Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler is responding to backlash after posing for a picture with a known white supremacist at her recent rally. The Republican politician smiled for a photo with Chester Doles, a former Ku Klux Klan leader and current member of the neo-Nazi National Alliance who was sentenced to prison in the 1990’s for nearly beating a Black man to death.
Loeffler’s campaign has claimed she didn’t know who Doles was when she took the picture with him and condemned his ideology. Doles also marched in the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia and is a part of racist skinhead gang the Hammerskins.
“Kelly had no idea who that was, and if she had she would have kicked him out immediately because we condemn in the most vociferous terms everything that he stands for,” Loeffler’s spokesperson, Stephen Lawson, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
According to CNN, Doles attended another one of Loeffler’s rallies in September, but was forcibly removed.
Loeffler is currently running against Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock to keep her senate seat in Georgia’s upcoming runoff elections. Republican Sen. David Perdue is also running against a Democrat, Jon Ossoff, in the election, which will take place on Jan. 5.
If elected, Warnock would make history as the first Black senator in the state of Georgia. Warnock is also the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. served as a co-pastor with his father.
Warnock’s spokesperson Michael Brewer responded to the photo of Loeffler and Doles, saying there was “no acceptable explanation.”
“While Kelly Loeffler runs a campaign based on dividing and misleading Georgians, she is once again trying to distance herself from someone who is a known white supremacist and former KKK leader who nearly beat a Black man to death,” Brewer added.