Mandela Barnes, the Democratic Senate candidate in Wisconsin, appeared on Russian state TV several times and was interviewed alongside a prominent white nationalist.
Barnes sat down for at least six interviews with RT, the Kremlin-funded network formerly known as Russia Today, while he was serving as a state representative in 2015 and 2016, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on Thursday.
RT was forced to register in 2017 as a foreign agent in the United States under Department of Justice guidelines. The State Department said the network "provide[s] disinformation and propaganda support for the Kremlin's foreign policy objectives."
The appearances could fuel perceptions that Barnes's views are out of touch with mainstream voters.
In one 2016 interview about police violence and Black Lives Matter, the outlet spoke to Barnes alongside Richard Spencer, one of the best-known white nationalists in the United States at the time.
Spencer, who advocated for a white ethnostate and "peaceful ethnic cleansing," was described in 2013 as the "symbol of a new generation of 'intellectual' white supremacists" by the Anti-Defamation League.
During the interview, Barnes described violent anti-police protests as a "human reaction when you feel that your rights have been infringed upon, when you feel your safety could be in jeopardy for a simple traffic stop or any run-in with the law, this is how it boils over."
Spencer argued that the Black Lives Matter movement was a "Black identity movement" that was "using police violence as, you could say, an excuse or as a spark, as a way of expressing their bigger agenda."
In another interview in 2016, after five police officers were killed during an anti-police ambush in Dallas, Barnes criticized law enforcement officers for "over-exercising their badges."
Barnes's opponent, Republican senator Ron Johnson, slammed the Democrat for appearing on the Russian TV network.
"Trashing American law enforcement on Russian state TV and allowing himself to be used by Vladimir Putin's propagandists is as bad as it gets," Alec Zimmerman, communications director for the Johnson campaign, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Lieutenant Governor Barnes knew he was being used as a puppet for a foreign dictator in a Russian disinformation scheme and he should apologize to law enforcement in Wisconsin and across America. Mandela Barnes isn’t fit to represent anyone in the United States Senate."
Published under: 2022 Election , Black Lives Matter , Mandela Barnes , Racism , Ron Johnson , Russia , Vladimir Putin , White Supremacy