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White nationalist group making robocalls throughout Utah that stump for Trump

(KSL-TV)



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY — Robocalls that slam Mitt Romney and stump for Donald Trump have been hitting phone lines across the state of Utah and originate from a white nationalist group.

"The American National Super PAC makes this call in support of Donald Trump," the recorded message begins. "My name is William Johnson, I am a farmer and a white nationalist."

Johnson, chairman of the American Freedom Party, told NBC News he created the robocall to attack Romney, after his address at the University of Utah that blasted the current GOP frontrunner.

"Mitt Romney has viciously attacked Donald Trump," the recorded message states. "Mitt Romney and his establishment conservatives are both mean-spirited and dishonest."

The recording ends with a prompting to "vote Trump," and then a phone number.

"You know, usually around election season, I get phone calls," West Jordan resident Trevor Lambourne said. "I was surprised, really."

Lambourne said he called the number because he thought he heard Johnson identify himself as a "white supremacist" and wasn't sure if he heard it right.

Lambourne's personal recording of the phone call showed Johnson took issue with the label.

"No, that's kind of a slur, a swear word," Johnson said. "The term should be, like, white nationalist or white separatist. Those are neutral terms."

Johnson acknowledged to Lambourne he was placing robocalls in Utah because of Romney's message.

During multiple attempts to reach Johnson Friday, his phone went immediately to voicemail and the voicemail box was full.

Johnson also did not respond via text.

"The recipients can take the calls for what they are, basically racist calls," said Tim Chambless, associate professor of political science at the University of Utah.

Chambless said Trump may have recently disavowed the Ku Klux Klan, but policy stances that include building a wall to stop illegal immigration from Mexico and prohibiting Muslim immigration may invite white nationalist support.

"There's a message being sent there of superiority or differentiation which is contrary to the spirit of America," Chambless said.

Still, Chambless said the robocalls were likely to have a chilling effect on many potential Trump voters.

"[It's] disgusting that they would stump for anyone, I think," Lambourne said. "That's what I told him when I called him back."

Lambourne, a registered Democrat, said Trump wasn't an option for him anyway.

He said he simply didn't like the message that came in unsolicited on his phone.

"I wouldn't want my kids to be discriminated against because of the color of their skin, you know, and so I don't think anybody else should," Lambourne said.

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Andrew Adams

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