A Republican county committee in Idaho says it’s just trying to help one of its constituents get married. She happens to be an alt-right YouTuber who promotes “white genocide” theories, and she’s engaged to an Austrian white nationalist leader with alleged ties to the New Zealand mosque shooter.
The Kootenai County Republican Committee, representing the GOP in Idaho’s third-most-populous county, unanimously passed a resolution Monday to pressure the federal government to reinstate travel abilities for the Austrian fiancé, Martin Sellner, who leads the right-wing “Identitarian Movement Austria.” Sellner is engaged to Brittany Pettibone, an alt-right YouTuber who lives in the solidly-red county, and the two hope to wed in Idaho this summer.
Sellner says he lost his travel privileges after he was investigated by Austrian authorities following the two mosque shootings in Christchurch last month.
"There was a motion made noting Martin Sellner had broken no law in Austria or the U.S. and was not under any known investigation. Therefore, the motion encouraged the US government to “…reinstate Martin Sellner's travel privileges…,” chairman of the committee Brent Regan wrote in a emailed statement to VICE News. "To be absolutely clear, the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee condemns all forms of racism and bigotry."
Authorities raided Sellner’s home after prosecutors noticed that his far-right group had received a donation of $1,800 in 2018 from the alleged mosque shooter. A spokesperson for Austria’s prosecutors said Sellner was already under investigation for possible financial offenses when they discovered the donation.
In the resolution, according to The Spokesman-Review, the Kootenai committee members argued that U.S. authorities had “interfered with the wedding plans of these two young people” by revoking Sellner’s travel privileges “for political reasons.” Kootenai County has been solidly red since 2000 and voted 67 percent for Donald Trump in 2016.
The shooter, before killing 50 people in the mosque attacks, also published a lengthy manifesto online before the attack which revealed his deep familiarity with the ideas promoted by Sellner and other so-called “Identitarians,” which is essentially a sanitized term for “white nationalists.” Sellner told The Associated Press that he’d exchanged emails with the shooter after the donation, and had pointed toward him toward his English-language YouTube channel. Pettibone, for her part, has over 121,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel, where she promotes far-right conspiracy theories like “white genocide.”
“Any connection between the Christchurch attacker and members of the Identitarians in Austria must be comprehensively and ruthlessly investigated,” wrote Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on Twitter at the time.
Sellner says that the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, which determines some travelers’ eligibility to enter the U.S. for a brief period without a visa, labeled him inadmissible during this time.
Kootenai County Republicans reportedly posted a video to YouTube last week showing Pettibone asking committee members to help her fiancé. The Spokesman-Review said that the committee deleted the video after they reached out for comment.
Sellner, Pettibone, and far-right activist Lauren Southern — all of whom promote Islamophobia — were barred from entering the United Kingdom in March 2018, after Home Office officials determined them “not conducive to the public good.”
Kootenai County GOP chairman Brent Regan told the Spokesman-Review that their decision to help Pettibone stemmed from the fact that she’s a constituent and said it had nothing to do with politics.
In a 2017 column published in the Idaho regional paper the Coeur d’Alene Press, former Kootenai County Republican committee member Jim Pierce wrote that the group had been “‘taken over’ purposefully by a group of non-traditional Republicans, mostly from the far-right of the spectrum.”
Both the Kootenai County Republican Committee and the Department of Homeland Security did not immediately return VICE News’ request for comment.
Cover: Martin Sellner, leader of the right-wing populist Identitarian movement of Austria is seen giving an interview in Berlin, Germany, 05 November 2016. (Photo: Paul Zinken/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)