Doug Mastriano, the Republican gubernatorial nominee in Pennsylvania, speaks at an event at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., on Friday, July 1, 2022 (AP Photo/Marc Levy)
Doug Mastriano, the Republican gubernatorial nominee in Pennsylvania, speaks at an event at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., on Friday, July 1, 2022 (AP Photo/Marc Levy)

According to its founder and CEO, Gab is an alternative to mainstream social media sites that are “too liberal.” It was the platform used by the Tree of Life shooter who killed 11 Jewish worshippers in 2018.

GOP gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano used $5,000 in campaign money to pay for “consulting services” from Gab, a social media platform that is home to violent conspiracy theorists.

Mastriano’s campaign disclosed the payment in a routine financial filing with the state for the month of April. 

In an email to a Pittsburgh media outlet, Andrew Torba, Gab founder and CEO, said the $5,000 payment from Mastriano’s campaign on April 28 was for an advertising campaign. Gab was the website used by the Tree of Life synagogue shooter Robert Bowers, who is charged with killing 11 Jewish worshippers in Squirrel Hill in 2018.

Torba said he started Gab as an alternative to mainstream social media sites he believes are too liberal.

In an interview posted on Gab on May 2, Mastriano thanked Torba for providing a forum for conservative voices like his own and seemed to have no reservations about the content of the site.

Since joining Gab in February, Mastriano has posted 66 times, mostly criticism of Democratic policies. Many of his posts receive a large amount of comments that are often antisemtic insults about Mastriano’s Democratic gubernatorial opponent Josh Shapiro, who is Jewish.

In an emailed statement, Will Simmons, a spokesperson for Shapiro, said Mastriano’s affiliation with Gab is not surprising given his extremism. Mastriano has continually supported and spread unproven claims of fraud in the 2020 election. He also attended the insurrection at the US Capitol on Jan. 6 and has been subpoenaed by the congressional committee investigating that day’s events.

“Doug Mastriano has proven again that he is unfit to be governor by bankrolling and accepting the endorsement of the hateful organization that empowered the Tree of Life shooter to spread antisemitic, white nationalist rhetoric before murdering 11 Jewish people in Pittsburgh,” Simmons wrote.

Even members of his own political party have spoken out against Mastriano, calling him an “unacceptable choice” who is “way beyond what the Republican Party” stands for. Several Republicans even formed a pro-Shapiro PAC in an effort to ensure Mastriano does not win his bid for the governorship in November.