Holocaust-Denier Among Founders of 'Principled' Never Trump Group

Newly formed group says it will fight conspiracy theories

A group of U.S. Army veterans who took part in liberating Nazi death camps walk through the entrance gate of the former Nazi Death Camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, in Oswiecim, southern Poland, Thursday, April 19, 2012, as they take part in the annual March of the Living to commemorate Holocaust victims. Walking with the flag is Frederick Carrier, one of the U.S. soldiers who helped liberate Buchenwald. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)
May 13, 2021

Among the founding members of a "principled" group of "prominent Republicans" working to counter conspiracy theories is a prominent Holocaust-denier.

Pete McCloskey, a former congressman who referenced the "so-called Holocaust" in a keynote address that praised a top Holocaust-denial group, joined "A Call for American Renewal" as a founding signatory. According to former congressman Denver Riggleman, the group aims to "counter disinformation and conspiracy theories" and "step up in this fight for truth and integrity." 

McCloskey served as a Republican representative for California from 1967 to 1983 but changed his affiliation to the Democratic Party in 2007. After leaving Congress, he gave the keynote address at the Institute for Historical Review's 2000 conference. An infamous Holocaust-denial group with ties to neo-Nazi organizations, IHR has described the Holocaust as "some scattered killings" of Jews. According to the group, there is "not evidence" to support "the systematic extermination of six to eight million Jews in concentration camps."

McCloskey's address to IHR members noted his "respect" for "the thesis of this organization." The former congressman also referenced the "so-called Holocaust," adding, "I don't know whether you are right or wrong about the Holocaust." 

A Call for American Renewal could not be reached for comment. One of the group's affiliate organizations—the Republican Political Alliance for Integrity and Reform—did not respond to a request for comment on whether McCloskey embodies the type of Republican the group aspires to promote. 

Stand Up Republic, an affiliated group cofounded by failed presidential candidate Evan McMullin, told the Washington Free Beacon that its principles "make clear that we stand against conspiracies like Holocaust denial, and against bigotry, including anti-Semitism." Communications director Mike Ongstad added that A Call for American Renewal's founders have "commit[ed] themselves to these values" but declined to comment on McCloskey specifically.

McCloskey on multiple occasions contributed to Valerie Plame's 2020 congressional campaign. Plame in 2017 tweeted an article from the Unz Review—an "alternative media selection" known for spreading Holocaust-denial arguments—titled, "America's Jews Are Driving America's Wars." The article suggested that American Jews should have a warning label "kind of like a warning label on a bottle of rat poison" when appearing on television. 

Plame first defended the post, urging her followers to "read the entire article." She later apologized and blamed the post on multitasking during a move. She did not offer an explanation for the eight other Unz Review articles she shared. 

McCloskey in 1989 cofounded the Council for the National Interest, a nonprofit organization focused on Middle East policy. A former board member, Abdurahman Alamoudi, expressed support for terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah during a 2000 anti-Israel rally and was later sentenced to 23 years in prison "on charges related to his activities in the United States and abroad with nations and organizations that have ties to terrorism."

A Call for American Renewal declared "truth" as one of its 13 founding principles.

"We recognize truth and reason as essential to a free and just society, and expect our leaders, citizens, and press to seek and promote them," the group says. "We oppose the employment of fear-mongering, conspiracism, and falsehoods and instead support evidence-based policymaking and honest discourse."