As recently as 2003, the president of the Greater Fort Bend County Tea Party had a very different title: director of propaganda for the American Fascist Party.Just curious. Uh-huh. Thought he would "blow the lid off of this" by getting involved, he told the Tribune. He said it was just a "funny story."
James Ives, a prominent Tea Party activist who has hosted statewide rallies and political debates and has been a regular contributor on conservative radio, was the AFP's fourth in command, commenting about the party’s principles on a fascist message board. An image of Ives in what appears to be a black uniform with yellow shoulder patches can be seen in a 2006 promotional video for the party.
Ives tells a more nuanced story; the Richmond, Texas, resident says he stumbled across the fascist party — which supports extreme right-wing authoritarian regimes — online in the early 2000s as an “amateur political science student and frustrated novelist” and was merely curious.
In the promotional video, which I won't link but can be found at youtube.com/watch?v=9aqXEN5iDpQ, you can see Ives in a black uniform at the 36-second mark. He claims the uniform was Photoshopped on.
The group's founder, Seth Tyrssen, ran for president in 2004 and self-published a book, The New Fascism, in 2009.
Ives admitted to the Tribune that he was, in fact, the group's propaganda director because nobody else volunteered for the post. But he claimed that the fascist group was just "a chat room with a fancy title." I also won't link it, but the message board can be found at //groups.yahoo.com/group/americanfascistparty/messages/340. One of Ives's sprinkling of messages there begins:
Gentlemen, first let me say that I am proud to be a member, no, VERY proud to be a member of the American Fascist Party. In the growth of this group over a short time, there can truly be said to be signs of light in the tunnel of recent national history. THE VERY FACT THAT SUCH A GROUP CAN GET TOGETHER AT ALL, AND FLOURISH, SAYS THAT THERE IS STILL LIFE IN THE FURROWS AND HILLS, THE BAYOUS AND GLENS OF OUR AMERICA!While what apparently was a brief connection to a short-lived organization nearly a decade ago might not bother some people, not everyone feels that way:
State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, whose radio station has regularly hosted Ives’ political commentaries in recent years, said that if his past connections to the American Fascist Party were legitimate, the station would no longer put him on air. Patrick said Ives had “never been on our payroll, never been an employee.” He called the promotional video and online postings “very disturbing, no matter how far in the past it is.” [...]Yep. Hard to avoid rubbing elbows with wackos when you're one yourself.
Debra Medina, a well-known Tea Party activist who ran against Gov. Rick Perry in the 2010 Republican primary, said she isn’t familiar with Ives and isn’t in a position to judge his dealings with the fascist group. But she said part of the challenge of working with the grassroots is that it’s “so hard to know who you’re working with sometimes.”