Miami Congressman Diaz-Balart Posts Photo With Alt-Right "Proud Boy"

Mario Diaz-Balart / Twitter
Miami Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart is not exactly known in local political circles for being particularly bright. But in what might be the single most-boneheaded thing he's done ever, the congressman on Tuesday tweeted out a photograph of himself at an anti-Nicaraguan-President Ortega rally — posing with a man in a Trump hat and "Proud Boys" T-shirt.

The "Proud Boys," of course, are a group of alt-right, quasi-fascist street thugs who mere days ago showed up to a "Patriot Prayer" rally in Portland that devolved into a violent brawl with Antifa counterprotesters. (Police wound up turning on Leftists and nearly killed one counterprotester.) The Proud Boys were also present at the Charlottesville "Unite the Right" rally last August, where a white supremacist killed a civil-rights counterprotester, Heather Heyer, with a car. The Proud Boys were founded by Gavin McInnes, who also started Vice News but "left" the publication as he morphed into a racist and anti-Semitic troll. The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the Proud Boys as a "hate group" and as "extremists."

"Proud to support the Nicaraguan community in #SoFla denouncing the crimes of the #Ortega regime and demanding the end of the violence, as well as the convening of free elections under international supervision," the congressman tweeted Tuesday in Spanish.

His spokesperson, Katrina V. Brown, declined to comment on the fact that the congressman was posing with an open alt-right member and instead lobbed an insult at New Times.

"If the Miami New Times ever ceases to be a propaganda instrument for the radical left, we will respond to its inquiries," she said via email.

The Proud Boys technically disavow outright white supremacy and the "alt-right" moniker, but do refer to themselves as "Western chauvinists" and say they are against "feminism" and feeling "white guilt." They also constantly show up at white-nationalist rallies, and their members are frequently outed as having ties to more hardcore forms of racism and neo-Nazism. Jason Kessler, an avowed white supremacist who helped organize the Unite the Right rally, was filmed in 2017 being initiated into the Proud Boys.

The group is also routinely mocked for just being generally dumb: A central tenet of the Proud Boy credo is to abstain from masturbating more than once per month (unless in the presence of a woman) to preserve one's apparent "life force" or something like that. They almost exclusively wear black-and-yellow Fred Perry polo shirts and, as such, often resemble fat, angry bumblebees. The Boys also show up to neo-Nazi rallies dressed like overweight superheroes and/or stone-cold idiots:
The unidentified man in Diaz-Balart's tweet has been photographed with the official Miami "Vice City Proud Boys" group on Instagram. The Miami Proud Boys were present at the aforementioned Patriot Prayer rally in Portland and the group's leader, Enrique Tarrio, spoke to a reporter from the Nation. (Tarrio has also posed for photographs with McInnes and alt-right agitator Milo Yiannopoulos.)

The Proud Boy who met with Diaz-Balart describes himself online as a military veteran and National Rifle Association "certified pistol instructor." He's repeatedly taken photographs with Miami-Dade County Republican Party members and appears to be involved with Carla Spalding's campaign for Florida's 23rd Congressional District, a seat currently occupied by Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Spalding has been endorsed by Roger Stone and has appeared on InfoWars, so it's perhaps not surprising that her campaign seems to include a Proud Boy, as well.

The man in question did not immediately respond to a Facebook message from New Times.

The man's shirt also shouts out CompoundMedia, the radio network run by racist shock-jock Anthony Cumia. Cumia was famously fired from the SiriusXM "Opie and Anthony" morning-zoo radio program after going on a racist, sexist, and violent Twitter rant yelling at a random black woman he met on the New York City streets. Cumia then appeared on a white-nationalist radio show and has since become something of a media hero to the alt-right.

So yeah, Diaz-Balart, who is running for reelection against Democrat Mary Barzee-Flores, is a fool. Diaz-Balart — who is Fidel Castro's nephew and spends most of his waking hours yelling at "dictators" — probably ought to explain why he's apparently cool with snapping photos next to someone in a neofascist T-shirt.

Update: The Miami Proud Boys have Tweeted and confirmed that the man in the photo above is a member of their group. In a separate post, the group called this reporter a "useless journo."

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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.