A Tea Party Leader Was Formerly Fascist “Director of Propaganda”

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March 18, 2013; Source: Texas Tribune

We continue to cover the remnants of the Tea Party around the nation as a social movement of sorts. Texas Tea Partier Debra Medina recently bemoaned the problem of grassroots efforts like hers, explaining that it’s “so hard to know who you’re working with sometimes…Even with the best intentions — and I can speak from my own experience — you can be judged by those who work around you and are supportive of you.”

Here’s why she said what she said: the president of the Greater Fort Bend County Tea Party, James Ives, had a different organizational identity a decade ago. Emily Ramshaw of the Texas Tribune describes Ives as “a prominent Tea Party activist who has hosted statewide rallies and political debates and has been a regular contributor on conservative radio,” but she also notes that Ives was previously the fourth-ranking official in the now-defunct American Fascist Party (AFP). Ives told the Tribune that it was all sort of harmless fun, simply a reflection of his intellectual curiosity as a political science buff and a frustrated novelist. However, he did sign on to be the AFP’s “director of propaganda,” though it is unclear what that job entailed.

Republican State Sen. Dan Patrick, owner of a Houston radio station that has regularly aired commentaries from Ives, told the Trib that if the reports of the radio personality’s connections to the American Fascist Party are accurate, his radio days with the station are over. In a somewhat less critical statement, State Rep. Rick Miller, who spoke at the Greater Fort Bend County Tea Party just last week, said that Ives’s relationship with the AFP “sound[ed] like something worth following up on.” Uh…you think? Note to Ives and others: in a democracy, if you’re on record as a fascist longing for the likes of Mussolini, Trujillo, and Lukashenko, you can expect to find your U.S. political career stunted. —Rick Cohen