Some of the most conservative and controversial Republicans in the United States are gathering at an unlikely destination this weekend – Manhattan.
With some prominent Democrats and other critics raising concerns, the New York Young Republican Club is holding its annual gala on Saturday, featuring Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Donald Trump Jr., former Trump advisor Steve Bannon and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The guest list also includes far-right operative Jack Posobiec, members of an Austrian political party founded by a Nazi SS officer, and a number of U.S. and European right-wing activists, commentators and politicians.
What You Need To Know
- Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Donald Trump Jr. and other right-wing activists, commentators and politicians are attending a gala hosted by a Republican club in Manhattan Saturday
- Among the headliners is Jack Posobiec, a far-right operative who the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified as working with white nationalists and neo-Nazis
- Members of an Austrian political party founded by a Nazi SS officer will also be in attendance
- Event organizers are keeping the location secret and coordinating with the NYPD over concerns there will be protests
“It’s sort of an iconic event in a way that it brings all these people together, they’re able to communicate, they’re able to, you know, network, share experiences, contact with each other,” club president Gavin Wax said. “It’s sort of like a coming together of the minds and sort of an event of the year is how we like to push it, both for the club and for the movement at large.”
A City Hall spokesperson said in a statement that city officials are “monitoring the event for any alarming activity.” Wax said he is coordinating with the NYPD and event security in expectation of protests.
Ten members of the far-right Proud Boys group were arrested in Manhattan in 2018 following an attack on protestors outside the Metropolitan Republican Club. Wax was in attendance that night and witnessed the violence, later writing an article for a conservative website titled “We Are All Proud Boys Now.”
Greene and Posobiec are headlining the event, which Wax says will be held in Midtown. Organizers are not revealing the precise location out of security concerns. The club’s invitation describes Greene as “a wife, mother and Christian nationalist patriot.” Posobiec, a former Navy officer-turned-conspiracy theorist, is one of the most prolific spreaders of misinformation in the country, critics said.
“I think you can safely argue that no single person is more responsible for spreading politically charged disinformation during the Trump era than Jack Posobiec,” Southern Poverty Law Center senior investigative reporter Michael Edison Hayden told NY1. “He is unequivocally an extremist who has demonstrable ties to neo-Nazis, white nationalists and anti-government extremists.”
Posobiec could not be reached for comment.
“We reject the framing and the accusations of the SPLC,” Wax said. “These are all sort of baseless accusations that are thrown ad nauseam at anyone who even dares to veer just slightly right of center.”
Among his long, well-documented – by researchers and journalists, including the SPLC – history of collaboration with white nationalists and antisemites, Posobiec notably worked with two Washington, D.C., brothers the SPLC identifies as neo-Nazis and who the FBI alleged had ties to the man accused of killing 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018.
“There should be no legitimizing white supremacists or people who are associated with neo-Nazis, period,” Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said, citing rising numbers of antiseimitic incidents in the city. “This is a toxic environment where antisemitism is being mainstreamed. And it’s outrageous that the New York Young Republican Club is contributing to that.”
Along with Greene, three incoming Republican congressmen, Dutchess County legislator Ben Geller, incoming upstate Assemblyman Brian Maher, 2022 New York gubernatorial candidate Andrew Giuliani, and a spate of Trump administration officials are featured guests. The younger Giuliani will serve as toastmaster, according to the gala invitation.
George Santos, an incoming member of Congress who will represent parts of Queens and Nassau counties, is listed as a guest. Santos, who attended the Jan. 6 rally near the U.S. Capitol, did not return requests for comment.
Representatives for state Republican Party chair Nick Langworthy and City Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli did not respond to requests for comment.
An alliance with a party founded by Nazis
At least half a dozen European political figures will be in attendance, including two leading members of the Freedom Party of Austria, a far-right party founded by an SS officer in the aftermath of World War II as a political home for Austrian Nazis after the Nazi Party was banned.
“Historically, the Freedom Party can be described as a kind of a successor of the Nazi Party,” said Bernhard Weidinger, a visiting Fulbright Fellow at Northwestern University and a researcher tracking right-wing extremism at the Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance in Vienna. “They’re certainly not a neo-Nazi party right now. But they are a far-right party. And they have a long history of both racism and antisemitism, of xenophobia, of a systematic vilification of asylum seekers and refugees and other minorities.”
Both Austrian Jewish leaders and the government of Israel refuse to work with Freedom Party ministers when they are part of governing coalitions, which they have been on and off for the past two decades, Weidinger said.
Wax, who is Jewish, said he did not believe the Freedom Party holds bigoted views and pointed to their willingness to forge ties with the club, which has numerous Jewish members in leadership, as evidence of their modern-day tolerance.
“I think a lot of the same accusations that are leveled at them now could be leveled at the Republican Party, and those are usually baseless,” Wax said. “I think the German angle, the Austrian angle adds to the attacks, obviously, because, you know, you go back far enough, everyone in those countries were affiliated with Nazis at some point in history.”
Rep. Jerry Nadler, who in January will represent the neighborhood where the gala is being held, denounced the gathering.
“Antisemitic and far-right extremists have become central figures in the GOP. Even the former president is dining with known racists and antisemites,” Nadler said in a statement. “The event’s headliners have built brands on the backs of hatred and bigotry. The New York Young Republican Club–and national Republicans–should be ashamed. It’s dangerous and disgraceful, and New Yorkers deserve far better than this.”