Former Daily Caller editor John Griffing has a new project: Texas independence. He recently joined the Texas Nationalist Movement (TNM) as the organization’s communications director. The Texas secessionist group has some murky ties to Russia: members representing TNM have made multiple trips to Russia over the past few years, including with members of separatist movements from other Western allies.
Griffing also previously worked as the executive director of Texas’ Harris County GOP.
Griffing, who did not respond to ThinkProgress’ request for an interview, says he worked as an “associate editor” with the Daily Caller. “He was with the [Daily Caller News Foundation], but he didn’t make it six months before we parted ways if I remember correctly,” Daily Caller Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Ingersoll told ThinkProgress via email.
Griffing is also no longer involved with the Harris County GOP, the local Republican party that covers much of Houston. “I believe he served [as executive director] about five or six years ago,” Harris County GOP spokesperson Vlad Davidiuk told ThinkProgress. “The last time I saw him was around that time.”
TNM didn’t respond to ThinkProgress’ questions, but the group has sent representatives to Russia multiple times over the past few years, mainly to network with other Western secessionists flocking to Moscow. Russia’s foreign interference efforts include fostering secessionist movements inside the U.S. and its allies.
These groups and their representatives — all of whom sought to break up their countries, whether in the U.S. or Europe — found a welcome audience in Russia at multiple conferences since 2015.
— Moved To Russia (@LouisJMarinelli) September 26, 2016
The Russian group bringing the Texas secessionists — as well as secessionists from California and Hawaii — wasn’t a grassroots force. The Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia (AGMR) received funding from the Kremlin. The office of the AGMR’s head even featured a letter from Russian President Vladimir Putin, thanking the group for working “to strengthen friendship between peoples[.]”
As ThinkProgress has previously reported:
TNM accepted funding from the Moscow-backed AGMR to travel back to Russia. As TNM head Daniel Miller later related in an interview with Salon, AGMR — which had taken tens of thousands of dollars from the Kremlin — had helped fund the Texans’ latest voyage to Russia. (According to Ionov, about one-third of his group’s budget came directly from the Kremlin, while private donors in “Texas and other countries” provided the rest.) Miller confirmed the funding in a December 2016 interview with KQED, but “declined to say how much money the Kremlin gave” to the Texas Nationalist Movement.
At the height of Russia’s disinformation campaign to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election, Texas secession was one of the most popular themes carried on fake Russian social media pages, from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram. The Russian “Heart of Texas” page even pledged to pass on supporter information to TNM, although TNM denied ever working with Russian trolls.
Griffing apparently isn’t shy about TNM’s association with ongoing Russian disinformation efforts. Just last month, Griffing appeared on Russian propaganda outlet RT, which identified him as a “Republican official in Texas.”
Nor is TNM isn’t shy about promoting Griffing’s efforts. In a recent post, the Texas secession group claimed that Griffing was recently “able to network” with Nigel Farage, one of the masterminds of the push for Brexit, as well as former British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson.
The post doesn’t actually offer any proof that Griffing managed “to network” with these British politicos — nor does it mention any of TNM’s previous international outreach in Russia.