By Ben Olson and Cameron Rasmusson
The man suspected by Sandpoint Police for distributing racist propaganda late last year appears to be responsible for racist and anti-Semitic robocalls in California this month.
Scott D. Rhodes is linked to two separate robocalls received by California residents — one that urged Californians to move to North Idaho because it’s “one of the whitest places left,” and another which targeted U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein.
Both calls claim to be “paid for by theroadtopower.com,” a vlog, or video blog, containing content by a man identified by Sandpoint Reader reporters as Rhodes, who was contacted by Sandpoint Police in December 2017 following the distribution of racist propaganda in the Sandpoint High School parking lot. Officers informed Rhodes he had been trespassed from school district property and told him they believed he was responsible for an ongoing distribution campaign of racist propaganda. They also informed him he wasn’t being looked at for any criminal charges.
Paul Gerard, a plumber from Alameda, Calif., was one of the individuals to receive the first robocall. It featured a narrator saying, “Are you tired of bad attitude negroes ruining every place they go? Tired of Jews running California into the ground and ripping you off? … Then relocate to North Idaho, where there’s almost no nig nogs, Jews or ching chongs. North Idaho, one of the freest places left in the United States, specifically cause it’s one of the whitest places left. Relocate to North Idaho where very white is very right.”
According to Gerard, the call was “a bit of a shock.”
“First I thought it was a gag,” said Gerard, a native Britisher who is married to an African-American woman. “My wife came back to the table after I’d listened to the message and she saw my face was gray. She asked what was wrong and I didn’t really want to tell her and ruin her day. It’s just ugliness you don’t need to invite into your day.”
Gerard later discussed the call with employee Zach Turner, who had previously lived in southwest Idaho. Turner then researched newspapers in North Idaho and shared the information with reporters.
“I love Idaho,” said Turner. “For these people to think they can own it and have some kind of special rights to that part of the country? That upsets me. It divides people and exacerbates tension. It’s a gut punch to hear people speaking about others like that.”
A separate robocall reported by the San Francisco Chronicle attacked U.S. Sen. Feinstein with anti-Semitic slurs, and supported Patrick Little, a neo-Nazi running as a Republican on the state’s June 5 primary ballot.
The 90-second robocall claimed Feinstein was an Israeli citizen pretending to be an American and encouraged listeners, “To rid America of the traitorous Jews like Diane Feinstein, vote for Patrick Little for U.S. senator from California.”
When Little was asked by the Chronicle whether he approved of what was said in the robocall, he wrote: “Show me the lie, and I will consider renouncing it.”
The Feinstein robocall was also listed as “paid for by theroadtopower.com.”
Bryan Kuhlman, a representative from Endurance International Group, Inc. confirmed the site theroadtopower.com is hosted by one of their subsidiaries called Bluehost, and that it had been redirected to another site called PewTube, a censorship-free YouTube emulator site frequented by alt-right and conspiracist content generators.
Kuhlman said Endurance International Group, Inc. does not monitor user content, but they do investigate matters when they are brought to the company’s attention.
In several of the vlogs, Rhodes begins by stating he is “coming to you from very white, very racist North Idaho.” However, Rhodes may have relocated his base of operations, as visits to his former office on Division Avenue confirm that Rhodes has moved out of that office building. Tenants in the suite Rhodes previously occupied said they moved in April 1.
On one of Rhodes’ videos, he encourages viewers to spread hate flyers, suggesting viewers buy clear plastic bags that “also allows you to put something inside to give it weight so you can easily toss it, that also prevents it from blowing away.”
Residents in Sandpoint reported on several occasions that racist flyers were found on their lawns in clear plastic bags, some with weights added to them to make them easier to throw.
Rhodes also offers his viewers tips for how to spread hate flyers without breaking the law: “It’s always worth looking up online and city code for the town you are going to distribute in,” he said.
Rhodes’ other videos on the site mostly target Jewish and African American individuals with racial slurs, but also outline ideas for starting national movements to place white nationalists in power.
In addition to the California robocalls and Sandpoint propaganda distribution, Rhodes is linked by police to racist, threatening phone calls targeting city officials in Alexandria, Va.
Hate speech is protected by the First Amendment, so there are no criminal charges that have been filed against Rhodes.
Rhodes did not return multiple attempts to contact him at his phone numbers and email address.