STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WTAJ) — A group of State College elected officials and faith leaders gathered on Tuesday to condemn Republican State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano’s ties to the social media platform, Gab.
The site’s founder, Andrew Torba, is known for having antisemitic views.
“The Borough of State College is a diverse community, religiously and otherwise,” State College Borough Council President Jesse Barlow said. “Religious bigotry is an afront to our community values.”
Tuesday’s event follows reports of payments to the website by Mastriano’s campaign. The campaign paid Gab $5,000 in April for consulting services.
“This is not just an attack on Jews, it is an attack on all of us,” Past President of Congregation Brit Shalom in State College, Evan Myers, said.
Mastriano was also featured on the site and endorsed by Torba. Gab was previously used by the accused Tree of Life Synagogue shooter before the 2018 attacks.
“Mastriano’s connection to such a site tells us a lot about who he is,” said Suzanne Weinstein, the President of the Board at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Centre County.
State College Mayor Ezra Nanes, who is Jewish, spoke at the event organized by the campaign of Mastriano’s opponent, Josh Shapiro. Shapiro is also Jewish.
“I ask Doug Mastriano, “Do I, a Jew, have any less right than you to be heard?'” Nanes said. “‘If you believe in our country, why do you deny to others the American rights that you claim for yourself?’”
Barlow said he sees Mastriano’s campaign expenditure as an endorsement of Gab.
“Senator Mastriano must repudiate Mr. Torba and all of his bigoted ideas,” Barlow said. “Mr. Mastriano, denounce hate, denounce this site, denounce Mr. Torba.”
Mastriano’s Gab page has been removed. In a statement on Twitter, Mastriano said, “Andrew Torba doesn’t speak for me or my campaign. I reject antisemitism in any form.”
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Paul Takac, the Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania’s 82nd District, said discrimination and hatred will not stand in State College.
“Antisemitism has no place in Pennsylvania or anywhere.”