State Sen. Guy Reschenthaler, running for Pennsylvania's 14th Congressional District, is struggling to explain his extensive involvement with an overt racist.
As Republican state Sen. Guy Reschenthaler runs for Pennsylvania's 14th Congressional District, his past is coming back to haunt him. Namely, his involvement with former Trump administration official Carl Higbie, who is notorious for racist, homophobic, and xenophobic tirades.
Reschenthaler, who is running against special election loser and fellow state Sen. Rick Saccone, co-hosted a talk radio show with Higbie titled "Sound of Freedom." He also wrote a laudatory foreword to Higbie's 2012 book, "Battle on the Home Front: A Navy SEAL's Mission to Save the American Dream."
As Media Matters for America notes, Higbie's book was also loaded with white-hot hate. He wrote that Hurricane Katrina survivors are "human parasites," that "widespread acceptance" of LGBT people "is wrong," and that "it is my right to be suspicious" of anyone wearing a turban.
But now Reschenthaler is trying to distance himself from the book he promoted. Last week, he told reporters he had not read Higbie's book before writing its foreword and that it was only a "placeholder," suggesting he didn't know the foreword he wrote would actually be published.
These excuses contrast sharply with the fact that Reschenthaler noted in the foreword that he had written it for Higbie "after reading his work," and that he said on their radio show that he "laughed out loud" at a section in the book about fat-shaming airline passengers.
Reschenthaler faced questions about his involvement with Higbie in 2015 when he first ran for state senate. At the time, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he "said he functioned as a counterweight to his more conservative co-host ... and quit the show after a handful of episodes because he became uncomfortable with the conversation."
That doesn't explain why he applauded the book both in the foreword and later on their radio show.
Even now, as Reschenthaler tries to distance himself from Higbie's extremism, he is still making excuses for Higbie's ugly rhetoric.
"Carl has disavowed the statements in that book," he said. "He's done everything he can to move away from that book as well."
But Higbie's record of hateful rhetoric goes far beyond his book.
In January, Higbie resigned as Trump's chief of External Affairs for the Corporation for National Community Service after CNN journalist Andrew Kaczynski unearthed a series of statements he made on his radio program in 2013 and 2014.
Higbie said that black women think "breeding is a form of employment," that Islam is "the ideology of a child molester," that people should be allowed to shoot anyone illegally crossing the border, and that 75 percent of people with PTSD are "milking" it for the disability checks.
Amazingly, Higbie's career in Republican politics is still not over. He now works as director of advocacy for pro-Trump dark money group America First Policies, and recently appeared at an event with Mike Pence.
Republicans simply cannot keep themselves out of controversy and scandal. The American people deserve candidates who do not have closets full of hateful skeletons.