The Republican Governor of Nebraska has distanced himself from a top election campaign staffer over a string of racist and homophobic messages.
Governor Pete Ricketts condemned the messages believed to have been sent by Bennett Bressman, who was the statewide field director for his 2018 re-election campaign.
Bressman, 22, admitted sending messages the racist and homophobic messages on the Discord chat channel of self-proclaimed “white nationalist” YouTuber Nicholas Fuentes, after he was identified by Anti-Fascist Action Nebraska.
‘Gays are scum of the earth’, Republican staffer wrote
An archive of leaked messages from the channel featured contributions from “bress222,” who said: “frag grenades in fag parades all summer 2018.”
The Discord user also heavily used the N-word and the homophobic slur “faggot,” adding that “gays are scum of the earth.”
Another message reads: “when i was a young punk my friend and i threw eggs at a LGBT rally and ran away. now i would do that unironically.”
Further leaked messages from the user refer to Jewish people with triple parentheses, a common neo-Nazi anti-Semitic signifier, while another states: “I have more compassion for small dogs than illegals.”
The total 3,420 leaked messages date from January to October 2018, ahead of Ricketts’ successful re-election in November 2018.
Republican staffer claims violent messages were just ‘tough talk’
Speaking to the Lincoln Journal-Star on Monday (March 11), Bressman admitted the account was his, and attempted to distance himself from the messages sent just months beforehand.
The 22-year-old former Republican staffer told the newspaper: “Yes, that was my profile. I’m not denying it. I understand how they look really bad and are really bad on their face. I regret what I said…. they aren’t indicative of who I am as a person.”
Bressman said his violent threats towards LGBT+ events and Black Lives Matter protests were only “tough talk.”
The Republican staffer was identified via messages bragging about being a “field director for governor on a fat salary” on the channel, also sharing shirtless selfies that he had posted to his public social media pages.
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The user also posted screenshots of text messages from his “boss” on the campaign encouraging him to delete tweets critical of Israel.
Speaking to the Journal-Star, Bressman said: “It makes me sick to my stomach to go back and read.
“There’s a big disconnect between those words and who I am. I am disgusted by them and a lot of what I said is sick and twisted.”
Governor of Nebraska Pete Ricketts condemns election staffer’s ‘hate-filled views’
In a statement, Governor Ricketts said: “I condemn these statements and this hateful worldview, which do not reflect my beliefs or the beliefs of Nebraskans.”
The governor, who has an anti-LGBT policy record, added: “I unequivocally denounce his hate-filled views towards Jewish people, LGBT people, African Americans, journalists, women, and others.
“I am particularly concerned about his anti-Semitic statements. Anti-Semitism has no place in society no matter where it hides.”
The Nebraska Republican Party’s executive director Ryan Hamilton also distanced itself from Bressman, who had interned for the party.
Hamilton said: “The views expressed by Mr. Bressman online are abhorrent, and have no place in the Nebraska Republican Party or civil society.
“Had the Party been aware he harbored those beliefs, he never would have been permitted to volunteer and had the Party become aware of them during his time as an intern, he would have been terminated immediately.”