The new president of the Metropolitan Republican Club, the Upper East Side hangout for the GOP, has openly assisted a far right political group in Germany, according to the Daily Beast, which reports that Ian Reilly "boasted to members about advising" Alternative for Germany (Alternative für Deutschland) "that endorses shooting migrants and forgetting the Holocaust, and flirts with Nazis."
Reilly was elected as the group's president last week. Before the vote, he said, "Last year I founded a consultancy with a friend who is also active in GOP politics. The Yorkville Group is what we called it. It has provided services, not just to statewide candidates like [New York candidate] Jonathan Trichter, but to international political parties like Alternative fur Deutschland.”
The AfD has gained traction in Germany with its populist, anti-immigrant agenda. A spokesman for the party told NPR that its leaders "completely reject any form of right-wing radicalism." But a political scientist at Free University of Berlin counters, "What is interesting is that the dominant right wing of the AfD tries to copy the agitation, the ideology, the rhetoric of the fascists of the Weimar Republic, but they encounter their limits."
Another political scientist, Werner Weidenfeld from University of Munich, told NPR that "The AfD supporters are not all right-wing radicals," and include "'disappointed middle-class' citizens and 'some right-wing extremists.'"
He thinks the AfD's success reflects people's longing for simple solutions to complex issues, like security and artificial intelligence. "We live in an age of complexity," he says, "while at the same time nobody explains the complex connections. So there is confusion, and people become incredibly insecure. They are frustrated, afraid and want a simple answer."
The Daily Beast points out that a former leader of the AfD "advocated for shooting asylum-seekers, while his deputy wrote on Facebook that police should be authorized to shoot at migrant women with children" in 2016; that its members had "marched together with neo-Nazis"; and the party has been "banned from Holocaust remembrance services at the Buchenwald concentration-camp memorial in central Germany after an AfD leader there said Berlin should make a 'make a 180 degree change' to its policy of commemorating the Holocaust."
Reilly invited Proud Boys founder (and Vice vo-founder) Gavin McInnes to speak at the club last fall; after the event Proud Boys members were caught on video beating anti-Fascist protesters. Reilly told the Daily Beast he "supports border security in the U.S., but 'does not agree with' AfD’s stance of shooting migrants. He downplayed his firm’s work with AfD, saying it was "actually not that great."
Reilly's campaign to be president of the club was supported by far-right figurehead Milo Yiannopoulos—which concerns other New York Republicans. J.C. Polanco, a Republican party strategist, told NY1, "We're going to be pushing voters away... Someone who has their endorsement should not be leading any Republican organization in New York City. Our party needs to get away from that and be inclusive."
"I'm very proud to be the first openly gay president of the Metropolitan Republican Club. I reject anything that would mark me as some sort of bigot or supremacist or anything like that," Reilly told NY1.