INDIANAPOLIS – The fallout from revelations that the leader of a Trump-aligned super PAC is the former chairman of a white supremacist group has gripped Rep. Braun’s campaign, as it formerly employed the man – and it hasn’t made clear what they’ll do with the signatures he collected before they fired him.
Reports this week in the Indy Star and on NBC News about Caleb C. Shumaker, the chairman of the Trump-aligned Indiana First PAC who had previously chaired the white supremacist National Youth Front, quickly took on an Indiana Senate connection. An AP story yesterday made clear that Shumaker had previously been employed by Rep. Braun’s campaign as a employee who collected signatures to help Rep. Braun get on the ballot in May. Shumaker’s social media over the past two months had also shown him appearing on Rep. Braun’s behalf at GOP events across Indiana, the report continued.
Despite making clear that the campaign had fired Shumaker, Rep. Braun quickly found himself in a critical national spotlight. The Washington Examinerwondered even after the firing, “how did this staffer make it onto the campaign in the first place? A quick Google search should have been enough to dismiss him.”
Rep. Braun’s move to fire Shumaker doesn’t resolve every question surrounding his ties to the campaign, however. Both the Star and the AP have said that Shumaker helped gather signatures for the campaign. Getting the proper number of signatures for the Senate primary ballot is certainly a tough task – as any member of Senator Young’s campaign can attest – and Rep. Braun’s campaign has said neither how many signatures Shumaker obtained nor what they intend to do with those he collected. Releasing Shumaker from his role gathering signatures but keeping those he’s collected would be similar in consequence to any relationship the campaign might have with any other contract employee the campaign hired for that task.
“The news about Rep. Braun’s campaign’s ties to a white supremacist is deeply troublesome and a reminder that there ought to be no room for bigotry at any part of a campaign,” said Will Baskin-Gerwitz, Senior Media Strategist for the Indiana Democratic Party. “Separating themselves from such a man is a first step, but Rep. Braun’s campaign must promise today that they won’t use a single signature collected by Mr. Shumaker to help with their ballot access efforts. Any campaign that would disavow a white supremacist while still relying on his efforts to make it to the ballot would be outrageously two-faced.”