The Republican behind North Carolina’s bathroom law invested in a neo-Nazi social media site

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A senator who invested in a social media platform favored by neo-Nazis says he’s being “smeared.”

Senator Dan Bishop (R-NC) gave money to Gab when the site was crowd-funding investment cash, the Daily Mail reported earlier this week.

When he was in the state house, Bishop was the lead author of HB2, a law that forced transgender people to use the wrong bathrooms and that banned cities from fighting discrimination against LGBTQ people.

Gab bills itself as “a free speech platform” that doesn’t censor users. It got national attention this past week when authorities found that Robert Bowers – the man who killed eleven people at the Tree of Life synagogue in a mass shooting – had an account on the site.

His profile said “jews are the children of Satan.”

“I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in,” Bowers wrote before the shooting.

Milo Yiannopoulos and Alex Jones also have accounts on the site.

Related: Banning Alex Jones from social media is not a free speech issue

Bishop wrote a Facebook post in August, 2017, about his investment in Gab.

“I’m about done with SF thought police tech giants’ Big Brother routine, and so,” he wrote. “I just invested in a free-speech social network startup mentioned in a Washington Post article today, Gab.ai. Free markets are the answer to many kinds of tyranny.”

He wrote this just days after the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Bishop confirmed in a statement on Twitter that he invested in the site.

“I made a $500 crowdfunding investment 14 months ago in a startup called Gab, which promoted itself as a new, unbiased social media platform,” he tweeted.

“Why I’m being targeted and smeared by a British tabloid for a $500 investment in the final days of a campaign, I have no clue.”

Despite his professed love of free speech, Bishop proposed a law to make it illegal to “threaten, intimidate, or retaliate against a present or former North Carolina official in the course of, or on account of, the performance of his or her duties.”

The idea came to him after someone called the former North Carolina governor an “anti-gay bigot” in the street. The measure did not pass.

Bishop may say he’s being “smeared” because people are pointing out something that he admits he did, but his Democratic opponent isn’t having it.

“Our community deserves to know why Dan Bishop was funding a platform for hate speech,” said Chad Stachowisz. “His investment helped spread white nationalist content, so we deserve to know if he holds these views. Dan Bishop should have known he was playing with fire.”

Andrew Torba, 27, calls himself a self-described “conservative Republican Christian,” and he founded Gab as a platform without censorship. Researchers at Princeton University and University College London found that hate words were 2.4 times more common on Gab than on Twitter.

“I believe that free speech and free thought are under attack,” Torba wrote in a post on Medium in 2016. “Political correctness has risen up at the expense of freedom of speech and has become a cancer on discourse.”

“In many ways, it has been easier to express my sexuality in this country publicly then it is to express my political opinion.”

On Sunday, GoDaddy pulled its webhosting services from Gab, and PayPal and the credit card processing service Stripe also cut ties with the site.

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