Warnock and Ossoff level misleading claims that Loeffler is ‘campaigning with a Klansman’

Warnock and Ossoff level misleading claims that Loeffler is 'campaigning with a Klansman'

Two Georgia Democratic Senate hopefuls have been accusing  Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, of “campaigning with a Klansman,” which she has denied.

Jon Ossoff, who is facing incumbent GOP Sen. David Perdue in the Jan. 5 runoff election, leveled the accusation during a press gaggle Wednesday in response to a question from Fox News’ Peter Doocy.

“Kelly Loeffler has been campaigning with Klansmen,” he said, repeating the same line in the next breath for emphasis. “She is stooping to these vicious personal attacks (against Warnock) to distract from the fact that she’s been campaigning with a former member of the Ku Klux Klan.”

The Rev. Raphael Warnock, who is facing Loeffler in the state’s other runoff Senate race, doubled down in a tweet Thursday. He shared a photo taken earlier this month that shows Loeffler smiling alongside a former Ku Klux Klan leader named Chester Doles. He also included a newspaper clipping showing Doles leading a march with other Klansmen. 

A spokesman for Loeffler’s campaign did not immediately respond to a Fox News request for comment. But she has said she doesn’t know the man and condemned his beliefs two weeks ago.

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“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,” Stephen Lawson, Loeffler’s campaign spokesman, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution shortly after Doles shared the “selfie” to a Russian social media site.

U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., talks to supporters during a campaign event  Dec. 31, at McCray's Tavern in Marietta, Ga. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., talks to supporters during a campaign event  Dec. 31, at McCray’s Tavern in Marietta, Ga. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

It’s common for candidates to pose for selfies with people along the campaign trail, and Doles does not appear to have been part of the campaign, as Ossoff alleged.

Doles spent years as an vocal White supremacist, and he is a former member of the KKK as well as other racist groups. He marched at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, where a woman was killed by a White supremacist who drove his car into a crowd of counterdemonstrators.

Doles pleaded guilty to a battery charge after attacking a Black man seen riding in a truck with a White woman in Maryland in the 1990s, according to the Baltimore Sun. As part of a plea deal to reduce the charge from assault with intent to murder, he agreed to testify against a fellow Klansman accomplice.

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Doles told the Associated Press this month that he recently renounced racism “and asked for God’s forgiveness.” Despite that, the outlet reported that he nevertheless has maintained ties to friends who remain involved in the White supremacist movement.

Loeffler had been appointed to fill the seat of Sen. Johnny Isakson, who stepped down a year ago. Her race with Warnock is a special election for Isakson’s seat.

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Ossoff managed to force a runoff with Perdue after neither candidate was able to get enough votes to win the seat outright on Election Day.

The Republicans need to hold on to at least one seat to maintain their Senate majority.

Fox News’ Peter Hasson and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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