Anti-LGBT senator claims she had ‘no idea’ she was rubbing shoulders with a neo-Nazi white supremacist

Kelly Loeffler

Georgia Republican Kelly Loeffler insists she had “no idea” who former Ku Klux Klan leader and neo-Nazi Chester Doles was when she took a photo with him at a campaign event on Friday.

Doles spent decades as an organiser of the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazi National Alliance and served a felony sentence for almost beating a Black man to death in 1993.

He marched with a racist skinhead gang in 2017 at the violent Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which left one person dead and 28 injured.

On 11 December, he posed for a smiling picture with Loeffler, the multi-millionaire Republican senator who is fighting to retain her seat in the high-stakes Georgia run-off.

Now, she’s also battling allegations of racism, being forced to issue a vehement condemnation of Doles.

“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 spokesman Stephen Lawson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Loeffler used the exact same excuse in September, when Doles was ejected from a rally she headlined in September. She pled ignorance then as now, claiming she was “unaware of Doles or the controversy over his attendance”.

A spokesperson for Loeffler’s Democratic rival, Raphael Warnock, said there was “no acceptable explanation” for Loeffler’s photo with Doles.

“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,” he said.

It’s far from the first controversy to hit the senator’s beleaguered campaign.

Earlier this month Buzzfeed News discovered that she and her husband had personally donated thousands to anti-LGBT+ groups, including a Christian adoption agency that believes homosexuality is akin to “bestiality and incest”.

It’s entirely in keeping with Loeffler’s horrific anti-LGBT+ record in the Senate, where she introduced a bill to bar trans athletes from competing in school sports and could force them to undergo invasive genital screenings.

She is known to harbour close ties with multiple anti-LGBT+ organisations, notably the homophobic hate group Family Research Council, with the man she selected as her deputy chief of staff having worked there for 20 years.