April 19, 2024

A key figure in the pro-Trump “Stop the Steal” campaign has apologized after being accused of asking teenage boys for sexual pictures.

Ali Alexander has become one of the most ubiquitous figures in the MAGA movement. Trump himself reportedly requested that Alexander speak at his rally before the riot, with his appearance only quashed by a last-minute intervention from Trump’s aides. But this week, Alexander stands at the center of a scandal that raises questions about how powerful men in the far-right treat their younger acolytes.

“This is too gay,” Alexander said in a statement issued Friday night that addressed the allegations in broad terms.

Alexander, who has described himself as bisexual in the past, added that he was “battling with same-sex attraction.”

The budding online scandal has also roiled the pro-Trump and white supremacist “America First” movement, just months after it reached new levels of notoriety after its leader, Nick Fuentes, dined with Donald Trump and rapper Kanye West at Mar-a-Lago. Now Fuentes is facing backlash from his own supporters over whether he ignored warnings that Alexander, his friend and ally, was allegedly soliciting nude pictures from young men within Fuentes’s movement.

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On Friday night, Alexander—who was questioned by the House Jan. 6 Committee about his role organizing a canceled rally dubbed the “Wild Protest” outside the Capitol, which drew crowds to the building right before the riot began—issued a statement Friday offering a general apology.

“I apologize for any inappropriate messages sent over the years,” Alexander wrote, adding later, “When I’ve flirted or others have flirted with me, I’ve flexed my credentials or dropped corny pick up lines. Other times, I’ve been careless and should’ve qualified those coming up to me’s (sic) identities during flirtatious banter at the start.”

Alexander didn’t respond to requests for comment from The Daily Beast. In his statement, he claimed he had also been targeted by false accusations and edited screenshots of his messages, but declined opportunities to point out which accusers or screenshots aren’t legitimate.

Rumors about Alexander’s alleged sexual behavior towards younger men have circulated in conservative online circles since at least 2015. But they reached a new level late last month after Milo Yiannopoulos —the controversial British provocateur and one-time Alexander ally—turned on Alexander after Alexander and Fuentes pushed him out of a potentially lucrative position in West’s nascent presidential campaign.

Yiannopoulos started releasing video interviews and other evidence meant to prove that Alexander sexually propositioned both adult men in their 20s and at least two teenagers. Yiannopoulos, whose own career as a far-right pundit imploded in 2017 after remarks he had made downplaying the seriousness of pedophilia surfaced, claims he has more damaging videos to release about Alexander and Fuentes.

Yiannopoulos claims he’s releasing the video against Alexander because Alexander dropped Yiannopoulos’ name to entice young men. One screenshot purports to show Alexander dangling the prospect of a meeting with Yiannopoulos to a teenage boy.

“The reason I’m doing this is because he used my name,” Yiannopoulos told The Daily Beast.

‘Who Will Be My Arm Candy’

In 2017, Aidan Duncan—a 15-year-old boy in Colorado interested in right-wing politics—sent Alexander nude pictures after the MAGA activist asked him for them, according to an account Duncan gave in a March 2023 podcast appearance.

While Duncan was a high-school sophomore just starting out in politics, Alexander was a 32-year-old with a decade of political work for the Republican Party behind him. And now he was willing to share the connections he had gained through that work with Duncan, as long as the teenager met certain preconditions, including secrecy.

“You’ll have [me] sharing my entire network with you,” Alexander told Duncan, according to Snapchat screenshots reviewed by The Daily Beast.

Originally from Dallas, Alexander pleaded guilty to felony property theft in 2007 and felony credit card abuse in 2008. But despite his criminal background, Alexander—who was then using his legal name, Ali Akbar—managed to rise in the GOP during the online conservative backlash to the Obama administration. Leveraging his position writing for blogs with names like “Hip Hop Republican,” Alexander received funding from billionaire conservative mega-donor Robert Mercer, organized a national club for bloggers that later faced questions about how Alexander spent the money he raised, and hosted an annual party at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

By 2017, Alexander had become an ardent Trump supporter with a passion for social-media trash talk. He became a protege of MAGA figures like Roger Stone and InfoWars chief Alex Jones, and ran with a group of other young MAGA internet provocateurs, including anti-Muslim activist Laura Loomer and blundering smear artist Jacob Wohl.

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But in his messages to Duncan, according to the screenshots, there was one name Alexander dangled as a perk for the teenager if he kept up contact with Alexander: Milo Yiannopoulos. In a Sept. 4, 2017 exchange about an upcoming trip Alexander was planning, Alexander purportedly told Duncan he would introduce the teenager to Yiannopoulos and speculated about whether the boy would be Alexander’s “arm candy” and suggested the boy would have to be “entertaining.”

“Rolling with me?” Alexander wrote, according to the message. “Mostly. I’ll have an Entourage. Depends. Ha. I mean, depends—if it’s me babysitting you during the day, then no. I don’t have kids. If it’s something more entertaining, then maybe. All depends on what we’re up to. No matter what, I’ll let you meet Milo. There’s probably five ppl I’ll introduce to him. But who will be my arm candy—the one with me always in VIP and in/out? Well that is to be determined by the boy who plays his cards the most correct.”

“Arm candy > baby sitting,” Alexander added, according to the screenshot.

Other screenshots show Duncan sending Alexander a picture, which was redacted in the version of the screenshot reviewed by The Daily Beast. Alexander responded with the “face with heart eyes” emoji and asking the teenager which app Alexander should use to send him money.

An undated series of screenshots purport to show Alexander laying out rules for his contact with the teenager, many of them stressing secrecy and a sort of quid pro quo relationship between sexual availability and career opportunities.

“Everything is secret and private,” one rule read. “We’re family.”

Another said that Duncan was “allowed to say no,” but that Alexander might “deprive” him of something unspecified in return.

“Boundaries are cool,” the message reads. “Allowed to say no. However, the less you deprive me of, the less I deprive you of. I’m a big sharing person unless it’s not even.”

Finally, according to the messages, Alexander asked Duncan to “be mindful of each other’s reputation.”

In an appearance last month on a podcast hosted by white supremacist Richard Spencer, Duncan claimed that Alexander wanted him to fly to Texas and “be his intern,” assuring the teenager that the boy could just lie to his parents and say that he was going to a swim meet.

But Alexander had grown frustrated by May 2019, claiming that the still-underage Duncan wouldn’t send him “good jack off material,” according to the screenshots.

“You don’t even send me videos anymore,” Alexander wrote, according to the message. “No good jack off material. Don’t even wanna be my side piece.”

A day later, according to the screenshots, he asked Duncan to come to Texas for a week for an “internship.”

Duncan, now 21, has since become a relatively high-profile member of Fuentes’s racist “America First” movement, going by the name “Smiley.” On Spencer’s podcast, Duncan said he believed Fuentes knew about the rumors about Alexander’s alleged solicitation of nude photos.

“I think Nick is 100 percent aware,” Duncan said on the podcast.

Last Thursday, Duncan posted a statement on Twitter about his communications with Alexander.

“When I was 15 I was naive and desperate,” Duncan wrote. “I thought I had no choice but to cooperate with inappropriate and humiliating requests if I wanted to make it in politics. I figured that was just the nature of the game.”

‘Show Me Your …’

Alexander started messaging 17-year-old Lance Johnston in the summer of 2019, according to Johnston. The floppy-haired teen was a rising star on conservative TikTok communities, amassing more than 140,000 followers under the screenname “Lancevideos.”

Johnston and Alexander started exchanging messages about politics. Johnston claims that a friend warned him early into their communications that Alexander has a history of asking for sexually explicit pictures.

“My friend at the time had told me that he had heard some weird rumors about him,” Johnston told The Daily Beast. “At first I was kind of like ‘I don’t know.’ I was 17, I had just gotten into politics.”

Alexander moved “oddly quickly” towards discussing sex with the teenager, according to Johnston. In July 2019, in what Johnston claims was the night of the White House “Social Media Summit” where Trump feted Alexander and other conservatives as victims of online censorship, the 34-year-old Alexander used the eggplant emoji to ask the teenager for a picture of his penis, according to a screenshot.

“Show me ur [eggplant emoji] ” Alexander wrote, according to the messages.

“What’s that?” Johnston said.

“Omg dick,” Alexander wrote back, according to the picture.

Johnston says he refused and quickly blocked Alexander. Johnston took a screenshot of the exchange, but he was fearful of raising the issue more broadly on the far-right.

“I thought in my mind that he would try his best to try to discredit me and ruin me politically and influentially with my time in politics,” Johnston said.

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Still, a friend of Johnston’s publicized the screenshot, which began circulating in conservative circles. Alexander took to a video livestreaming app to defend himself.

“You can have any conversation you want with someone who’s 17,” Alexander said.

The eggplant-emoji screenshot gained new circulation in far-right circles in 2022, as Alexander and Fuentes achieved prominence as members of West’s entourage. That’s when, Johnston claims, Fuentes asked him to say in a text message to Alexander that the screenshot had been doctored and apologize. Presumably, that text message could then itself be screenshotted and used to discredit Johnston.

“Nick personally asked me to apologize to Ali for supposedly faking the messages,” Johnston said.

But Johnston insists the eggplant screenshot is legitimate. In exchange for disowning the eggplant exchange, according to Johnston, Fuentes and Alexander offered to get him a job in politics.

“Basically they wanted me to lie, apologize to Ali, and then they said they would try to get me a job,” Johnston said.

Fuentes denied Johnston’s claims about him in an email to The Daily Beast.

“I never offered Lance Johnston a job nor did I urge him to disavow that screenshot,” Fuentes wrote.

In a post on the social media app Telegram, Fuentes claimed Johnston was using the screenshot to “extort” Alexander into giving him a job on West’s campaign.

Four years later, Johnston thinks Alexander used his prominence in the MAGA movement for “very creepy” ends.

“No person like Ali should be even near politics,” he said.

‘The Real Victim In This Entire Saga Is Me’

Alexander, who has described his ethnicity as half-Black and half-Arab and says he’s bisexual, might seem like an unusual ally for the avowedly racist and homophobic “America First” movement led by Fuentes.

But Fuentes, a 24-year-old who marched at the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville with a long history of racist, antisemitic, and sexist remarks, has appeared frequently with Alexander at events like a “Stop the Steal” rally in Georgia in 2020.

The pair would later become arguably the most prominent far-right figures in West’s short-lived, virulently antisemitic presidential campaign after Yiannopoulos’s ouster.

In text messages reviewed by The Daily Beast, Yiannopoulos warned Fuentes in broad terms about his ally’s reputation.

“Alexander wants to come to your events to have sex with underage boys,” Yiannopoulos wrote in a January 2022 text to Fuentes. “Snap out of it. “

As the allegations mounted against Alexander over the weekend, Fuentes said he “disavowed” Alexander’s actions and called them “gross,” but accused Yiannopoulos of sitting on the claims until he could use them to get revenge on his rivals from the West campaign. In a Telegram post, Fuentes also blamed Duncan and Johnston for “flirting” with Alexander to advance their careers.

“[Duncan] and Lance were willing to go along flirting with Ali (to varying degrees) without any protest because they thought it would advance their political careers,” Fuentes wrote. “If you are flirting with adult gay men because you think it’s going to land you a job, you know full well what you’re doing and it’s gross. Sorry but even at 15, I would have never sent nudes to an adult gay man. There’s something wrong there.”

Fuentes added that “the real victim in this entire saga is me.” In a self-pitying post, he referred to himself as an “incel”—internet slang for “involuntarily celibate.”

“Sounds like everybody involved got what they wanted,” Fuentes wrote. “Except me, the incel, who is now somehow being blamed for things I had nothing to do with.”

This isn’t the first time Fuentes’s racist group has been dogged by accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior regarding children. In August, Fuentes associate Alejandro Richard Velasquez Gomez was arrested and charged with possessing child pornography. Velasquez, who went by “LatinoZoomer” online and has been photographed with Fuentes, also faces charges over allegedly threatening a conference held by a rival conservative group.

The accusations against Alexander and his apology have already alienated several far-right figures. Anthime Gionet, the far-right provocateur known as “Baked Alaska” who was recently released from a prison term for his role in the Capitol riot, posted a statement Sunday saying he would not “working with Ali in any capacity moving forward.”

“So Ali admitted to sending inappropriate messages and flirting with young boys?” pro-Trump rapper Bryson Gray tweeted. “Disgusting.”

Despite his Friday night apology, Alexander struck a more defiant tone hours later in a bizarre, late-night Telegram audio livestream from what appeared to be a karaoke bar. As an amateur performance of Billy Joel’s “You May Be Right” played in the background, Alexander told an acquaintance that his life had become a “reality show” revolving around one question: “Implode or not implode.”

Asked by someone on the stream whether he wanted to perform karaoke, Alexander demurred.

“I’m in the middle of a scandal,” Alexander said at one point. “I can’t do karaoke. I’m in the middle of a scandal that I’m going to survive.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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