Riverside Sheriff Bianco To Appear With Far-Right Extremist at Political Fundraiser
Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco is slated to appear Friday at a fundraiser for conservative Inland Empire school board candidates along with Katie Hopkins, a British commentator known for her racist, anti-Muslim, and anti-immigrant writing.
Hopkins will be the master of ceremonies at the event, which is organized by the Inland Empire Family PAC, a group founded five years ago by Pastor Tim Thompson “to engage our local community and preserve the Judeo-Christian values in Southern California,” according to its website. Thompson is also listed as a speaker at the fundraiser.
Bianco, who is up for reelection in June, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The sheriff’s scheduled appearance with Hopkins concerns Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino.
“She is notorious,” Levin said. “The idea that any government civic official would appear with such an unrepentant bigot says a lot about where politics are — not only in Southwest Riverside but in the nation as a whole.”
Thompson described Hopkins as a friend and said her comments in the past have been taken out of context. “She gets mischaracterized by the radical left,” he told us.
Warnings About ‘Cockroaches’ And A ‘Migrant Invasion’
Hopkins got her start as a contestant on the British version of The Apprentice. She later remade herself as a far-right “Christian conservative” commentator, specializing in throwing verbal firebombs.
Muslims and Islam are a regular target. In a 2015 column, Hopkins wrote that Libyan migrants were “cockroaches” and said boats filled with refugees from North Africa should be met with “gunships.” according to The Bridge Initiative, a research project on Islamophobia housed at Georgetown University.
In 2015, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump tweeted his support of Hopkins after she backed his candidacy and praised his call for a Muslim ban.
Hopkins has collaborated with extremist U.S. groups, specifically Frank Gafney’s Center for Security Policy — described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “a conspiracy-oriented mouthpiece for the anti-Muslim movement in the United States” — and the David Horowitz Freedom Center. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls Horowitz “a driving force of the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-black movements.”
The idea that any government civic official would appear with such an unrepentant bigot says a lot about where politics are — not only in Southwest Riverside but in the nation as a whole.
Speaking on a panel with Gafney at the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference, Hopkins warned the U.S. not to follow the path of Western Europe, otherwise it would become “unrecognizable” and “fall” to the “migrant invasion,” according to a Bridge Initiative fact sheet.
In 2017, as the Black Lives Matter movement gained steam, Hopkins tweeted: “Dear black people, If your lives matter why do you stab and shoot each other so much.”
In June 2020 she was permanently suspended from Twitter for violating its hateful conduct policy.
Hopkins was a columnist for a couple of British outlets and had a London-based talk radio show for a while, but they all eventually dropped her.
‘Parental Rights’…’Sexual Indoctrination Of Children’…’Transgender Ideology’
This is not Hopkins’ first trip to Riverside. She headlined the 2018 Unite IE Conservative Conference. Last year, she spoke to the Rancho Mirage Republican Women Federated. Hopkins is also scheduled to speak Friday at a luncheon of the Riverside Republican Women Federated.
Friday’s fundraiser is to support eight conservative candidates for school boards in Temecula, Menifee, Murrieta and Lake Elsinore.
Thompson said the Inland Empire Family PAC is focused on three key issues.
“Number one is parental rights … putting parents back in control of what happens to their children … whether it's mandates or vaccines,” he said. The second issue is stopping the “sexual indoctrination” of children, “and that includes the transgender ideology,” Thompson said.
The PAC also wants to ban critical race theory from the schools, he said. These are all issues on which Hopkins is vocal.
Levin said these “wedge issues” amplified by Hopkins could provide traction for the PAC’s preferred candidates.
‘It’s Just A Lot Of Dog Whistles’
Sheriff Bianco’s presence at an event so obviously driven by an ideology aimed at preserving white Christian America amounts to a violation of church and state, said Philip Drucker of Bianco Must Go, a campaign to oust the sheriff from office.
“It’s just a lot of dog whistles,” he said. “Sheriff Chad doesn’t care who he is being seen with.”
Bianco faces one opponent in the June election, retired Riverside Sheriff’s Capt. Michael Lujan.
Bianco has come under fire previously for his past affiliation with the extremist Oath Keepers group.
He told us last fall that he joined the group in 2014 for a year while he was a sheriff’s lieutenant. He denounced participation by some of the group’s members in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, but insisted the Oath Keepers is not a threat to democracy, saying it stands “for protecting the Constitution.”
In addition to the Oath Keepers, Bianco said he’s a supporter of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, which subscribes to the idea that federal and state authorities are subordinate to a local sheriff’s authority.
Those who back the Constitutional Sheriffs group "are being told by extremist leaders that they have the right to decide what laws they want to enforce, and can keep federal law enforcement agents out of their counties,” Southern Poverty Law Center senior fellow Mark Potok wrote in 2016. “That is utterly untrue, the very opposite of constitutional, and it in fact encourages sheriffs and their deputies to defy the law of the land.”
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