Republican congressional candidate Art Halvorson responded Wednesday to the revelation that a former party official who endorsed him - and whose support Halvorson noted in a press release - was involved for years in a white nationalist group.
Jim Taylor, a former Franklin County Republican Party chairman and one-time candidate for state Senate, endorsed Halvorson last month, according to a campaign statement.
But as the county party's current chairman noted Wednesday in a Harrisburg Patriot-News article, Taylor was a founding member of the National Policy Institute, a far-right group that claims to "ensure [the] biological and cultural continuity" of the white race.
In a call to the Mirror on Wednesday, Halvorson said his campaign was preparing a full response that would expose the "ugly" work his opponents undertook to press the Taylor story.
"What they've said is flatly untrue," Halvorson said after a Franklin County event.
"As we reveal and unravel this story, the voters will be very interested. ... This is much bigger than even it looks," Halvorson said.
Halvorson's campaign first noted Taylor's endorsement in the last line of an April 14 news release covering an endorsement from Chambersburg's mayor.
Contact information for Taylor wasn't available Wednesday. Halvorson said Taylor would release a news release on his side of the story today.
In a 2012 interview with the Chambersburg Public Opinion, Taylor distanced himself from the National Policy Institute, which listed him as a board member after its 2005 founding. He said he would no longer wish to associate with the group, which carries the slogan, "For our people, our culture, our future."
However, in 2007 - when tax forms still listed Taylor as the institute's vice president - the group issued a 100-page report, "The State of White America," that lamented the success of the civil rights movement and suggested white society is under threat.
"The past 53 years have not been kind to white America," the report stated. "And as white America goes, so goes America."
Taylor now works with conservative lobby and fundraising groups. In 2004, America's Political Action Committee, a group he reportedly founded, donated $5,000 to the Charles Martel Society, another organization listed as a far-right "academic racist" hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Taylor compared the group to Jewish organization B'nai B'rith and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 2012, asking: "Why not something for white people?"
Franklin County Republican Party Chairman Dwight Weidman noted the Taylor-Halvorson connection Wednesday in the Patriot-News.
There appears to be little love lost between Taylor and Weidman: In a 2012 Facebook post, Taylor accused Weidman of publishing "snide attacks" against him under false names.
In the article, Weidman denied the suggestion that his comments were politically motivated. He claimed to have warned Halvorson of the danger of accepting Taylor's endorsement.
Rep. Bill Shuster's campaign manager Sean Joyce responded to the endorsement in a written statement Wednesday.
"Art Halvorson decided to stand shoulder to shoulder with Jim Taylor despite knowing his past ties to racist organizations," Joyce said. "That is truly unfortunate. But what is even more disappointing is Halvorson's decision to double down on and defend Jim Taylor's endorsement."
Mirror Staff Writer Ryan Brown is at 946-7457.