Harrisburg’s Patriot News reported that businessman Art Halvorson, who is challenging Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Blair) for his seat in the 9th district, has accepted the endorsement of a founding member for a white supremacist think tank.
Franklin County GOP Chairman Dwight Weidman brought to attention Halvorson’s support from James B. Taylor, a former board member and and vice president of the National Policy Institute (NPI).
In the mission statement on their website, the NPI aims “to elevate the consciousness of whites, ensure our biological and cultural continuity, and protect our civil rights. The institute … will study the consequences of the ongoing influx that non-Western populations pose to our national identity.”Jarring statement aside, civil rights group the Southern Poverty Law Center called the NPI one of the leaders in the world of “academic racism.”
Halvorson’s campaign defended themselves, stating that Taylor is no longer a member of NPI, which was confirmed for PennLive by the organization’s executive director Richard Spencer. The campaign also believed that Weidman was only bringing this up to show support for Shuster when the Franklin County GOP doesn’t endorse during primary elections.
“We want to reiterate that Art Halvorson condemns racism, and will not knowingly associate with any person or organization that believes such opinions are acceptable. It is hypocritical for Mr. Weidman to accuse Art of a “lapse in judgment” when he himself accepted Mr. Taylor’s endorsement and extensive support when he ran for office. Mr. Weidman denied that he was asked to initiate this smear attack by the Shuster campaign, but he has been a strong, vocal supporter of the Shuster Campaign. These smears and lies orchestrated by the Shuster campaign, similar to the previous smears and lies they have made against Art Halvorson, are an attempt to deceive the voters. They have resorted to the tactics of Barack Obama, using the term “racist” when anyone dares challenge or disagree with them. Art is running to take back the Republican Party from the people that believe these kind of tactics are acceptable.”
Weidman, though, said he is only concerned about transparency for voters. “It concerns me because it goes to the judgment of someone like Halvorson,” he said. “I warned him that it doesn’t show good judgment to take an endorsement from someone with such extreme views. If he didn’t know, it would be one thing. But he was warned.”
In a statement to PennLive, Halvorson’s campaign denounced racism and claimed he would never knowingly associate with someone who had such beliefs. “The Shuster campaign is trying to rehash this old story for purely political purposes to discredit a surging Halvorson campaign right before the primary on May 20,” his office said.
“Art Halvorson decided to stand shoulder to shoulder with Jim Taylor despite his past ties to racist organizations. That is unfortunate,” Shuster’s campaign manager Sean Joyce told PoliticsPA. “Halvorson’s decision to double down on this endorsement and defend Jim Taylor is even more disappointing.”
When the Chambersburg Public Opinion interviewed Taylor during his write-in campaign to represent Franklin County in the state Senate in 2012, Taylor noted that he had not been involved with NPI for years. He emphasized that he especially would not be involved at that time because of “what they have on their website now.”
Spencer labeled Taylor’s statement as insincere, saying that while it’s true Taylor is no longer a member, NPI is still the same organization it was back when it was founded in 2005. This was the time period when Taylor was on the board of directors.
“The idea that [NPI] has diverted from its mission is ridiculous,” Spencer said. “If [Taylor] didn’t know what this organization was about, then he is one of the most absurdly naive individuals on the face of this earth.”
Taylor has also been tied to a group similar to NPI. He was the executive director of America’s PAC when it donated $5,000 to the Charles Martel Society, as reported by The Public Opinion. The society was founded in 2001 by William H. Regenery, who is coincidentally also a cofounder of NPI.
Weidman said he believes it would be prudent for Halvorson to admit that accepting Taylor’s support was merely a mistake.
“We need to try to come together more and not split ourselves one way or another,” he said. “I know Art, and as county chairman I want to keep things clean and good in these races. [Halvorson] is not a bad guy, but I do think he has had a serious lapse in judgment.”
UPDATE: Taylor issued his own response.
It has come to my attention that the Harrisburg Patriot-News and other news
organizations have published stories referring to me as a “white supremacist” in an
attempt to damage the candidacy of Art Halvorson, a conservative running against
Congressman Bill Shuster for the 9th
These accusations are false, libelous and an insult to the voters of this district. I am
absolutely not a white supremacist or racist and, to be clear, I utterly reject any and
all forms of racism.
It is disappointing, but not surprising, that the purveyors of this story are Bill
Shuster and his henchman, Dwight Weidman, chairman of the Franklin County
Republican Party. It is disappointing because when I stepped down as chairman
in 2010, I endorsed and worked tirelessly for Weidman to replace me, to the point
that it affected my health. And Weidman greedily accepted my endorsement.
Mr. Weidman has been using his position as the Franklin County GOP chairman
to blatantly give advantage to Mr. Shuster in this race. He has used his official
email to recruit for the Shuster Campaign and spread this salacious attack around
What makes Mr. Weidman’s attacks on me even more hypocritical is that he has
been accused as a racist and white supremacist himself. A 1998 Washington Post
article stated that a web site run by Mr. Weidman was described as pushing “racist
and white supremacist views.”
Mr. Shuster’s involvement is very disappointing. When I first moved to the district
I supported him and even donated $1500 to his campaign in 2006. My admiration
gradually diminished as I observed the congressman’s bullying tactics, his poor
record on fiscal votes and his less than admirable personal behavior.
District Congressional seat.
As our Congressman, Mr. Shuster should condemn such baseless, personal attacks
against fellow Republicans, not feed the fire.
The false accusations derive from my brief membership on the board of the
National Policy Institute and a donation made by America’s PAC to the Charles
Martel Group. The donation was intended to help start the NPI, and though the
NPI studied issues of race while I was associated with them, it was in no way a
racist organization. I left after only six months because of my participation in too
many other organizations which taxed my time and energy. While I believed NPI
was doing good work in 2006, I would not care to be associated with material I
found on their website in recent years. No one on the board and staff of NPI in
2006 is involved with the group today.
Those reporting these lies also fail to mention my more important and long-term
association with the Lincoln Institute. I co-founded and have maintained a 36-year
affiliation with that Institute; a black led conservative organization on whose board
I still sit. In my time with the Institute I have worked with many prominent black
conservative leaders, including Alan Keyes, Clarence Thomas, Walter Williams,
and many others.
I will let the voters decide for themselves what defines me: Six months on the
board of NPI or 36 years supporting African-American conservative leadership.
Shuster and Weidman use the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as their
authority for painting me as a racist. But the SPLC, a radical left group, calls all
manner of organizations hate groups or white supremacists. Anyone that disagrees
with them on any issue, ranging from illegal immigration to Common Core, is
automatically labeled as a racist or a hate group. The SPLC has even labeled
Focus on the Family as a hate group.
For Mr. Weidman, acting as Mr. Shuster’s puppet, to align with this liberal hate
group is desperate, distasteful and disturbing. Politics does indeed make strange
bedfellows, but to ally with this left-wing, pro-Democrat group to attack fellow
Republican Art Halvorson is the worst form of sleazy politics.