The pro-Democrat group The Lincoln Project took responsibility for a hoax in which political operatives dressed up as white supremacists wielding tiki torches to attend a rally hosted by Republican Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin.
“Today’s demonstration was our way of reminding Virginians what happened in Charlottesville four years ago, the Republican Party’s embrace of those values, and Glenn Youngkin’s failure to condemn it,” the group said in a statement. The Lincoln Project did not admit to organizing the hoax until pressed by Vice News, which identified one of the participants. The operatives appeared at a Youngkin rally in Charlottesville, and claimed to support the Republican.
These men approached @GlennYoungkin’s bus as it pulled up saying what sounded like, “We’re all in for Glenn.” Here they are standing in front of the bus as his campaign event at Guadalajara started.@NBC29 pic.twitter.com/l681ejyBjc
— Elizabeth Holmes (@holmes_reports) October 29, 2021
During the 2017 Charlottesville ‘Unite the Right’ rally, white supremacists carried tiki torches while wearing white polo shirts. One counter-protester and two police officers died.
A statement from The Lincoln Project regarding the events at Glenn Youngkin’s bus tour. https://t.co/bcm8iP3EUZ
— The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) October 29, 2021
Lauren Windsor, a left-wing activist known for recording conservatives with hidden cameras, also admitted to participating in the hoax.
In my capacity as a communications consultant, I worked w @ProjectLincoln to coordinate today’s Youngkin action in Charlottesville. I join them in the fight to defend our democracy from rightwing extremists and call for Glenn Youngkin to denounce Trump’s ‘very fine people.
— Lauren Windsor (@lawindsor) October 29, 2021
The Youngkin campaign condemned the incident, and Youngkin claimed that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe was responsible for planting the demonstrators.
“I think they work for Terry McAuliffe, and I’m sure he sent them,” he told local NBC 29.
The McAuliffe campaign denied knowledge of the incident.
“This was not us or anyone affiliated with our campaign,” McAuliffe spokesperson Renzo Olivari told Fox News. “There is one candidate in this race who has embraced white nationalists — and his name is Glenn Youngkin.”
Multiple McAuliffe staffers promoted the hoax before the Lincoln Project admitted that the operatives were not actual white supremacists.
“This is who Glenn Youngkin’s supporters are,” campaign spokeswoman Christina Freundlich tweeted.
Communications director Jen Goodman claimed that alleged support for Youngkin from white supremacists was “disgusting and disqualifying” for the Republican.
The McAuliffe campaign has frequently attempted to tie Youngkin to former President Donald Trump, who endorsed the Republican following his primary victory. Youngkin has kept Trump at arms-length throughout his general election campaign, condemning a rally hosted by radio host John Fredericks as “weird and wrong” after attendees pledged allegiance to a flag that flew at the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Trump called into the rally by phone, but Youngkin did not attend.
During an appearance with McAuliffe, President Joe Biden claimed that Youngkin was akin to Jan. 6 rioters. (RELATED: McAuliffe Skips Pair Of North Virginia Campaign Events Without Explanation)
“Extremism can come in many forms. It can come in the rage of a mob driven to assault the Capitol. It can come in a smile and a fleece vest,” Biden said on Oct. 26.
The Lincoln Project was formed by former Republican Party operatives ahead of the 2020 election to support Democrats. Multiple leaders of the group resigned following the revelation that co-founder John Weaver sexually harassed multiple young men.