WASHINGTON – It could be a politically perilous affiliation but Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul says he’s standing by longtime aide Jack Hunter following reports about the former radio shock jock's past. Those reports have centered on Hunter's pro-secessionist comments and his habit of wearing a Confederate flag ski mask in YouTube videos.
Moira Bagley, Paul’s communication director, told FoxNews.com there is no proof Hunter made any racist remarks and says the Republican senator will continue to support his friend and employee.
"Our office policy is that all employees treat individuals with the equal protection of the law. We find no evidence that this policy has been violated by any employee," Bagley said.
The affiliation, though, could trail Paul as he considers jumping into the 2016 presidential race.
“If he remains a staffer, he’ll be an albatross around Senator Paul’s neck,” GOP strategist Ron Bonjean told FoxNews.com, speculating that it will be harder for Paul to distance himself from Hunter the longer he hangs around.
Earlier this week, The Washington Free Beacon reported that Hunter had worked under the moniker “Southern Avenger” for a decade on a South Carolina AM radio show before catching the eye and attention of the Paul family.
Hunter, 39, was hired to help Paul write “The Tea Party Goes to Washington” – a book that looks at the popularity behind the grassroots political movement and argues “why the federal government must be stuffed back into its constitutional box,” according to a description on Amazon.com.
In August 2012, Paul tapped Hunter to be his social media director.
In an interview with the Free Beacon, Hunter renounced comments he made between 2004 and 2008. It was also around that same time that Hunter began posting his opinions on YouTube and quickly gained a largely libertarian following.
But Hunter maintains riling people was just part of his job.
“(The article) that brought my not-very-hidden radio pundit background to light does not accurately reflect me,” he said in a statement. “Years ago, I was a radio host whose job was to provoke and inflame. I abhor racism and I have never advocated anything other than equal protection under the law for all people.”
But others disagree and say his past actions and comments crossed the line.
In some of his YouTube broadcasts, Hunter, wearing a Confederate flag mask, touted messages like, “John Wilkes Booth was Right,” referring to President Lincoln’s assassin. He also opposed Spanish-speaking immigrants and has said that white Americans were treated to a “racial double standard.”
In a Sept. 28, 2009 YouTube clip titled “The Sanity of Secession,” he argued that states’ rights and secession are far from “crazy” and was a concept embraced by American political scientist and father of the containment movement George Kennan. Containment is a U.S. policy created to prevent the spread of communism abroad.
Before his radio gig, Hunter was a chairman in the League of the South – an organization labeled as a white supremacist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2000.
On its web site, current League of the South president Michael Hill says the group’s “ultimate goal is a free and independent Southern republic” and advocates confederate states breaking free from the rest of the country.
While Hunter defended the organization’s reputation in the Free Beacon interview he admitted it was “a fairly radical group.”
Since being hired by Paul, Hunter has made multiple media appearances pushing his boss’s agenda. He has appeared on Fox Business Network multiple times since 2011. FBN and FoxNews.com are owned by the same parent network.