On June 28, 2020, one of the biggest topics of conversation on social media was a video that showed two people pointing weapons at a group of protesters in St. Louis. Many people viewed this video as if these individuals, later identified as lawyers Mark and Patricia McCloskey, had broken the law (or merely the rules of decency) by brandishing their weapons in a threatening manner, but others argued they were lawfully defending their private property.
Read more about the circumstances that led to the original video here.
As this controversy churned, rumors started to circulate about the couple’s political affiliations.
Benny Johnson, for instance, the chief creative officer for the conservative nonprofit Turning Point USA, a group that has repeatedly spread misinformation, claimed on Twitter using Federal Election Commission (FEC) records as evidence that Mark McCloskey had on several occasions donated to Democrats:
This screenshot shows a Mark McCloskey who donated to “ActBlue,” a fundraising tool used by liberal nonprofits and Democratic politicians. However, an uncropped version of this image from the FEC website shows that this McCloskey is from Michigan (MI) not Missouri (MO). In other words, this is not the McCloskey in the viral video.
Here’s a full screenshot from the FEC website:
The Mark McCloskey in the viral video, however, has also made several political donations. According to the FEC, the McCloskey in the viral video made multiple donations to the Republican National Committee, to the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, and to Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. in 2016 and 2017. McCloskey also made a few donations in 1996 to Republican politician Bill Phelps’ congressional campaign, a primary committee for the Bush/Quayle ticket, and the National Republican Congressional Committee. He has not made any donations in the last few years, according to the FEC.
Here’s a screenshot from the FEC website showing the donations made by the Mark McCloskey in the viral video.
Benny Johnson eventually deleted his tweet and posted a message stating: “I deleted this tweet because the FEC screenshot that went viral online was from a different donor of the same name.”
While McCloskey’s most recent political donations have gone to Republican causes, including President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, FEC records show that he has donated to Democrats in the past. Between 2004 and 2012, McCloskey donated to Democratic candidates, including Sen. Claire McCaskill.
While the McCloskeys truly pointed their weapons at a group of Black Lives Matter protesters who were marching toward the home of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, the couple released a statement through their attorney claiming that they supported the movement:
“The Black Lives Matters movement is here to stay, it is the right message, and it is about time,” said Albert S. Watkins, legal counsel for Mr. and Mrs. McCloskey. “The McCloskeys want to make sure no one thinks less of BLM, its message and the means it is employing to get its message out because of the actions of a few white individuals who tarnished a peaceful protest.’”
FEC records show that McCloskey made several donations in support of President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. It should be noted, however, that McCloskey has supported some Democrats on the local level. Most recently, for instance, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that he donated $250 to the 2020 campaign of Democratic state Rep. Steven Roberts. Shortly after the video of McCloskey pointing a weapon at protesters went viral, Roberts said that he would be giving McCloskey’s donation to Moms Demand Action, an organization fighting to protect people from gun violence.
Read more about the original incident here.