From Staff Reports
NASHVILLE, TN — Rolling around Metro’s media landscape are troubling tales about mayoral candidate Alice Rolli’s loss of campaign consultant Woodrow Johnston and his apparent willingness to use the Proud Boys’ fame for political gain.
Rolli and Metro Council Member Freddie O’Connell are competing in the Sept. 14 run-off election for mayor. Early voting starts Friday next week and continues through Sept. 9. Tuesday was the last day to register to vote in the election that includes several run-off races for council seats.
It was the website “Axios” of events here that first publicized, locally, a June 2, 2021 report in The Washington Post quoting Johnston’s Facebook Messenger chat that supported The Post’s headline: “To build a crowd for a pro-Trump rally, Nevada GOP consultant sought help from Proud Boys.”
The Nashville Banner obtained Rolli’s email to supporters, calling the Post’s two-year-old report “unsettling news.” … Rolli shared what’s portrayed as a revelation “to be fully transparent about my campaign,” the Banner reported.
“This morning,” Rolli’s email (as disclosed by the Banner) states that she “learned the consultant firm we hired had more than a strong connection to Proud Boys. Today I confirmed this alarming information and immediately severed ties with the firm. Hatred has no place in Nashville. It has no place on my campaign.”
Johnston’s 2020 on-line chat was with, according to The Post, “a liberal activist who had faked a persona to get close to far-right activists and a consultant working with the [Nevada] state Republican Party and a consultant [Johnston] who contacted her in a bid to recruit the Proud Boys, a far-right men’s group, to attend… [a] rally” to protest 2020 Presidential election ballot-counting in North Las Vegas.
Johnston — then a vice president of a consultancy hired by Republicans to investigate electoral fraud — on Nov. 4, 2020 messaged the liberal activist about protests disrupting vote counting in Florida and Arizona, as The Post revealed six months later. The national newspaper got the messages from the activist and quoted Johnston as saying, “‘We might have to do the same here in Nevada [as protests in Florida and Arizona] … Which means we need to get the Proud Boys out.’”
Axios of Nashville has affiliates across the country and quotes Johnston as now saying that he has “never worked with the Proud Boys … never sought out work with [them] … and never sought out services with them … and … [has] never spoken with their organization.”
Johnston says Rolli threw him “under the bus,” so he was “compelled to defend” his reputation, Axios reports.
At least two explanations are reported on how Rolli lost Johnston as a campaign consultant. Rolli is quoted as having “separated ties” with Johnston, and Johnston refutes reports that he was fired, saying he quit “over differences on the direction” of Rolli’s campaign, Axios states.
Johnston told Axios the Proud Boys controversy had been discussed with Rolli “in their first conversation,” according to axios.com
As with other such developments in Nashville politics, news departments at broadcast stations here have also summarized the reports.