Georgia senator Kelly Loeffler came under fire after a photo showing her posing next to former Ku Klux Klan member Chester Doles, who was once a part of neo-Nazi National Alliance, resurfaced online.
ALERT: Kelly Loeffler just posed for a photo with Chester Doles, a former KKK leader who runs the white supremacist American Patriots USA.— The Truth Is Out There (@drmom247) December 13, 2020
In 1993, Doles nearly beat a Black man to death.
In 2017, he marched in Charlottesville.
This is who @KLoeffler is a fakkke Kkkristian. pic.twitter.com/W3bYkOL4dn
So you're close to former KKK leader and still white supremacist Chester Doles. pic.twitter.com/2n2k89tE5g— Marcella Gridley (@MarcellaGrid) December 13, 2020
The picture was reportedly taken during a Loeffler campaign event in Dawsonville on Friday. However, the spokesman for senator’s campaign Stephen Lawson said that Loeffler “had no idea” who the man was when she stood for a photo with him.
“If she had she would have kicked him out immediately because we condemn in the most vociferous terms everything that he stands for,” Lawson said in a statement to The Associated Press.
Doles, who in 1993 was sentenced for beating an African-American in Maryland, told AP that he had now “publicly renounced racism on several occasions in the past couple of years”.
According to the man, he also took part in “redemption service” while standing “in front of an all-black congregation and told my story and renounced all racism and asked for God’s forgiveness”.
Just in 2019, Doles launched American Patriots USA group that branded itself as a “constitutionalist” organisation in a bid to forge links with Republican politicians. Many, however, remained doubtful that the group has completely distanced itself from other neo-fascist movements.
The backlash comes less than a month before Kelly Loeffler will take part in the Senate run-off race on 5 January where she is facing a tough competition from Reverend Raphael Warnock.
During the November vote, Warnock got ahead of Loeffler with a seven-digit lead but none of the candidates have managed to secure at least 50 percent of Georgian votes, in effect advancing to run-offs that will decide which party will eventually dominate the US Senate.
Another Georgian battle will play out between Senator David Perdue and his Democrat challengers Jon Ossoff, as the race between the two candidates is promising to be tight.
On Monday, Georgia stated in-person early voting for those willing to cast the ballot for their preferred senator before the January deadline.