May 8, 2024 - Politics & Policy

GOP campaign staffer "liked" antisemitic memes

Illustration of the Republican elephant icon with cursor arrows in place of stars

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A staffer for Montana Republican Senate candidate Tim Sheehy engaged with numerous social media posts with racist and antisemitic messaging, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: A GOP candidate is paying a staffer who liked antisemitic memes at the same time that Republicans have been unified in slamming Democrats over antisemitism at recent pro-Palestinian protests.

  • 21-year-old Caleb Oriet introduced himself as "deputy political director" of Sheehy's campaign at an event last month, according to audio obtained by Axios.
  • The campaign has said he was a "young field staffer."
  • Oriet has been on the campaign's payroll since at least last October, according to federal filings.

Zoom in: Oriet's Instagram account, @realbased_caleb, liked a number of antisemitic and racist posts, which had not been previously reported.

  • The account was deleted after Axios reached out to the campaign for comment.
  • The Sheehy campaign did not respond to the request.
  • One of the Instagram posts from June 2022 that was liked by Oriet says "Don't follow me for my cute cat posting if you can't stand by me when I deny the Holocaust."

Many of the posts were from the meme account "its.okay.to.be.christian," which Oriet followed, and regularly posts antisemitic content.

Zoom out: Sheehy's campaign last week brushed aside the Daily Beast's reporting that claimed Oriet engaged with racist content on X, formerly known as Twitter.

  • For example, Orient liked a post that referred to Black people as "the most criminal, dependent, and socially destructive part" of the U.S population.
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