- Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona skipped Friday’s stimulus vote to attend the AFPAC committee.
- The conference is a white nationalist alternative to CPAC.
- Gosar cited special rules introduced by Congress during the pandemic to skip attending the vote in person.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona skipped Friday night’s vote on the stimulus bill to attend a white nationalist conference in Florida.
Gosar on Friday night was among the attendees of America First Political Action Committee (AFPAC), a far-right alternative to the CPAC conference of conservatives held nearby.
White nationalist activist Nick Fuentes organizes the conference. Fuentes was among the far-right activists who rallied Trump supporters ahead of the January 6 Capitol riot and attended the Charlottesville white nationalist rally in 2017.
—Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 27, 2021
Gosar had told Congress that he couldn’t attend the vote on the $1.9 stimulus bill proposed by the Biden administration under rules allowing lawmakers to cast votes remotely for reasons related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The stimulus bill passed the Democrat-controlled House in a vote in the early hours of Saturday.
Gosar sought to justify attending AFPAC in a statement to the Washington Post Saturday, claiming he was trying to reach out to younger Republicans.
“We thought about it, and we thought: There is a group of young people that are becoming part of the election process and becoming a bigger force,” Gosar told the Post. “So why not take that energy and listen to what they’ve got to say?”
The following day he attended CPAC, reported Arizona Central, where he sought to distance himself from white nationalism, at a panel discussion he spoke at.
—Zachary Petrizzo (@ZTPetrizzo) February 27, 2021
“I denounce, when we talk about white racism, that’s not appropriate,” Gosar said. “I believe in a strong immigration system, but a legal immigration system.”
A spokesperson for Gosar did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
At the AFPAC event, Fuentes said that “white people are done being bullied,” and praised the Capitol riot, where five people lost their lives, as “awesome,” describing it as “light-hearted mischief,” reported The Daily Beast.
He also mocked Rep. Madison Cawthorne, of North Carolina, who is partially paralyzed, for being in a wheelchair, according to the report.
Gosar was joined at the AFPAC conference by former Rep. Steve King. He was expelled from committee duties in 2019 after questioning why “white supremacy” was considered wrong. He lost a primary challenge for his Iowa seat in 2020 after being abandoned by GOP leadership.