Proud Boys Leader Has Raised Basically No Money for Miami Congressional Run

Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio has announced a run for Congress.
Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio has announced a run for Congress. Photo by Karli Evans
Fundraising for a political campaign is apparently not that easy when you and all of your closest friends have been kicked off a host of websites and credit card platforms for being in a neofascist street gang with close links to white nationalists and people who commit acts of violence and seem to enjoy sharing racial slurs online.

Just ask Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio, the Miami-based head of the pro-Trump, street-fighting Proud Boys, who announced November 1 a run for U.S. Congress. According to documents filed with the federal government last week, Tarrio has raised almost no money in the three months since announcing his candidacy for Florida's 27th congressional district, which is held by Democrat Donna Shalala.

January 30, Tarrio submitted his federal paperwork for the last quarter of 2019 — and reported zero itemized contributions. In a statement to the Federal Elections Commission, Tarrio said his campaign committee has not received more than $5,000 and therefore does not need to report contributions to the government yet.

"This Committee has not yet exceeded the $5,000 reporting threshold that would trigger the Committee's reporting responsibilities under the Act," his campaign wrote.

Reached by phone, Tarrio claimed he hasn't been actively fundraising since he announced his candidacy roughly 90 days ago. That might not be the sharpest of campaign strategies, because his significantly more well-funded Republican opponent, Maria Elvira Salazar, reported raising $365,000 in the fourth quarter of 2019. But even Salazar's total contributions pale in comparison to Shalala's in that timeframe: In the last three months of 2019, Shalala pulled in $600,000. Salazar is sitting with $717,000 in cash, while Shalala has a $1.2 million war chest. Meanwhile, Tarrio has, in political terms, basically no money with six months to go before the August primaries.

Tarrio tells New Times he has simply not made much of a fundraising push yet but has raised "$2,500 to $2,900" so far. (Anyone, however, can freely donate on his website, and it seems like no one has been excited enough to click the "donate $5,600 for the primary and general election" or "$11,200 couple's max donation" buttons.)

"I only held my first fundraising event on the 25th of January," he says. "I hadn't done a lot of Facebook shares or media. I didn't advertise yet or anything. I've basically just had those stories that said I'm running."

Tarrio has also been kicked off nearly every social media platform because he's been spending his free time running a violent street gang. He's banned from Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, though he's flouting his Facebook ban once again by posting under the name "Rigoberto Tarrio." (He will likely be booted again.)

The Proud Boys claim the bans are unfair, but as New Times recounted in 2018, members of the group had been spending loads of time throwing around the N-word, racist memes, Holocaust denial jokes, and even one seemingly pro-Harvey Weinstein meme online before their ban. The group — started by Vice founder Gavin McInnes to "glorify" Western men — also has repeatedly been caught committing violence or endorsing white nationalism. (The group "disavowed" one such member, Jovanni "Jovi Val" Valle, after he endorsed neo-Nazism.) Other members have been sent to prison for beating people in Manhattan and been caught in chat logs plotting violence. In one case, a Proud Boy was accused of using a sword to murder his brother. Tarrio himself attended the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a white nationalist killed a leftist protester. Despite those concerns, Donald Trump acolyte Roger Stone admitted in court in 2019 that he hd employed Tarrio and other Florida Proud Boys to help run his social media and PR campaigns.

Last year, Chase Bank booted Tarrio from its platform and closed his bank account. Tarrio is also banned from using the credit card payment processor Stripe; he says numerous Republican Party fundraising platforms use the service.

"It's a mix of me starting late and having been de-platformed from the fundraising platforms," he says of his cash-strapped campaign coffers. "I haven't even asked my family for money yet. I mean, family and friends, that's the most important thing for them to support you, right?"

Perhaps he can ask his fellow Proud Boys for a loan.
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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.