State Department suspends energy staffer linked to white supremacist group
The State Department has put on leave an employee of its energy bureau after reports that he has been an active member of a white supremacist group for more than five years, two sources familiar with the situation said on Thursday.
Matthew Gebert, a foreign affairs officer for the department’s Bureau of Energy Resources, was linked to the Washington D.C.-area chapter of a white supremacist organization and published racist propaganda online, according to a report published Wednesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate speech.
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In a May 2018 episode of a white nationalist podcast, Gebert, speaking under a pseudonym, called for white people to establish “a country of our own with nukes, and we will retake this thing lickety split,” according to the SPLC report.
“We need a country founded for white people with a nuclear deterrent. And you watch how the world trembles,” the report quoted him saying.
Attempts to contact Gebert were unsuccessful. Twitter accounts that SPLC described in its report as belonging to Gebert and that have posted anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi messages were deleted as of Wednesday afternoon.
A State Department spokesperson did not reply to questions about Gebert‘s employment status.
“The Department of State cannot comment on personnel issues but is committed to providing an inclusive workplace,” a department spokesperson said.
Gebert started working at the bureau as a career employee in 2013, according to a posting in the George Washington alumni magazine the SPLC cited. He worked on energy issues involving Pakistan and India during his time there, former co-workers told POLITICO.
Former State Department officials expressed surprise that security screenings had not flagged Gebert’s involvement with the hate groups. Gebert would have undergone a routine screening before starting his position and another at his five-year work anniversary, said Amos Hochstein, who served as special envoy and coordinator for the State Department’s international energy affairs from 2014 to 2017 and was Gebert’s boss.
“It is inconceivable he got security clearance twice,” Hochstein told POLITICO. “If Gebert was Muslim or a person of color, it would have been caught. Neo-Nazis are not all shaved heads and tattoos, they are hiding in plain sight. I’m horrified Gebert worked for me at the State Department.“
A State Department spokesman did not respond to questions about the department’s security clearance practices.