California Rep. Steve Knight posted a television ad to his campaign website featuring a veteran who lavished praise on the congressman for helping him get a lung transplant — but that veteran also appears to be a seething racist who advocates for violence against journalists.
> It turns out that veteran, David Brayton of Santa Clarita, has posted dozens of racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim comments on Facebook.
> Brayton, 64, has also promoted violence against journalists he sees as hostile to President Trump and called on citizen militias to turn their weapons on left-wing protesters.
> Brayton’s Facebook pages illustrate how Trump’s incendiary rhetoric has resonated with his most radical followers. Trump, who is often praised by Brayton, has disparaged Muslims, Mexicans and blacks, equivocated when denouncing white supremacists, and encouraged violence against protesters and reporters.
Knight’s campaign strategist, Matt Rexroad, told The Times there was no reason to check Brayton’s social media accounts before putting him in an ad:
> Knight had no plans to take down the ad, Rexroad said. “I think the timing of this is ridiculous.”
> In the commercial, Brayton wears a red shirt with the word “infidel” imprinted in the American flag, an apparent jab at Muslims.
The Times highlighted numerous Facebook posts Brayton has made since Trump was elected:
> In a Brayton Facebook post in May, an illustration shows two white men slipping a noose around former President Obama’s head. “You will hang by the neck until dead,” the caption says. “Take your smug ass to hell.”
> One of Brayton’s angriest Facebook postings came a few weeks after the August 2017 march of neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va. Brayton wrote that “antifa” protesters against fascism were enemies of America who had given up their right to legal and constitutional protections.
> “May your bodies stack up and you rest in the hell you have chose for you and yours in declaring war on Americans,” he wrote. Echoing Trump’s attacks on news organizations, he added, “You ARE the enemy of America. So is your mouthpiece the corrupt fake media.”
> In May 2017, Brayton wrote, “Kill them all” above a photo of a demonstration of Muslim extremists. He also posted a remark that he attributed to a Union Army leader: “If I had my choice I would kill every reporter in the world, but I am sure we would be getting reports from Hell before breakfast.”
> In another post, he quotes Adolf Hitler saying, “If my party had a voice in this country we might find less violent ways of expressing ourselves.” Brayton asked, “Sound familiar?”
> In September 2017, Brayton wrote, “Perhaps all Jews on television should wear the ‘sign’ in this last photo … just to make sure the audience knows … wink wink.” The photo showed a yellow Star of David inscribed with the German word “Jude” — the badge that Nazis forced Jews to wear during World War II.
Brayton defended his posts in an interview with The Times, denying that any of them were racist or anti-Semitic.
When asked about one in which he wrote, “I think the KKK hates blacks cuz they’re jealous of them since blacks have killed more blacks than the KKK could in 100 years,” he responded: “That’s absolutely true.”
In the ad for Knight's campaign, Brayton says, “If it wasn’t for Steve Knight’s assistance in this thing, I guarantee you I’d be dead."
And in sharing the ad on his campaign's Facebook page on September 18, Knight wrote: “I’m proud to have earned David Brayton’s vote, but this is who we fight for. Every. Single. Day.”
> On Thursday morning, a Facebook spokesman said the company was permanently taking down Brayton’s pages for violations of its community standards.
> Brayton has used three Facebook accounts to dodge the company’s suspensions, mocking the company along the way for its ineffective policing of content.