Medicare For All activists knew something was wrong when a man joined a Zoom meeting posing as an organizer who was already on a conference call. Their suspicions were only heightened when the intruder started talking about licking balls.
It was Sunday, and activists – who are trying to organize a national Medicare For All event – were already on edge. Earlier that day, they had been criticized for accidentally announcing a notorious neo-Nazi (as well as, unrelatedly, “Garfield” cartoonist Jim Davis) as the keynote speaker.
Now the group says it is being attacked by infiltrators, including trolls and an unauthorized Green Party chapter. Messages from the group’s Slack channel obtained by The Daily Beast reveal activists urging the organization to pull itself together on cybersecurity ahead of its July 24 rally with former presidential candidate Marianne Williamson.
March For Medicare For All (M4M4A) is a new organization, made up of left-wing activists from across the country and a handful of local political groups like Portland, the Oregon Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America and the Green Party. of Washington State. The coalition plans to hold Medicare for All rallies in cities across the country next month.
But M4M4A drew unwanted attention this weekend when it announced an event in Muncie, Indiana with a speaker named “Matt H. Bach”.
As other activists quickly noted on Twitter, the bespectacled man in the event flyer actually appeared to be Matthew Heimbach, a former leader of several neo-Nazi groups. Heimbach has become one of the most recognizable faces in the country on the far right after participating in the 2017 murderous Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., And most recently appeared in the news for assaulting a relative during the ‘a quadrilateral of intra-family love. (M4M4A also announced a much more innocuous character, Jim Davis, the creator of the “Garfield” comics, as the emcee of the Muncie event.)
“Behind each statistic hides a family or loved ones they miss. These are human lives.“
– Nick Iannone
For activists who noted Heimbach’s photo on M4M4A leaflets, his presence at a left-wing event was not impossible to believe. In 2018, Heimbach reportedly attempted to make inroads with Tennessee Democrats, without disclosing his white supremacist activities.
After hours of fury, M4M4A released a statement on Twitter condemning Heimbach and white nationalism. The group blamed the people “who acted independently and deliberately tried to derail and infiltrate our movement.” The organization said it voted to stop the Muncie march.
Asked for comment, Heimbach told the Daily Beast he was never invited to the rally. Davis could not be reached for comment. There is no evidence that either individual participated in the internal chaos of the group.
M4M4A’s Slack channel posts suggest the group has been fished. In a conversation, provided to The Daily Beast by someone with access to the channel, the M4M4A graphic designer was contacted by someone with the username “Ethan Rae Steele”. Steele sent the designer pictures of “speakers” for the Muncie march, presumably including Heimbach and Davis, although Steele later deleted his account, erasing his messages. Steele also appeared to request access to M4M4A’s social media accounts.
It’s unclear whether Steele or other posers secured the group’s social media connections. M4M4A did not return repeated requests for comment. With or without the credentials, however, graphics promoting Nazis to trolls hit M4M4A’s Instagram over the weekend, alongside photos of more serious activists scheduled to speak out.
When the flashback began, not all of the M4M4A organizers were convinced they had been duped. âHow sure are we that it’s not Matt Bach from Monmouth Cardiology,â an activist asked in M4M4A Slack, suggesting that the Muncie organizers accidentally uploaded the wrong photo from Google. And while some have grasped the urgency of the situation (âthe post must be deleted NOW,â one wrote), others have also challenged their criticism on Twitter. One leader suggested the group examine the apparent cat-fishing effort, but also suggested that a prominent anti-fascist who drew attention to Heimbach’s photo was secretly working with the CIA.
A Zoom call to discuss the infiltration only underscored the group’s concerns.
âA young male voice with a Midwestern accent continued to join in on the Zoom call that we put in place to discuss this,â Nick Iannone, an M4M4A activist, told The Daily Beast. âHe pretended to be the main organizer, asked for credentials, then asked about ‘ligma’ as a joke. We knew he was a troll because the person he was impersonating was already on the call. “(” Ligma “is a trick joke where someone tries to trick people into a conversation about” ligma ” [lick my] bullets â, etc.)
Later, on Slack, activists opened up about what they said was M4M4A’s questionable cybersecurity.
“I’m actually VERY worried now,” wrote the graphic designer who apparently had been tricked into making the Muncie flyers. (The designer couldn’t be reached for comment as he only used a common first name in Slack conversations.) âI remember that person who submitted the photos also expressed interest in accessing to social media accounts. I’m not sure anyone handed them out, but it’s something to be scaled up. “
âWe need a new invite-only game,â suggested another.
âHonestly,â replied an organizer, âwe don’t have time for all of this. But if that’s what people want to do, I guess that’s fine with me.
More publicly, on Twitter, M4M4A has taken an uncompromising stand against the infiltrators.
On Monday, the group posted a link to a now-deleted Twitter for the Las Vegas Green Party. “Infiltration is everywhere,” M4M4A tweeted. âThis is not an official Green Party account. This person tried to infiltrate our movement. This is the one that was taken. Make known. “
The Nevada Green Party issued a similar statement, announcing that the Las Vegas Green Party and its leader were “not affiliated with the Nevada Green Party or the ‘M4M4ALL’ event. all) in any way. In addition, the Nevada Green Party does not have a branch in Las Vegas or Clark County. Any representation to the contrary is fraudulent. Unfortunately, the infiltration of organizations and political parties is widespread.
Alex Williams, regional director of the future Green Party in Vegas, has refuted claims he infiltrated the group. He claimed the fight spilled over from an old feud he had with the organizers of M4M4A when they all tried to work together on “Force The Vote,” a doomed attempt to force Congress to hold a vote on Medicare For All earlier this year.
âI was only regional manager for about a week. I was actually the one who connected the Green Party of Nevada with the Medicare for All March, âWilliams told the Daily Beast. He said he understood he was a general member of the Nevada Green Party, which enabled him to establish his own local party branch and begin fundraising on his own behalf and on behalf of M4M4A. .
Emails between Williams and the Nevada Green Party suggest the group has split from him in recent days amid conversations about the organization of M4M4A, making it clear that his actual title was that of an intern (Williams has said it was the first time he had heard of the title), and that his fundraising efforts seemed to be beyond his purview.
“I would like to let you know that setting up a donation account under the pretext that you work with / for the Green Party is illegal,” a Nevada Green Party leader sent him.
Williams has denied any misconduct.
âIt is actually not illegal for me to set up a fundraising page as a local Nevada Green Party, as there is no local Nevada Green Party yet,â Williams told the Daily Beast, adding that he had in fact not raised any funds. A spokesperson for the Green Party of Nevada reaffirmed to the Daily Beast that the Vegas group was illegitimate.
The social media turmoil has driven at least one group of Medicare for All advocates away from M4M4A: Activists in Fort Lauderdale, who had independently planned a July 24 march promoted by M4M4A, are now planning to hold a different event, a local activist told The Beast of the Day.
Still, a large part of the group is fighting. Iannone, the activist who took part in the Zoom bombed Sunday appeal, said the Medicare For All fight was personal to him. Although he lives with severe ADD, he lost access to his medication for eight years after a cut in insurance left him with no coverage. Other people, he noted, are struggling to afford even more critical care.
âBehind every statistic is a family or loved ones they miss. These are human lives, âhe said. “We spend so much time worrying about the cost and who owes what to whom, that we have allowed the ‘death signs’ Republicans feared to come true, in the form of debtors’ prisons that medical debt is become. “
In its statement on Twitter, M4M4A said it was investigating the circumstances that led to its infiltration.
“Our rules and ethics committee will hold a meeting to investigate, discuss safety procedures and put in place a strict verification process so that we can make sure this never happens again,” the group wrote.