GOP Senate candidate attacks Anti-Defamation League for ‘witchhunt' on far right

GOP Senate candidate attacks Anti-Defamation League for ‘witchhunt' on far right
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An Ohio Republican challenging Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownThe Hill's 12:30 Report Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Overnight Regulation: Feds push to clarify regs on bump stocks | Interior wants Trump to shrink two more monuments | Navajo Nation sues over monument rollback | FCC won't delay net neutrality vote | Senate panel approves bill easing Dodd-Frank rules MORE (D-Ohio) for his Senate seat slammed the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Thursday as a "partisan witchhunt group."

Josh Mandel took to Twitter to accuse the Jewish civil rights group of improperly singling out for criticism far-right activists and internet personalities such as Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec. 

"Sad to see @ADL_National become a partisan witchhunt group targeting people for political beliefs. I stand with @Cernovich & @JackPosobiec," Mandel, who currently serves as Ohio's state treasurer, wrote. 

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Mandel's tweet came two days after the ADL included Cernovich and Posobiec on a list of figures associated with the alt-right, a primarily internet-based white nationalist movement without a clear structure or organization.

In a statement to The Hill, Mandel's campaign said that by releasing such a list, the ADL was venturing down a "slippery slope."

"As the grandson of Holocaust survivors and as a Marine who defended our freedom, Treasurer Mandel believes the ADL is dead wrong for creating hit lists on American citizens," a campaign spokeswoman said. 

"Of all organizations, the ADL should know that making target lists of people based on their political beliefs is a dangerous practice and slippery slope."

Cernovich and Posobiec are known for pushing the so-called "Pizzagate" conspiracy theory, which claimed that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe Clinton GOP lawmakers cite new allegations of political bias in FBI Top intel Dem: Trump Jr. refused to answer questions about Trump Tower discussions with father MORE campaign officials were involved in a child sex trafficking ring operating out of a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant. 

Cernovich, a blogger based in southern California, dubbed the ADL's list as a "hit list of political opponents," claiming in a blog post on Wednesday that the civil rights group is trying to encourage supporters to "murder those the ADL disagrees with politically."

Mandel retweeted Cernovich's message on Twitter promoting that particular blog post.

Posobiec is a Washington correspondent for the far-right Rebel Media and was among the organizers of "DeploraBall," a gala held in Washington in January to celebrate President Trump's inauguration. The event spurred controversy because of its association with alt-right personalities. 

In a video posted on Twitter on Thursday, Posobiec warned the ADL against "making lists of undesirables," before turning the camera to the main entrance of the German Nazi's Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

"It would be wise of the ADL to remember the history of what happened the last time people started going around making lists of undesirables," he said.

The ADL was initially founded to fight anti-Semitism and cites "Jewish values" as the basis of its work.

The ADL defended its list in a statement on Thursday, saying it was in line with the group's mission to "call out those who preach anti-Semitism and bigotry."

“For more than a century, ADL has been guided by its mission to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and fight for equal justice for all – not by politics," the ADL said. "We call out those who preach anti-Semitism and bigotry regardless of their background, party, or standing. Our new report identifies the major figures on the Alt Right and the Alt Lite and explains the differences between the various players in these emerging movements. We stand by our report.”

Updated 4:45 p.m.