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Update 8/8 2:16 p.m. ET: The U.S. State Department has suspended State Department employee Matthew Q. Gebert, according to Politico.
A U.S. State Department official was moonlighting as a white nationalist leader in Washington, D.C. As part of that role, he hosted prominent racists and Holocaust deniers at his home in Virginia, attended the violent Charlottesville rally, and spread Nazi propaganda online, according to a new report by Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch.
Matthew Q. Gebert joined the State Department in 2013 and currently works as a foreign affairs officer in the department’s Bureau of Energy Resources, a State Department spokesperson confirmed to VICE News. In that position, Gebert is considered a civil servant rather than a political appointee.
Hatewatch found that Gebert had been operating in his role as a white nationalist under the pseudonym “Coach Finstock” and helped lead the D.C. Helicopter Pilots, the organizing chapter of Mike Peinovich’s white nationalist organization "The Right Stuff." Peinovich, also known as Mike Enoch, is best known for his role organizing the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which left one dead, and his blog and podcast, which he uses to peddle anti-Semitism and racist pseudo-science.
Gebert reportedly discussed attending the Charlottesville rally himself during an appearance on "Fatherland," a neo-Nazi podcast, according to Hatewatch. He said he disguised himself wearing a hat and sunglasses and boasted about returning in “one piece.” Twitter accounts that Hatewatch linked to Gebert shared anti-Semitic memes about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as well as swastikas and other Nazi imagery.
Later on Wednesday, leftist media collective Union Riot revealed that Gebert was a member of two far-right Discord servers: “Vibrant Diversity,” which has been described as the most elite discord server in the alt-right, and “Charlottesville 2.0,” which was used to organize Unite the Right. Prominent members of Vibrant Diversity include neo-Nazi fugitive Andrew Anglin, Peinovich, and former Identity Evropa leader Elliot Kline (also known as Eli Moseley).
In that server, Gebert posted 22 times, including a picture of a swastika-shaped cookie, a pro-diversity sign covered in bullet holes, and a meme of Hitler and Mussolini, according to the chats. He posted only twice in Charlottesville 2.0, including one message where he said he was planning to attend.
Gebert and his wife hosted Peinovich and other white nationalists numerous times at their home in Leesburg, Virginia, according to the report. Hatewatch estimated that Gebert’s official involvement in white nationalism started around 2015. His most recent involvement in white nationalism was this past spring.
Gebert’s alleged participation in white nationalist activities could be a violation of the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in outside political activity while on duty. Penalties for violating the Hatch Act range from removal or suspension from federal service, to official reprimand, to a fine of up to $1,000.
Hatewatch’s report also isn’t the first time that Gebert’s name has come up in relation to the far right. Last July, a report by Sludge, which tracks money in politics, found that Gebert had donated to Paul Nehlen, a Wisconsin neo-Nazi who unsuccessfully ran for Congress last year. Gebert made the donation in January, after Breitbart had condemned Nehlen’s racist and anti-Semitic statements.
A spokesperson for the State Department said they were unable to comment on personnel issues but that they are committed to an inclusive workplace.
Editor's note 8/7 5:59 p.m.: This story was updated with information released by leftist media collective Unicorn Riot after publication.
Cover image: Cover image: In this Monday, Aug. 6, 2018 photo, a No Trespassing sign is displayed in front of a statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Va., at the park that was the focus of the Unite the Right rally. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)