Republicans in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania have elected Steve Smith, a lifelong white supremacist with close ties to neo-Nazi groups and groups, to the county’s GOP Committee.
Smith, 41, who had previously been the director of the Keystone State Skinheads, won the position through a write-in campaign after running unopposed.
The Southern Poverty Law Center also noted that Smith was a member of the white supremacist group Aryan Nations.
In 2003, Smith and two other skinheads were arrested for shouting slurs and throwing a brick at a black man from Scranton, PA. He pleaded guilty to making terrorist threats and perpetrating ethnic intimidation. He received a 60-day sentence.
In 2010, Smith attended a school board in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and objected to a decision to hire more minority teachers, saying that the proposal was anti-white.
"Diversity is not a strength," Smith said.
He also had a letter to the editor published in the local newspaper last November in which he defended the racial profiling of blacks. "Whites need to stop walking on eggshells when it comes to the issue of race and crime," he wrote. "We need to stand up and speak out against what is happening to our once-safe communities."
Terry Casey, head of the Luzerne County GOP, said that he was "unaware of Smith's background" and is unsure how the party will handle the situation.
“We don’t want a skinhead, white supremacist in a position of power in our party,” Casey said. However, he added that those views must be tempered with the party rules and regulations.
“The knee-jerk reaction should be that we should throw him out,” Casey said. “The minute you start parsing off who can hold a seat it becomes a slippery slope.”