Lauren Windsor, a Democrat operative, admitted her involvement in Friday’s failed tiki torch plot that attempted to smear Republican Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin as a white supremacist.
Windsor often poses undercover as a conservative activist to dupe politicians into making controversial comments.
“In my capacity as a communications consultant, I worked w @ProjectLincoln to coordinate today’s Youngkin action in Charlottesville,” Windsor tweeted. “I join them in the fight to defend our democracy from rightwing extremists and call for Glenn Youngkin to denounce Trump’s ‘very fine people.”
In my capacity as a communications consultant, I worked w @ProjectLincoln to coordinate today's Youngkin action in Charlottesville. I join them in the fight to defend our democracy from rightwing extremists and call for Glenn Youngkin to denounce Trump’s ‘very fine people.
— Lauren Windsor (@lawindsor) October 29, 2021
The tiki torch hoax alluded to the 2017 Charlottesville protests by having five people hold tiki torches while posing in front of Glenn Youngkin’s campaign bus.
This stunt attempted to push the false narrative that Youngkin’s candidacy is synonymous with racism and white supremacy.
Reporters and politicians were quick to highlight the tiki hoax, giving the stunt credibility. However, many users on social media questioned its authenticity.
These men approached @GlennYoungkin’s bus as it pulled up saying what sounded like, “We’re all in for Glenn.” Here they are standing in front of the bus as his campaign event at Guadalajara started.@NBC29 pic.twitter.com/l681ejyBjc
— Elizabeth Holmes (@holmes_reports) October 29, 2021
I demand all of these white nationalists be fired from their jobs at the Virginia Democrat Party immediately! https://t.co/rIq8aU0hwl
— Tim Young (@TimRunsHisMouth) October 29, 2021
The Democrat Party of Virginia then denied that it or its “coordinated partners” or “affiliates” played any role in the tiki stunt.
Statement on Glenn Youngkin’s bus stop earlier today: pic.twitter.com/Hw0svCAW9W
— Andrew Whitley (@AndrewWhitleyVA) October 29, 2021
Ultimately, the pro-Democrat Lincoln Project owned up to staging the event. “The Lincoln Project has run advertisements highlighting the hate unleashed in Charlottesville as well as Glenn Youngkin’s continued failure to denounce Donald Trump’s ‘very fine people on both sides,’” the Lincoln Project said in a statement.
Lincoln Project claims credit for the "white supremacist" stunt at Youngkin's campaign event today. pic.twitter.com/h18Sfk5AUC
— John McCormack (@McCormackJohn) October 29, 2021
“Today’s demonstration was our way of reminding Virginians what happened in Charlottesville four years ago, the Republican Party’s embrace of those values, and Glenn Youngkin’s failure to condemn it,” the statement continued.
However, Windsor and the Lincoln Project’s embrace of the “very fine people” quote takes former President Trump’s comments out of context, as debunked in the president’s second impeachment trial. Moreover, a record of Trump’s entire statement about Charlottesville reveals Trump said there “were very fine people on both sides,” while admitting there were “some very bad people in that group”:
Excuse me, excuse me. They didn’t put themselves — and you had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. You had people in that group. Excuse me, excuse me. I saw the same pictures as you did. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.
Friday’s tiki torch hoax is not the publicity McAuliffe’s campaign hopes for going into the final weekend of the election season, trailing Youngkin in polls.
“What happened today is disgusting and distasteful and we condemn it in the strongest terms. Those involved should immediately apologize,” McAuliffe campaign manager Chris Bolling told Vice News in a statement.
Youngkin leads McAuliffe in the gubernatorial race by one point, according to a poll released Friday.