U.S. senators, mayors fight ‘garbage’ claims they’re linked to KKK

John Cornyn
FILE - In this July 29, 2015 file photo, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. With the support of the National Rifle Association, Cornyn is introducing legislation to reward states that send more information about residents with serious mental problems to the federal background check system for firearms purchasers, the lawmaker said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) – Four U.S. senators are fighting back against unconfirmed, anonymous accusations that they’re affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan.

Internet hacktivist group Anonymous announced an event called “HoodsOff2015,” according to The Hill, with a promise of exposing members and affiliates of the KKK.

On Monday, several prominent lawmakers – including mayors and United States senators – fiercely denied any purported link between themselves and the white supremacy group, as found in the Anonymous-related documents.

According to media reports, Sens. Dan Coats (R-Ind.), John Cornyn (R-Tex.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) were all named in the data dump.

Senators: KKK Reports are “Garbage”

Indiana Sen. Dan Coats trashed the reports, calling them “Internet garbage.” Coats tweeted that he, “deplore[s] all forms of racial discrimination.”

The Senate’s second highest-ranking member, Republican Whip John Cornyn of Texas, refuted the very foundation of the accusations, pointing out several apparent holes in the claims. Cornyn’s spokesman wrote:

None of these emails or phone numbers are associated with Sen. Cornyn, and many of the phone numbers can be traced to publically available phone numbers, like (877) 336-7200, which is the number of contact for the Democratic National Committee.

Sen. Isakson of Georgia’s press secretary, Amanda Maddox, pushed back in no uncertain terms, writing, “This information is absolutely false and comes from an unverified source. Senator Isakson has never been affiliated with the KKK.” (Emphasis not added)

North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis’s spokesman wholly dismissed the allegation with a single sentence: “The claim is ridiculous and completely false.”

Two well-known mayors were also dragged into the KKK controversy Monday, swiftly swatting down any notion that they’ve ever been connected to the racial hate group.

Mayor Madeline Rogero of Knoxville, Tenn., responded, “Don’t be ridiculous … I have spent decades working for causes of social justice and equality.” WATE-TV published Rogero’s statement in full.

Norfolk, Va., Mayor Paul Fraim condemned the report, calling it, “Absolutely false and defamatory.” WAVY-TV ran Fraim’s full refutation, where he rebuked the “hateful” accusation.

Anonymous Sources

While the politically explosive element of these claims garnered immediate headlines and Twitter traffic, pinpointing the source of the claims is anything but precise.

Anonymous is amorphous and unaccountable for members’ individual – and collective – claims.

Therein lies the difficulty of confirming crucial information or demanding a substantive paper trail.

As of this report, there is no concrete evidence to substantiate these claims.

Additional reporting by Alex Schuman

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