White nationalist Billy Roper, former member of the National Alliance, founder of the now-defunct White Revolution, and current coordinator of The Shieldwall Network, defended 2020 Reform Party presidential candidate Joe Wendt, who represented Roper in Roper’s 2012 campaign for the Boston Tea Party’s (BTP) presidential nomination. Wendt has given various excuses for his participation in Roper’s campaign: claiming it was someone else with a similar name, that he had been hacked, that he was pulling a prank on the BTP, a prank on Roper, a practical joke, and, most recently, that he had simply made a mistake,
Before seeking the nomination, Roper’s far right activities and views were well publicized. In 2010, Uncovered Politics chronicled Roper’s write-in campaign for governor of Arkansas and his presidential campaign as the nominee of the now-defunct Nationalist Party. It labeled him the “Whack Job of the week.” The SPLC had (and still retains) a profile on him and the ADL covered him extensively.
With all of this available, in March 2011, Wendt declared, “I have been asked by Mr. Billy Roper to help organize his campaign, and I have accepted that position. Would anyone like to volunteer and help me organize the campaign. [sic]”
Roper explains that Wendt’s participation in his campaign was completely voluntary with no compensation of any kind. He considers Wendt’s work as “more of a Libertarian exercise in support of the first amendment, as I was being heavily censored and faced organized attempts to silence my campaign.”
Wendt, nevertheless, promoted and defended Roper, arguing “Like it or not, everyone is a tad racist; hell I dispise [sic] midgets. Shouldn’t we judge some on their actions rather then [sic] an eccentric personal belief?” He billed Roper as the man to build the BTP into a “strong force,” and ranked him as “better” than 2008 BTP presidential nominee Charles Jay and “1000% better than [then-potential Libertarian presidential candidate] Wayne Allyn Root.”
Despite this, Roper says “I never got the impression that Mr. Wendt shared my more right-wing views, nor did he even pretend to agree with my more radical and extreme perspectives or proposed policies.”
However, whether Wendt’s old issue positions can be considered right wing is open for interpretation. Wendt openly admits he admires right wing Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. He forcefully defended Roper’s Family Consumption Allowance both here on IPR and on the BTP website. He also claimed Roper and his platform were possibly more libertarian than then-Congressman Ron Paul, the 1988 Libertarian Party presidential nominee. In addition, years later, before he ultimately joined the Reform Party, Wendt registered as a Republican and backed former Senator Rick Santorum’s unsuccessful 2016 presidential campaign.
Roper feels voters should look beyond Wendt’s past. He argues that Wendt’s background could be construed as a positive for his 2020 presidential campaign based on the history of the Reform Party.
“[Wendt’s] stand in opposition to the establishment [as Roper’s campaign representative] was in line with the best and most noble traditions of the Reform Party,” explains Roper. “I still remember the furor over Mr. Perot’s ‘You People’ speech to the NAACP. I also recall how he was smeared for embracing members of the New Alliance Party, which was openly anti-Semitic. Certainly we would hope that the same unfair treatment is not given to Mr. Wendt due to his association, however brief and ephemeral, with me.”
Businessman Rocky De La Fuente, the 2016 Reform Party presidential nominee and the current presidential nominee of the Alliance Party with running mate Darcy Richardson, is also seeking the Reform Party presidential nomination. The Reform Party is expected to nominate a ticket in August. It currently has ballot access in Mississippi and Florida.