Senate candidate Josh Mandel backs ‘pizzagate’ promoter, dings anti-hate group

FILE – In this Oct. 27, 2012, file photo, Ohio state Treasurer Josh Mandel, the Republican nominee challenging the re-election bid of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, speaks before a campaign rally for U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. (AP Photo/Phil Long, File)

COLUMBUS (AP) — Republican U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel has sided on social media with the right-wing personality behind the online conspiracy theory dubbed “pizzagate.”

FILE – In this June 25, 2017, file photo, Mike Cernovich, a right-wing author and attorney who has promoted a conspiracy theory about Democrats running a child-sex slavery ring from a Washington pizza restaurant’s basement, speaks during a rally outside the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Mandel, seeking an election rematch against Democrat Sherrod Brown, retweeted a post Thursday by Mike Cernovich that accused the Anti-Defamation League of “inciting terrorism.”

The anti-hate league’s new report identified Cernovich as part of the “alt-lite” movement. The group says such activists reject overtly white supremacist ideology but embrace misogyny and xenophobia.

Mandel backed Cernovich and tweeted the league had become “a partisan witch-hunt group targeting people for political beliefs.” On Friday, Mandel characterized the report as a “hit list.”

The league says it is calling out people who engage in anti-Semitism and bigotry regardless of their background or party.

“Pizzagate” is an unfounded conspiracy theory that claims Democrats harbor child sex slaves at a pizza restaurant.

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