Local GOP committees ask voters to write-in controversial, extremist militia leader for Allegheny County Sheriff | Politics | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Local GOP committees ask voters to write-in controversial, extremist militia leader for Allegheny County Sheriff

click to enlarge Local GOP committees ask voters to write-in controversial, extremist militia leader for Allegheny County Sheriff (4)
Screenshot taken from Facebook
Oakmont GOP Committee chair Veronica Steinkirchner with Matt Wakulik in a photo posted to Facebook on Oct. 30
The Iron City Citizens Response Unit is an extremist militia group based in the Pittsburgh area that has generated a lot of controversy over the years, including associations with symbols linked to white nationalism, and having several Republican political candidates dissociate with the militia group after initially praising them.

And now, two local Republican committees in Allegheny County are asking voters to write-in the head of the militia group, Matt Wakulik, for Allegheny County Sheriff. Kevin Kraus is both the Democratic and Republican nominee for Allegheny County Sheriff for the 2021 election.
click to enlarge Local GOP committees ask voters to write-in controversial, extremist militia leader for Allegheny County Sheriff (2)
Screenshot taken from Facebook
Matt Wakulik with Oakmont GOP Committee chair Veronica Steinkirchner in an Oct. 30 post encouraging voters to write-in Wakulik for Allegheny County Sheriff.
In a photo posted to Facebook on Oct. 30, the Oakmont GOP Committee seemingly endorsed Wakulik’s apparent write-in campaign. “Matt Wakulik write in for Allegheny County Sheriff” reads text next to a photo of Wakulik and Oakmont GOP Committee chair Veronica Steinkirchner.

When reached, the Oakmont GOP Committee declined to comment on the post.

And on Nov. 1, the Pittsburgh 3rd City Council District Republican Committee posted on the committee’s Facebook page calling for voters to write-in Wakulik for sheriff.

click to enlarge Local GOP committees ask voters to write-in controversial, extremist militia leader for Allegheny County Sheriff (3)
Screenshot taken from Facebook
A Nov. 1 post on Pittsburgh 3rd City Council District Republican Committee's Facebook page encouraging voters to write-in Wakulik for Allegheny County Sheriff
Both Oakmont GOP Committee and Pittsburgh 3rd City Council District Republican Committee are listed as local committees of the Republican Committee of Allegheny County.

RCAC chair and Allegheny County Councilor at-large Sam DeMarco (R-North Fayette) says the RCAC does not support this write-in effort.

“I’ve not met or spoken to this gentleman, or know anything about him,” says DeMarco, in reference to Wakulilk. “We are focused on electing the candidates we do have on the ballot today and that is where my efforts and that of the County Committee are focused.”

After this story was published, City Paper was contacted by Bob Hillen, chair of the Republican Committee of Pittsburgh. Hillen said that the Facebook page for he 3rd City Council District Republican Committee was created by former committee chair Andy Maul, who still runs the page, even though he is no longer the chair of the committee. However, Hillen said that Maul is the only person who can take down the page, as he is its administrator.

In response, Hillen posted on another Facebook page: "This page was created by the past Chair of the 3rd City Council District Republican Committee, Andy Maul. Andy is no longer a Committee member or Chair of this Committee. Andy did not file a petition to run for his committee seat or an Officer for this committee in 2020. Since that time this HAS NOT BEEN THE OFFICIAL PAGE of the 3rd City Council District Republican Committee. The only person that can take this page down is Andy Maul, and he has not done that yet. I am Bob Hillen Chair of the Republican Committee of Pittsburgh."

Wakulik once called City Paper “communist” and the “enemy of America” when CP asked him about IC CRU members sporting Valknots, a symbol with associations to white nationalism. On his social media, Wakulik often derides “communists'' and calls those with different ideologies “tyrants” and “evil” and seemingly supports violent vigilantism.

On Aug. 10, Wakulik posted praise on Facebook for the racist manifesto “Might is Right or The Survival of the Fittest,” an 1890 book that, according to NBC News, is “filled with misogynistic and anti-Semitic rhetoric, is a staple among neo-Nazis and white supremacists on extremist sites.”
Local GOP committees ask voters to write-in controversial, extremist militia leader for Allegheny County Sheriff (5)
CP photo: Ryan Deto
Matt Wakulik at an anti-quarantine rally in Downtown Pittsburgh in April 2020
In late August, a boat parade and rally was initially scheduled with several Republican candidates, conservative activist groups, and the IC CRU. But after being asked for comment by CP, candidates including Tony Moreno, a Republican candidate for Pittsburgh mayor, and Jason Richey, a Republican candidate for Pennsylvania governor, dropped out of the event.

The boat parade was eventually canceled and the rally was moved to Verona, where many residents criticized the restaurant that hosted Wakulik and a string of far-right candidates, such as Rick Saccone.

On the Oakmont GOP Committee post, some commenters questioned the committee’s association with Wakulik.

In response, the Oakmont GOP Committee Facebook account wrote, “don’t be sorry, facts don’t care about your feelings dear. If you don’t like brave, law abiding, Constitution and America loving people like him then that’s your problem.”

Editor's note: This story was updated on Nov. 5 to include a statement from Bob Hillen, chair of the Republican Committee of Pittsburgh.