The Senate runoff races in Georgia that will decide party control of the Senate have been filled with false and misleading claims and attacks between candidates, and with five days left the trend shows no sign of slowing.
When asked Wednesday about recent remarks Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler made against her Democratic opponent, Rev. Raphael Warnock, Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff went on the offensive, claiming Loeffler was campaigning with a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
“[H]ere’s the bottom line, Kelly Loeffler has been campaigning with a klansman,” Ossoff told Fox News Wednesday. “Kelly Loeffler has been campaigning with a klansman,” he repeated, “and so she is stooping to these vicious personal attacks to distract from the fact that she’s been campaigning with a former member of the Ku Klux Klan.”
Ossoff tweeted the video from Fox News, writing again that “Kelly Loeffler campaigned with a klansman.”
Facts First: This is false. A former member of the KKK took a photo with Loeffler while she was campaigning earlier this month. Loeffler’s campaign said the senator did not know who the man was and would have removed him from the event had she known. This is not, at all, the same as “campaigning with a klansman,” as Ossoff claimed. Politicians often take pictures with people they don’t know.
The photo, taken at a December 11 campaign event, shows Loeffler posing with Chester Doles, a former Ku Klux Klan leader and member of the neo-Nazi National Alliance who was sentenced to prison in the 1990s for assaulting a Black man in Maryland.
After Doles uploaded the image on a Russian social media site, as CNN reported, it spread elsewhere online and was widely criticized by Democrats.
On December 13, Loeffler’s campaign condemned Doles, telling the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Kelly had no idea who that was, and if she had she would have kicked him out immediately because we condemn in the most vociferous terms everything that he stands for.”
CNN reported at the time there was “no evidence she recognized Doles or sought his support.”
The Ossoff campaign provided CNN with a recent Huffington Post article showing several pictures of Loeffler on the campaign trail posing with individuals allegedly associated with far-right wing groups but these photos do not demonstrate that Loeffler campaigned with a former member of the KKK, as Ossoff alleged. Loeffler’s campaign told the Huffington Post that the senator “denounces all forms of hate.”