State Politics

White supremacist group sends recorded phone message to Idaho residents

An out-of-state group blanketed the state with a recorded phone message Saturday espousing its defiantly racist, whites-only agenda.

The American Freedom Party’s 48-second call ends with an invitation to support the party’s 2016 presidential candidate, visit the party’s website or call them. A lot of Idahoans did call, but mostly to complain, the party’s chairman said Monday.

“Some people don’t like it, well that’s too bad,” said chairman William Johnson, a corporate lawyer in Los Angeles. “We don’t like the direction this country’s taken. They can sit through a 45-second harangue by our party telling them why the white race is dying out.”

The “robocall” says that Idaho is “in the national news” over Muslim refugee resettlement and Hispanic immigration, and for Boise Mayor Dave Bieter’s “laying out the welcome mat” for immigrants — a reference to a July 25 column the mayor wrote that appeared in the Idaho Statesman. Coinciding with Jaialdi, last week’s festival of Basque culture and heritage, Bieter’s column praised ethnic diversity and the contributions of immigrants.

The calls’ female announcer also decried the “thousands of Muslim refugees headed to Idaho.” The reference is to resettlement programs in Boise and Twin Falls that help bring refugees from overseas, but not in the numbers cited by opponents.

“Wake up Idaho. Diversity equals white genocide,” the announcer says before soliciting support for presidential candidate Bob Whittaker, whose campaign paid for the call.

Formerly known as American Third Position, the American Freedom Party was organized in 2009. It says it seeks to represent the interests of “European-Americans.” The party ran candidates for governor of West Virginia in 2011 and for president in 2012.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate and extremist groups, says the party was founded by “racist Southern California skinheads” who want to deport immigrants and “return the United States to white rule.”

Johnson said Bieter’s comments were “ a very large factor in our blanketing Idaho, and we will continue to blanket Idaho.” He called diversity “a pernicious concept” and said Bieter “should be removed from office.”

Noting that the just-concluded Jaialdi festival was “a celebration of cultural diversity,” a Bieter spokesman reiterated the mayor’s message of inclusion.

“I don’t think that anyone can argue that our city would be completely different without the influence of the immigrants that came here two, three, four and five generations ago,” said spokesman Mike Journee. “The mayor believes that the immigrants, the refugees and all those folks that are coming here today are part of who we’ll be three, four and five generations into the future.”

Johnson said calls were made to “hundreds of thousands” of residential phone numbers in Idaho. That includes numbers on the national “Do-Not-Call” registry, because political parties are exempt from the registry’s proscriptions against marketing calls. He said the group received “a huge amount of reaction” that was “much more negative than positive.”

“We got hundreds and hundreds of responses,” he said. “I think most of them were more irate at the robocall issue as opposed to the content. If it was a majority positive reaction, then the white race is saved.”