Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said he was “shocked and horrified” after leaked chat logs revealed that a man he employed pushed white nationalist ideology and violence.
Bennett Bressman, 22, was the statewide field director for the billionaire governor’s successful re-election campaign in December. Bressman is also a prominent poster on white nationalist Nicholas J. Fuentes’ Discord server, under the moniker bress222, according to Anti-Fascist Action Nebraska, which published the revelation on Sunday.
After searching some 3,000 comments Bressman made, anti-fascist activists and news organizations like Talking Points Memo uncovered his regular use of the N-word, sexism, anti-Semitism, an admission that his “whole political ideology revolves around harming journalists,” and fantasies about running over black people with his car.
Approached with the evidence, Ricketts said he had no idea who he had hired.
“I am shocked and horrified to learn that this former staffer made these statements and I had no idea he harbored these feelings. He never expressed these views to me,” Ricketts said in a statement. “I unequivocally denounce his hate-filled views towards Jewish people, LGBT people, African Americans, journalists, women, and others. I am particularly concerned about his anti-Semitic statements. Anti-Semitism has no place in society no matter where it hides.”
Bressman, 22, said in an unrelated interview with the Lincoln Journal-Star that he wanted to work on Ricketts’ campaign after state GOP executive director Kenny Zoeller spoke in front of his class. As field director, Bressman oversaw two dozen interns who worked phones and canvassed for Ricketts. Bressman was never employed by the state, according to a Ricketts spokesman, KLKN-TV reported.
On Monday, Bressman told the Journal-Star that he regrets the statements.
“Yes, that was my profile,” he said in a phone interview Monday morning. “I’m not denying it. I understand how they look really bad and are really bad on their face. I regret what I said.”
Bressman’s comments were unearthed as part of a wider leak by independent media organization Unicorn Riot of more than 700,000 posts on Discord chat servers visited and maintained by white nationalist groups like Identity Evropa. The leaks have pulled back the curtain on prominent white nationalists, revealing their assistance in planning the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a counterprotester was killed; a plot to amplify white supremacist Rep. Steve King and keep him in office; and efforts to infiltrate the GOP, among other undertakings.