- A State Department employee led a white-nationalist group in Washington, DC, according to a Southern Poverty Law Center report.
- The department confirmed to INSIDER that the man is an employee but would not say whether the allegations affected his status.
- “This individual is employed by the Department of State as a foreign affairs officer assigned to the Bureau of Energy Resources in Washington, DC,” a State Department spokesperson told INSIDER.
- The official was placed on leave as of Thursday, according to a Politico report.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
A current State Department official served as the leader of a white-nationalist organization in Washington, DC, according to a report from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) released on Wednesday.
The official, identified as Matthew Gebert, “hosted white nationalists at his home and published white nationalist propaganda online,” the report said.
A State Department spokesperson on Wednesday told INSIDER that Gebert is a foreign-affairs officer assigned to the Bureau of Energy Resources in Washington, DC.
When asked whether the allegations in the SPLC report would affect Gebert’s employment status, the department spokesperson told INSIDER, “The Department of State cannot comment on personnel issues but is committed to providing an inclusive workplace.”
Gebert was placed on leave as of Thursday, according to a Politico report.
Gebert joined the department in 2013, according to the SPLC report, during the Obama administration. Based on his position as a foreign-affairs officer, he’s a civil servant and not a political appointee.
According to the SPLC report, Gebert operated online under the pseudonym “Coach Finstock.”
“Through that alias, he expressed a desire to build a country for whites only,” the report said.
In a white-nationalist podcast in May 2018, which is cited in the SPLC report, Coach Finstock said, “[Whites] need a country of our own with nukes, and we will retake this thing lickety-split … That’s all that we need. We need a country founded for white people with a nuclear deterrent. And you watch how the world trembles.”
The report said that under his pseudonym, Gebert helped lead a chapter of an organization led by one of the men who coordinated the deadly white-nationalist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017.
The chapter, referred to in the report as “DC Helicopter Pilots,” is part of the white supremacist Michael “Enoch” Peinovich’s organization, The Right Stuff network.
Gebert, in a neo-Nazi podcast, talked about personally attending the Charlottesville march, where he wore a hat and sunglasses to avoid being identified, the SPLC report said. According to the SPLC report, Gebert in a podcast “expressed no apparent regret about what transpired” at the rally, where a counterprotester named Heather Heyer was killed after a neo-Nazi plowed a car into her and other people.
The SPLC report comes amid renewed scrutiny over white nationalism. Following the El Paso, Texas, shooting, in which a gunman who espoused white-nationalist sentiment killed at least 22 people, critics have said the White House’s rhetoric and policies influenced the rise of hate crimes.
The FBI, which received criticism for its handling of domestic-terrorism concerns after the El Paso shooting, reported that since October, the majority of roughly 100 domestic-terrorism-related arrests involving a racial motive were “motivated by some version of what you might call ‘white supremacist violence.'”
“We take domestic terrorism or hate crime, regardless of ideology, extremely seriously,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said at a congressional hearing in July. “We are aggressively pursuing it, using both counterterrorism resources and criminal investigative resources, and partnering closely with our state and local partners.”
The FBI Agents Association on Tuesday urged Congress to declare domestic terrorism a federal crime. “Acts of violence intended to intimidate civilian populations or to influence or affect government policy should be prosecuted as domestic terrorism regardless of the ideology behind them,” the group said.
President Donald Trump on Monday condemned white supremacy and said the El Paso shooter was “consumed by racist hate.”
Two days later, Trump told reporters he was concerned about “any group of hate … whether it’s white supremacy” or “any other kind of supremacy.”