A post on Kentucky Senate candidate Matt Bevin’s Facebook page last September shows the candidate sitting in a sunny room with a group of people, with the caption reading: “Enjoying time with the John Birch Society in Union, Ky.” One comment reads, “that’s quite a gathering of Birchers.”
Bevin is challenging Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky’s Republican Senate primary, which takes place May 20.
The John Birch Society has quite a reputation: Its founder believed President Dwight Eisenhower was controlled by Communists, as was half or more of the U.S. government in the early 1960s. The group’s reputation for paranoia and conspiracy theories led to its being shunned by mainstream conservatives. National Review’s founder, William F. Buckley Jr., led the efforts to excommunicate the group from the conservative movement.
Since then, the organization has continued to peddle nutty theories: An article published on its website in January claimed that “the communist regime ruling Russia has been doing mind-control experiments for decades — and still is today” and suggested that the Department of Homeland Security is interested in mind control as well.
Rachel Semmel, a spokesman for Bevin, emphasizes that the meeting was much more respectable than it sounds and was attended by many mainstream business and political figures.
She tells NRO the following: “In one of his hundreds of meetings last fall, Matt attended one with dozens of local Republican activists and several elected officials in northern Kentucky, including representatives from Rep. [Tom] Massie and Sen. [Rand] Paul’s offices. He was meeting with these local businessmen and officials to talk about important issues facing Kentucky.”
(The attendee from Senator Rand Paul’s office now works for the Bevin campaign.)