Colorado state Sen. Tim Neville (R-Littleton), whose fate in November’s election could determine which party controls the chamber, accepted the maximum-allowable donation last year from Team America Political Action Committee (PAC), designated in 2016 as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
Team America PAC is backed by former Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo, who ran for president in 2008 on the platform of expunging undocumented immigrants from the United States and has suggested bombing Mecca as a way to avert nuclear attack by Muslim terrorists.
The Team America PAC has supported candidates, like Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), whose stances on immigration reflect Tancredo’s. The PAC this year has given campaign funds to three other Colorado Republican candidates.
The PAC donated about $1,000 to Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch, which was also designated by the SPLC as a hate group for bigotry toward Muslims. The SPLC calls Spencer “one of America’s most prolific and vociferous anti-Muslim propagandists.”
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Hate groups “vilify others because of their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity—prejudices that strike at the heart of our democratic values and fracture society along its most fragile fault lines,” according to the SPLC website.
“The SPLC lists Team America PAC as a hate group based on numerous anti-Muslim articles posted on its website, as well as Tom Tancredo’s affiliation with SPLC-designated hate group VDARE,” Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, told Rewire News.
The SPLC calls Tancredo a “nativist ex-congressman with white nationalist ties.”
Last August, Neville joined Tancredo in criticizing the Republican mayor of Colorado Springs for withholding municipal support for a conference organized by VDARE, a white supremacist group that played a role in the violent Unite the Right rally last year in Charlottesville, where activist Heather Heyer was killed by a white supremacist.
Tancredo, who once sat on the board of VDARE and was called an “American hero” by the group’s founder, has denounced the SPLC as a “fraudulent organization,” which exists because “there’s more money to be made attacking conservative groups than the other way around.”
Neville uses similar language to characterize the SPLC, saying it once did “very noble work,” but now uses its “hate map” to raise money.
The gift from Tancredo’s PAC to Neville—$400 in total, the maximum amount allowed under Colorado law— came after Tancredo’s endorsement of the candidate, which is featured on Neville’s campaign website. Neville did not respond to a request for comment about the Team America donation.
Neville’s conservatism goes beyond his opposition to immigration, from his stances against abortion rights and gun control to his outspoken support for President Trump.
Last month, Americans for Prosperity, the Koch Brothers organization known for its no-holds-barred advocacy for tax cuts for the wealthy, posted a Facebook ad in support of Neville, stating, “Senator Neville has fought for Coloradans’ rights by stopping spending increases, fighting excessive regulations, and advocating for educational freedom.”
Neville’s opponent is pro-choice Democrat Tammy Story, who’s been endorsed by progressive organizations and President Obama. Story is best known locally for her activism in opposition to charter schools and privatization measures like “vouchers.” She lost a 2016 state house bid in a Republican-leaning district.
Democrats could head into 2019 with control of the Colorado house, state senate, and governorship if they’re able to flip Neville’s seat in November.
Despite massive support from the far right, Neville maintains that he can win in his moderate suburban district, Colorado Senate District 16, which voted for former Hillary Clinton over Trump by nine points in 2016.
“I’m already at work to shift the power from government to where it rightfully belongs: back in your households and boardrooms,” states Neville’s campaign website, which touts a previous endorsement from Arizona’s extremist anti-immigrant former Sheriff Joe Arpaio. “We’re already working to strengthen and protect taxpayers, reduce unnecessary business regulations, protect life and individual freedom of conscience, and restore our Constitutional rights.”