Missouri judge allows former ‘honorary’ member of KKK to remain on state’s GOP primary ballot

A Missouri judge on Friday ruled that a self-avowed former “honorary” member of the Ku Klux Klan can remain on the state’s Republican primary ballot for governor, despite Missouri Republicans seeking to keep him off the ballot.

“The Plaintiff did not present to the Court any evidence that having McClanahan on a primary election ballot would cause it any injury,” wrote circuit court Judge Cotton Walker in a ruling. “McClanahan’s presence on the primary election ballot is not necessarily an endorsement of the candidate by the party.”

The state’s GOP said in February that it was working to remove long-shot candidate Darrell Leon McClanahan III from the Republican primary for governor race after the Anti-Defamation League in 2022 published an article detailing McClanahan’s extremist history. The article also included photos showing the candidate apparently doing a Nazi salute in front of a burning cross and standing next to KKK members.

The Missouri Republican Party said in February that McClanahan’s KKK affiliation “fundamentally contradicts our party’s values and platform.”

NBC News has not independently verified the photos of McClanahan, but the candidate confirmed their veracity to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, according to a February report.

“They have a bad picture of me,” McClanahan told the outlet about the photo of him in front of the cross, asserting that he was “not a Nazi.” He confirmed a separate photo of him pictured with KKK members, according to the Post-Dispatch.

In a more than 1,100-word response to NBC News’ request for comment on the judge’s decision, McClanahan said that he is “not a racist” and “not anti-Semitic.”

“Please report some real news,” McClanahan said in a block of text without end punctuation. “You’re just looking for the hashtag KKK it’s an invisible empire who would admit to being a member of the KKK.”

The Missouri GOP did not immediately responded to NBC News’ requests for comment on Saturday regarding the judge’s decision.

McClanahan said in court documents that he has never been a member of the KKK. However, he said that he “was provided an Honorary 1-year membership” by a KKK Missouri coordinator.

In the same court documents, McClanahan said that he “did attend in 2019 a private religious Christian Identity Cross lighting ceremony falsely described as a cross burning.”

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com


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