The appearances of several speakers at this week’s Republican National Convention have been surrounded by controversy over social media comments and actions from their past.
Raising questions about whether and how the RNC vetted its speakers before they were placed on national television.
The GOP scrapped one planned appearance hours before she was set to speak Tuesday night.
Mary Ann Mendoza was removed from that night’s lineup after earlier in the day she retweeted a thread touting an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory about a Jewish plan to control the world.
But others have gone forward, despite a history of incendiary social media posts and in some cases questions about the accuracy of their stories.
In one case, anti-abortion activist Abby Johnson reiterated on Twitter shortly before her speech was aired that she believes that if a husband and wife disagree on who to vote for, the husband should have the final say.
Here’s a look at the controversies surrounding the speakers and Mendoza:
A press release from the Trump campaign on Monday night’s convention speakers describes Natalie Harp as “a beneficiary of President Trump’s 2018 Right to Try Act.”
Harp, who is also an advisory board member for the campaign, has thanked Trump for supporting policies that helped her survive a rare form of cancer.
Specifically, Harp credits the Right to Try law, which was signed in May 2018, with saving her life. The law allows patients to access treatments that have “not been approved or licensed by the FDA for any use”.
The President tweeted about her story last year, after Harp appeared on Fox News. Shortly thereafter, Harp was invited on stage in the middle of Trump’s remarks at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in June 2019 to share her experience.
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But some experts have expressed doubt that the Right to Try law was actually a factor in her treatment.
The treatment Harp says she received — “an FDA-approved immunotherapy drug for an unapproved use” — is a practice the FDA calls “off-label use.”
The exact timing of Harp’s treatment is unclear. The Goldwater institute, a conservative think tank which has been one of the foremost advocates for Right to Try, notes that no special permission is needed for the kind of off-label use of a drug that Harp described, so it does not qualify for Right to Try.
Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who spoke at the RNC Monday evening, drew national attention in late June after the President retweeted a viral video in which the couple can be seen brandishing guns outside their mansion in St.
Louis, as protesters walk by on their way to the mayor’s residence on a nearby street. The McCloskeys have since been charged with unlawful use of a weapon, which is a felony.
The couple has defended their actions, claiming they were in imminent fear for their lives, though protesters have maintained they were peaceful and non-violent. On , Mark McCloskey told Chris Cuomo “I was assaulted, and I was in imminent fear that they would run me over, kill me, burn my house.”
Cuomo acknowledged that the protesters likely broke the law by going through a private gate and that McCloskey was using the civil definition of assault, “which is that you had the apprehension that something bad was going to happen to you, but nothing did.”
Mark McCloskey further claimed “[t]he reason why they did not get up my steps was that my wife and I were there with weapons to keep them off our steps,” but did not respond when Cuomo asked if he had any proof of that the protesters had been approaching the steps of their house before he and his wife displayed their weapons.
According to analysis of video footage of the event by St Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Jeremy Kohler, the protesters do not seem to be on the McCloskeys’ property at the time Mark McCloskey was holding a rifle and calling for the protesters to leave his neighborhood.
Mark McCloskey also disputes the protesters’ claim that they came through his private property looking for the Mayor’s house, because the Mayor’s residence cannot be reached through his neighborhood. A St.
Louis city official confirmed that the street the protestors were going down does not reach the mayor’s house, which is on a public road.
has previously reported that about 500 protesters were cutting through the McCloskeys’ neighborhood to bypass road closures nearby that blocked access to the mayor’s home, according to Daniel Shular, a local reporter who watched the incident unfold.
The McCloskeys have a history of conflicts over private property. They filed a lawsuit to obtain their house in 1988, have sued neighbors for aesthetic changes and in 2013, Mark McCloskey destroyed beehives that a local Jewish congregation had placed just outside the wall of his home.
The rabbi said they had intended to harvest the honey for Rosh Hashanah.
Abby Johnson is an anti-abortion activist who spoke at the RNC on Tuesday evening.
Shortly before her appearance, reporters and commentators highlighted her tweets in support of “household voting” — which, as Johnson defined it, is the idea that each household would get one vote, and the husband would determine for whom it is cast. Johnson on Tuesday reiterated her position, tweeting: “Yes.
So shocking! A husband and wife who are in agreement and a wife who honors her husband as the head of the home. Gasp!! What a weird, biblical concept!!”There are also questions about the accuracy of her story.
Johnson was a director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas who said she changed her views in 2009 and became an anti-abortion rights activist after assisting in an abortion procedure.
Details of her conversion story have been contested by some outlets, including a 2010 investigative piece and a follow-up article in Texas Monthly. The articles raise doubt over some aspects of Johnson’s story and suggest that she may have left Planned Parenthood for other workplace related reasons.
Johnson disputed Texas Monthly’s piece years later on the conservative website the Federalist. Texas Monthly responded to that article, arguing that inaccuracies in her story remained.
Mary Ann Mendoza
Mendoza’s cancellation followed a report from the Daily Beast on a Twitter thread she posted earlier that same day, which touting an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory about a Jewish plan to control the world.
Mendoza was scheduled to speak about her son who died in 2014 after being hit by a drunk driver who was an undocumented immigrant.She later deleted the tweet and claimed that she hadn’t read “every post within the thread.
“”My apologies for not paying attention to the intent of the whole message,” Mendoza said. “That does not reflect my feelings or personal thoughts whatsoever.”