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State Department Staffer Suspended After Being Outed as Contributor to White Supremacist Forums

According to a Hatewatch report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, Matthew Gebert has also appeared on far-right podcasts

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 09:  A view of the State Department seal on the podium before Romanian President Klaus Iohannis and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appear for a photo opportunity at the State Department, June 9, 2017 in Washington, DC. Iohannis is also scheduled to meet with President Donald Trump on Friday afternoon. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Civil rights group the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified State Department official Matthew Q. Gebert, a foreign affairs officer in the department’s Bureau of Energy Resources, as an attendee of the 2017 Charlottesville Unite the Right rally and a contributor to various white supremacist forums on the internet, according to a Hatewatch report posted on Wednesday, August 7th.

According to the report, Gebert, who has been working at the State Department since about 2013, operated under the pseudonym “Coach Finstock” and is a frequent poster on white nationalist forums like The Right Stuff, an online community led by white nationalist podcaster Mike Peinovich, also known as Mike Enoch. Gebert recently appeared on the white nationalist podcast The Fatherland and bragged about having attended the rally in a disguise, boasting that he managed to leave “in one piece.” In one thread, Gebert wrote that he “got into this [movement] and off the conservative reservation in 2015,” or about two years into his tenure at the state department.

The leftist media collective Unicorn Riot, which closely tracks white nationalist organizing, also reported that Gebert had a Discord chat handle, Coach – DC, which linked directly to an account Hatewatch identified as Gebert’s Twitter. Coach – DC posted on two far-right Discord servers: Charlottesville 2.0, the server that was used to organize the 2017 Charlottesville, Virginia, Unite the Right rally, in which one counter-protester was killed when a white supremacist drove a car into a crowd; and Vibrant Diversity, in which he posted memes of Hitler and Mussolini, as well as a photo of a swastika-shaped cookie with the caption “From our pool party last night. Plate was stacked.”

Sources close to Gebert also confirmed to Hatewatch that he and his wife had invited many prominent white nationalists over to his home for dinner and various holiday events, including Peinovich and white nationalist podcaster Marcus Halberstram. In one 2017 interview he did with another neo-Nazi podcast, in which he was interviewed under his pseudonym Coach Finstock, he appeared to be aware that his political leanings endangered his professional standing, saying, “There are bigger things than a career and a paycheck, and I don’t want to lose mine. I am prepared to lose mine. Because this is the most important thing to me in my life … in tandem with my family, of course.” Hatewatch played recordings of the podcasts for two of Gebert’s neighbors, who were able to identify Gebert’s voice: “I wanted to tell you really badly that it wasn’t him, but I can’t tell you it’s not him. Because, boy, that sure sounds like him,” one of the neighbors said.

Following the publication of the Hatewatch report, the State Department initially refused to comment on whether Gebert would face disciplinary action, telling Hatewatch instead that the department was “committed to providing a workplace that is free from discriminatory harassment and investigates alleged violations of laws, regulations, or Department policies, taking disciplinary action when appropriate.” According to Politico, however, two sources close to the state department have confirmed that Gebert has been suspended following the Hatewatch report. His former boss, Amos Hochstein, who supervised Gebert during his tenure as coordinator for the State Department’s international energy affairs, told Politico he found it “inconceivable” that Gebert could’ve gotten security clearance not once, but twice. (The State Department conducts security screenings upon hiring and again after an employee has worked there for five years, according to Hochstein.)

“If Gebert was Muslim or a person of color, it would have been caught,” Hochstein said. “Neo-Nazis are not all shaved heads and tattoos, they are hiding in plain sight. I’m horrified Gebert worked for me at the State Department.“

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