UPDATE (Jan. 29, 12:08 p.m.): Virginia state Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant left the Facebook group Tuesday morning, following the American Ledger’s reporting. The other legislators listed in this report remained members as of this update.
A Virginia state senator who voted against removing Confederate monuments is a member of a hate-filled conservative Facebook group, an affiliation that has dogged other Republicans in recent months.
State Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, who represents a district around Richmond, has been a member of the simply named Facebook group Tea Party since June, even as other politicians faced criticism for their links to the group, where users cheer-lead President Donald Trump alongside anti-Semitic and racist posts.
In the last week, members have said progressive philanthropist George Soros “participated in Hitlers (sic) regime,” called U.S. Sen. Krysten Sinema, D-Ariz., a “whore,” called Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, a “liberal globalist scumbag” and said U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., “needs to be deported” because, several wrote, she is an “ISIS sympathizer.”
A post in August 2017 calling the violent white-supremacist rallies in Charlottesville “completely ludicrous and made up out of Hollywood” was widely shared.
In February, one user called civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and the Congressional Black Caucus “black supremacists.” In July, another wrote, “Whites need to leave South Africa, so it can turn into a sh*thole like every other country on the continent.”
Dunnavant’s personal account was added to the group by a Republican activist who added other Virginia legislators: Sen. William Stanley Jr. and Dels. Terry Austin, Richard Bell, David LaRock, Todd Pillion and Brenda Pogge.
Another delegate, Jeffrey Campbell, is also a member of the group but was added by a separate activist.
The group was the subject of media criticism after the American Ledger reported in August that then-U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., had been a moderator of the group, raising new questions about his ties to the racist right.
DeSantis, now the governor of Florida, quickly left the group, and his campaign said it cut off ties with a staff member who was an active member of the group.
Newsweek reported that other Republicans were members of the group, including now-Rep. Daniel Crenshaw of Texas and former Virginia senatorial nominee Corey Stewart.
The Facebook group’s banner shows the flags of Israel, the U.S. and the Confederacy along with the Christian flag and the Gadsden flag, the yellow banner that reads “Don’t tread on me.”
In the Senate, Dunnavant has voted several times to maintain the state’s celebrations of the Confederacy.
In February 2016 and again in January 2018, she voted to prohibit local governments from removing Confederate monuments.
This month, Dunnavant voted against ending the celebration of Lee-Jackson Day, which honors the Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, as a state holiday. It is held annually on the Friday before Martin Luther King Jr. Day.