to sue any media outlet that publishes or broadcasts it.
He declined to be interviewed for this story, but his campaign did send a point-by-point rejection of the ad.
The campaign says it’s not true that he supports extremists and took their side. For example, in a tweet after Charlottesville, Bishop condemned the “racist alt-right” – as well as Black Lives Matter.
And he rejects that he invested in Gab because it welcomed white supremacists.
Here’s how the controversy began:
In August 2017, about a week after Charlottesville, Bishop posted on Twitter that he was “about done with SF thought police tech giants, and so … I just invested in Gab.”
He linked to the company’s prospectus of “free speech, individual liberty, and the free flow of information online.”
Around the same time, he posted on Facebook a Washington Post article with the headline “Silicon Valley escalates its war on white supremacists despite free speech concerns.”
"That Washington Post article talked about social media sites kicking out these neo Nazis in the wake of this murder off their platform, which they're entitled to do," McMullin said. "And that upset him."
Bishop’s campaign says the point of his post was to focus on the article’s other theme — that the tech companies were “becoming the arbiters of free speech in America.”
As an example, the campaign noted how the article referenced that a black woman had posted on Facebook about a white man insulting her family with profane, racist epithets – and how Facebook took down her post. Facebook said the post violated its standards by repeating the racist language.
McMullin says he stands by his ad.