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Leaked chats show neo-Nazis, extremists tried to sway 2018 Arizona elections

By: - May 5, 2020 11:27 am

Royalty free photo via Pxfuel

Self proclaimed Neo-Nazis and other extremists worked together to try and sway the outcome of Arizona’s 2018 midterm election by a variety of means including promoting candidates they liked or ones they felt were doomed to fail, according to leaked chat logs. 

The online chat logs analyzed by the Arizona Mirror are only a small fraction of nearly 10 million internal messages from over 100 servers on the Discord chat app run by Neo-Nazis and QAnon conspiracy theorists that were made available to a group of journalists at Distributed Denial of Secrets.

The group turned the chat logs into a searchable database they’ve dubbed Project Whispers

One chat server named “Red Storm” was part of an operation to influence the 2018 election. 

“This Discord is for the purpose of discussion, organization, and influential action for the 2018 Midterms, in the interests of undermining the Left and elevating the Right,” an introductory post says. 

The server’s administrators were up front about the racist views that users would find there.

“This is a big tent right wing Discord,” the introductory post goes on to say. “That means ethnonationalists (sic) will have to get along with civic nationalists, that means libertarians have to get along with national socialists, that means mainstream conservatives will have to be ok with race discussions and questioning Israel.”

The server was split into separate channels for the states that were having midterm elections as well as different topics. Such as “how to make sock accounts,” which gave advice on creating fake social media profiles, and a separate “operation” in which users tried to find controversial things liberals said in order to scare people into voting Republican. 

In the Arizona channel, users discussed ways in which they could sway voters, including possibly infiltrating the Democratic Party. 

“Maybe be double agents for the Dems here?” one user poised

Others spoke about making phone calls to as many people as they could, with a particular focus on helping U.S. Rep. Debbie Lesko hold off a challenge from Democratic nominee Hiral Tipirneni. 

“They might vote Lesko because the nice young man on the phone said she was a great candidate,” one user said

“Elders love talking to youth, AKA most of this discord,” another user replied

That same user also expressed interest in painting the Democratic challengers as extremists, playing off an earlier discussion the group had of a belief that abolishing affirmative action is “crucial to white population growth.” 

Arizonans on the Red Storm server also shared their thoughts on the candidates and ballot measures on the ballot in 2018, and administrators made endorsements.

Users seemed to agree that former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio could not win an election against Kyrsten Sinema and broadly felt that Martha McSally would defeat Sinema and support Trump, but the official endorsement went to Kelli Ward

The group even advised users which ballot propositions to vote for. 

It is unclear what impact, if any, these extremists had on any voters in 2018. 

One user, who said he wished he could paint swastikas on the houses of “leftists” said in another comment that he was not even of voting age. 

The Mirror has identified other Arizona connections in the chat logs as well, such as a 20-year-old man who claimed to be a member of the military and is a fascist who plans to “persue (sic) a career in politics or science” when he finishes his military service.

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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joined the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.