Government & Politics

Former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka to headline fundraiser for Missouri candidate

Former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka faced scrutiny in his White House role for alleged ties to far-right groups in Europe.
Former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka faced scrutiny in his White House role for alleged ties to far-right groups in Europe. AP

Sebastian Gorka, a former Trump adviser with alleged ties to far-right groups in Hungary, has agreed to headline a fundraiser for one of the Republican candidates seeking to replace U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, according to that candidate’s campaign.

And it’s not Attorney General Josh Hawley, the top GOP recruit in the Missouri Senate race, who has been in contact with former Trump strategist Steve Bannon in recent weeks.

A campaign spokesman for Tony Monetti, a retired Air Force pilot mounting a campaign for Senate, said in an email that Monetti recently met with Gorka.

“As a result of this meeting, Dr. Gorka has agreed to headline a fundraising event on behalf of Lt. Colonel Monetti, candidate for the U.S. Senate in Missouri,” the statement said.

The campaign sent a photograph of Monetti posing with Gorka, who was forced out of his role as a White House adviser in August, but also stated that the picture was not meant “to be construed as an endorsement.”

Gorka, who was born in Britain to Hungarian parents, faced scrutiny in his White House role for alleged ties to far-right groups in Europe. Gorka attended the inaugural ball dressed with medals from the Vitezi Rend, a nationalist group in Hungary that had links to the Nazi regime in Germany during World War II.

Gorka faced widespread criticism in August for suggesting during an interview on MSNBC that the bombing of an Islamic center in Minnesota could have been staged “by the left.”

Monetti’s campaign has not yet disclosed a date or location for the fundraiser with Gorka.

Monetti, a Warrensburg resident and executive director of the nearby Skyhaven Airport, has raised more than $163,000 in contributions for his Senate campaign as of September, according to Federal Election Commission documents.

The race could determine control of the U.S. Senate and is likely to feature appearances from national figures from both parties.

U.S. Sen. Al Franken, a Democrat from Minnesota and former “Saturday Night Live” performer, will be the keynote speaker at a St. Louis dinner for the Missouri Democratic Party next month as the party prepares to defend McCaskill against an onslaught of attacks from Republicans.

Gorka’s possible foray into the race signals the stakes for Republicans. Gorka has campaigned on behalf of Roy Moore, the winner of the GOP primary for the special Senate election in Alabama.

Since leaving the White House, Gorka has joined the MAGA Coalition, an independent group dedicated to promoting Trump’s agenda. The coalition did not immediately respond Wednesday to a question about Gorka’s possible Missouri appearance.

Gorka has previously served as national security editor for Breitbart, the conservative website run by Bannon. In recent weeks, Bannon has promoted the concept of a primary war on candidates backed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Hawley, the only candidate in the Republican race who holds an elected office, has reached out to Bannon and received praise from Breitbart in recent weeks.

Hawley would not say whether he would vote for McConnell as majority leader earlier this week, but he has faced jabs from Democratic incumbent McCaskill that he is McConnell’s candidate.

If Gorka does back Monetti for Senate, it could put him at odds with his close ally Bannon, or it could signal that the Bannon-aligned wing of the Republican Party has not fully embraced Hawley.

Meira Bernstein, spokeswoman for the Missouri Democratic Party, noted Hawley’s evasiveness about McConnell and said “conservatives are rightly questioning where Josh Hawley’s loyalty lies.”

Hawley’s campaign did not immediately comment on the Monetti campaign’s promise of an event with Gorka.

Bryan Lowry: 816-234-4077, @BryanLowry3