Republican Joe Kent, who is running against U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington state in the Aug. 2 primary, has received support from Donald Trump in the past. So it’s no surprise that he’s been connected to other known white nationalists. In addition, his campaign consultant was a member of Proud Boys.
Kent has become a conservative media favorite due to his own unique story. He is a former Green Beret who served 11 combat deployments before retiring from Special Forces to become part of the CIA. His wife, Shannon, was a Navy cryptologist who was killed by a suicide bomber in 2019 while fighting the Islamic State group in Syria. Kent is currently raising their sons alone.
However, his ties to right-wing extremists has grown. According to AP News, campaign finance documents show Kent paid $11,375 for “consulting” over the past four months to Graham Jorgensen. Jorgensen, who was confirmed as a Proud Boy in a law enforcement document, was also charged with cyber stalking his ex-girlfriend back in 2018 (the charges were later dismissed).
Kent is also a close affiliate Joey Gibson, founder of the Christian nationalist group Patriot Prayer. Gibson, who started Patriot Player in 2016, has organized demonstrations across the country that often clashed with left-wing groups. Many of those events were coordinated in conjunction with the Proud Boys.
Gibson frequently praises Kent’s campaign on social media and even gave a speech at one of Kent’s fundraisers last year. At the same event, Kent said that Gibson “defended this community when our community was under assault from antifa.”
Kent has also gotten supports from those associated with the white nationalist “Groyper Army” movement led by Nick Fuentes, who spreads messages of white supremacy. Fuentes participated in the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, as well as the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol. Kent then tweeted he did not “want Fuentes’s endorsement due his focus on race/religion.”
Though Kent has tried to downplay his racism, he saw how far it got Trump and it appears he wants to emulate that kind of success.