Days after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge and accepting an agreement to cooperate with federal authorities, out conservative activist and Capitol insurrection participant Brandon Straka called for his followers to defend his name on social media and send him money (despite receiving over $30,000 in federal pandemic relief last year). He also specifically asked for men to reach out to him because he rarely hears from them.
Straka is a hairdresser from New York who got some fame in 2018 for his #WalkAway organization that encouraged groups that usually vote for Democrats – like LGBTQ people – to “walk away” from the Democratic Party vote for Republicans. He was not only present at the Capitol on January 6, but he spoke at a “Stop the Steal” rally the day before and encouraged thousands of people on social media to continue storming the Capitol the day of.
Straka entered his guilty plea on October 6. On October 8, he sent an email message to his #WalkAway supporters asking for them to “Start posting positive things that you believe about me. Push back against the one sided hate attacks that are happening right now.”
Straka wrote, “I still have nothing to say about my case, other than this- as it’s being widely (and likely INTENTIONALLY) misreported: I did NOT enter the Capitol building… Almost every story I’ve read so far says or implies that I went inside. I did NOT.”
Straka claims “The amount of hatred being leveled at me this week is unlike anything I’ve experienced the past 4 years. I feel like I’m being attacked by an army.”
He asks followers to “Please send love. Love. Love. LOVE.” He then further requests that his followers “tell your husbands, boyfriends, sons, and fathers to sign up for my emails!
“I only get about 1 out of 100 emails from men. lol,” he explains. “I love my women followers, but also want to hear from the guys that we’re all going to get through this in one piece.”
In an email sent today, Straka told his followers, “There are so many things I long to tell you all about, including the ways in which members of my own family have turned their backs on me this year. To be clear, my parents have been rock solid by my side through this whole thing- I can’t say the same for just about every other person in my family,” he states.
He blames his ordeal not on his actions but on “The growing political divide in this country,” something his #WalkAway organization is arguably built on.
“I will be coming out of this crisis soon, but will not be moving forward in my life with the majority of my biological family relationships,” he concludes.
In both emails, Straka asks supporters to support him financially, despite the fact that he’s been banned from many financial services due to his online activity. “After being PERMANENTLY BANNED from PayPal, Venmo, and Stripe,” Straka states, “I have CUSTOM CREATED a support platform using a conservative friendly payment processor company.”
He also encourages followers to subscribe to him on Patreon, Podia, or to mail him checks. Both Patreon and Podia are sites for creators to offer digital memberships to supporters.
While he asserts he did not enter the Capitol building, Straka was present near the Capitol the day of and wrote on Twitter to his half a million followers that day, “Patriots at the Capitol – HOLD. THE. LINE!!!!” while rioters were breaking into and roaming inside the building.
Straka tweeted later that day he was “confused” that major GOP leaders said they didn’t support the crowd, which was carrying weapons and chanting “Hang Mike Pence” as they trashed the Capitol and lawmakers were taken to safety by law enforcement officers.
“I’m completely confused,” he tweeted. “For 6-8 weeks everybody on the right has been saying ‘1776!’ & that if congress moves forward [with ceremonially accepting each state’s electoral votes] it will mean a revolution!”
“So congress moves forward, Patriots storm the Capitol- now everybody is virtual signaling their embarrassment that this happened.”
He later deleted his social media accounts, and two days after, Facebook deleted the page for #WalkAway, saying that it violated Facebook’s policy against “hateful, threatening, or obscene” content.
Multiple people also caught Straka on video – which the FBI obtained after videos were posted to YouTube – that allegedly showed him outside the Capitol, shouting “We’re going in!” and “Go! Go!”
Another video allegedly showed shows Straka urging other rioters to attack a Capitol Police officer and rip away his protective gear. According to charging documents, Straka shouted: “Take it away from him.” Other people in the crowd then yelled, “Take the shield!”
He was arrested later in January on multiple charges that could have resulted in a five year jail sentence before he struck a deal with authorities.
In March, it was revealed that Straka got $20,800 in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds and the rightwing organization he founded got $12,354, although it’s not clear if there are any other employees working for Straka or the organization other than himself.
In 2019, Straka sued New York’s LGBT Community Center because they wouldn’t let him hold a conservative event there. He accused the Center of discriminating against him because he’s gay, presumably because he believed that the Center would have allowed straight conservatives to hold an event there or something. The lawsuit was dismissed.
In 2020, he was banned from American Airlines due to his refusal to follow mask mandate guidance.
Straka is scheduled to be sentenced on the disorderly conduct charge in December.