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White Supremacist Stumps for Donald Trump in Robocall to Utahns

Eri Hayward
Eri Hayward of Transmorman listening to a recorded message from white supremacist William Johnson.

Utahns are getting robocalls from a white supremacist asking voters to support Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump. The caller also chides Mitt Romney for his speech at the University of Utah this week, in which he called Trump a “phony” and a danger to America.   

Here’s the message Utahns are finding on their answering machines:

“This call is in support of Donald Trump. My name is William Johnson. I am a farmer and a white nationalist.”

William Johnson is a Los Angeles-based corporate lawyer who’s promoted white supremacist causes since the 1980’s. He’s chair of the American Freedom Party, a political organization aimed at deporting immigrants. He told KUER, Mitt Romney pretends race doesn’t matter.

“Whereas Donald Trump is fine with saying that we need to take measures to secure our borders and preserve the integrity of the founding stock of America,” Johnson says.

One person who received the robocall is Eri Hayward, the subject of the 2013 KUER Videowest short documentary Transmormon.   I asked her if she thought it was ironic that Johnson would call her, a half Japanese, transgender woman.  

“All I could think of is this is completely ridiculous,” Hayward says.

While such calls may seem dismissible, Ryan Lenz with the Southern Poverty Law Center says they are not. He says the political rhetoric that’s happening this election season is giving people like Johnson the perception that the American public is open to this message.

“This is the sort of rallying cry of a movement that feels for the first time in decades it has a legitimate audience,” Lenz says.

William Johnson says he’s gotten more positive feedback to his message from Utahns than other state’s where he’s used similar messages. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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