Website that published Virginia governor’s racist yearbook photo has ties to Corey Stewart campaign

The far-right news site that was first to publish a deeply racist photo from Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s 1984 yearbook is owned by a consultant for Corey Stewart, the right-wing, neo-Confederate sympathizer who launched a failed bid to run against Northam for the state’s governorship in 2017.

Big League Politics, which broke the Northam story, was acquired last year by Mustard Seed Media, according to a report last year in The Daily Beast. Mustard Seed is owned by former Stewart campaign consultant Reilly O’Neal, who also worked with Roy Moore’s failed Senate campaign in Alabama.

Another former Stewart and Moore consultant, Noel Fritsch, is also involved with running Big League Politics, according to The Daily Beast.

Big League Politics’ about page describes it as “a journalist-owned company” but doesn’t disclose its legal structure, ownership, or funding sources. Mustard Seed Media doesn’t have a web or social media presence, but the North Carolina Secretary of State’s Office lists O’Neal as its registered agent, manager, and sole member.

Reached by phone Saturday, Fritsch hung up when asked about Mustard Seed Media. O’Neal could not be reached for comment. Big League Politics did not immediately return a request for comment.

Records compiled by the nonprofit Virginia Public Access Project show that Stewart’s failed campaign for Virginia’s 2017 Republican gubernatorial nomination paid Fritsch at least $16,498 for communications consulting. A consulting firm owned by O’Neal, Tidewater Strategies, earned another $3,000.

Stewart lost that primary to Ed Gillespie, who lost the general election to Northam.

Stewart’s 2018 Senate run in Virginia, which he lost to incumbent Democrat Sen. Tim Kaine, also paid thousands of dollars to Fritsch and a second firm owned by O’Neal, Capital Square Funding Group.

O’Neal and Fritsch’s work for the Stewart campaigns was first reported last year by The Daily Beast

Besides Tidewater and Capital Square, O’Neal is also the registered agent for at least three other North Carolina corporations that share an address with Mustard Seed Media: Insight Public Opinion LLC, Studio 107 LLC, and the Brannon Committee Inc.

Capital Square Funding group did not return a voicemail message and an email seeking comment from O’Neal about Mustard Seed Media.

The other corporations appear to be inactive. A phone number listed on the website for Tidewater is disconnected. Emails sent to addresses listed for on websites for Tidewater and Insight Public Opinion returned undeliverable. So did one sent to an address on the Facebook page for Studio 107.

The Brannon Committee is dissolved and does not have a web presence. It formed less than a week before Tea Party candidate Greg Brannon entered North Carolina’s 2014 Republican Senate primary. O’Neal was Brannon’s campaign manager.

Like Big League Politics itself, Mustard Seed Media makes no secret of its political leanings. In 2017, the company donated several thousand dollars worth of in-kind banners ads on an unidentified news site to two conservative political action committees in North Carolina, Pro-Life North Carolina PAC and North Carolina Gun Rights PAC. Both PACs share the same post office box as O’Neal’s corporations.

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