U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik is coming under fire for agreeing to hold a rally on Wednesday featuring Scott Presler, who has expressed anti-Muslim views and espoused conspiracy theories casting doubt on the legitimacy of the 2020 election.
Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, along with Rise PAC and the Saratoga County Republican Party, is hosting a rally and voter registration drive at 5:30 p.m. at Gavin Park in Wilton. The featured speaker is GOP activist Scott Presler. Presler organized multiple protests leading up to the Jan. 6 riot. In a tweet, he called it “the largest civil rights protest in American history.”
He also served as a strategist for an organization, Act for America, that the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center have called the largest anti-Muslim hate group in the country.
Presler has promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory in his social media accounts, according to Media Matters.
Opponents to Presler’s appearance have organized what they are calling “No to Hate in Upstate, No to Fascist Attacks on Democracy.” The event will take place at 5:30 p.m. at Congress Park at 268 Broadway in Saratoga Springs.
“This person is one of the leading anti-Muslim hatemongers in America. He was a major supporter of the so-called ‘Stop the Steal’ insurrection on Jan 6. He was there at the Capitol at the riot,” said Joe Seeman, one of the organizers of the “No to Hate” rally.
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Presler was at the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol but was not one of the people who broke into the Capitol.
Seeman said by inviting this person to speak, local Republicans are endorsing his views.
“They’re all making it clear they support overthrowing democracy and turning America into a fascist state and the Big Lie. They support hatred against Muslims, discrimination and racism,” he said.
Seeman said Stefanik is bringing Presler here to “rile up the base,” so she can make money. Stefanik voted against the certification of Biden’s Electoral College win.
Seeman said he wanted to organize an event to send a clear message that the upstate region does not endorse hate. He said organizers considered holding the protest outside the Republican event but decided against it.
“We thought there would be a lot of shouting and yelling. We thought it be best to do our rally in the Saratoga area, separately as a peaceful vigil against hate and against a fascist assault on democracy,” he said.
Democrat Matt Putorti of Whitehall, who is challenging Stefanik, called on her to disinvite and disavow Presler.
“It is unconscionable that Elise Stefanik, an elected official sworn to protect our county, would team up with Scott Presler and his traitorous, bigoted, radical agenda under the guise of voter registration,,” he said. “Elise Stefanik has intentionally chosen to align herself with conspiracy theories and hate to increase her political power. The people of this district want a representative who holds their values of community, empathy, and patriotism.”
Stefanik’s campaign did not return an email seeking comment.
Michael Goot covers politics, crime and courts, Warren County, education and business. Reach him at 518-742-3320 or email@example.com.