FEATURED:

GOP rep defends inviting alt-right activist to the State of the Union

GOP rep defends inviting alt-right activist to the State of the Union

Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzSoros rep: Fox News refuses to have me on Trump: 'I wouldn't be surprised' if Soros were paying for migrant caravan DeSantis claimed Gillum would appoint 'Soros-backed activists' if elected governor MORE (R-Fla.) on Thursday defended his decision to invite an activist with ties to the alt-right movement to President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump to oust Nielsen as early as this week: report California wildfire becomes deadliest in state’s history Sinema’s Senate win cheered by LGBTQ groups MORE's State of the Union address. 

The Republican congressman told Fox Business Network's "Cavuto Coast to Coast" that he did not know Chuck Johnson was tied to various figures within the alt-right community. 

The congressman said the ticket was originally meant for his own father, who was sick and unable to make it to the event. 

ADVERTISEMENT

"I met Chuck just briefly before allowing him to snag a ticket that was at our office, but some of the claims against Mr. Johnson are not accurate. He’s not a Holocaust denier, he’s not a white supremacist. Those are unfortunate characterizations of him but I did not know he was as perhaps infamous and controversial as he was when he came by and got a free ticket," Gaetz said.  

"He is not guilty of the things that some people have charged him of as it relates to those claims. Look, he’s a controversial figure. There were plenty of controversial folks at the State of the Union. I don’t just cavort with people who hold my views; I think there are people on the right and on the left who you spend time with, learn more about, understand their viewpoint," he said. 

Gaetz said that U.S. Capitol Police alerted him when they spoke to Johnson about an unrelated matter, which Gaetz said did not deter him from allowing Johnson to attend the address.   

"He was a polite and just an entirely appropriate guest, I thought.”

Johnson heads a crowdfunding site that has garnered tens of thousands of dollars for legal fees related to the white supremacist website the Daily Stormer and other figures in the alt-right community.

The activist said he had received invitations from several lawmakers, but accepted Gaetz's because "he's into stuff on the issues that I care about," such as marijuana and the cryptocurrency known as bitcoin.