by Ken Silva, Headline USA:
‘Outright accusing me of being an informant: Wow. If I was still in the movement, you might have gotten a visit for that accusation—and not a visit from law enforcement…’
An FBI informant cofounded one of the largest and oldest neo-Nazi organizations in U.S. history: the National Socialist Movement, a group connected to numerous crimes and violent events, including the deadly 2017 Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally, according to previously unpublicized records reviewed by Headline USA.
The documents—a trove of FBI memos, affidavits and court records that this publication has dubbed the “Fed Files”—further indicate that the NSM allegedly had informants in prominent positions throughout much of its nearly 50-year history.
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Once known as the “Hollywood Nazis” for its flamboyant demonstrations and crude propaganda, the NSM has also been accused of being co-opted by the FBI in a lawsuit filed by a former member who is now in prison.
Multiple current and former NSM members denied any affiliation with the FBI or law enforcement.
The FBI declined to comment for this story.
The NSM was founded in 1974 by Cliff Herrington and Robert Brannen, both of whom were chief lieutenants of prominent American fascist George Lincoln Rockwell—the founder of the original American Nazi Party in 1959.
By 1976, there was growing suspicion in the Nazi movement that Brannen was working with the FBI.
In fact, the NSM’s own publication, the National Socialist, released an article in April 1976, denying accusations from a rival group—the National Socialist White Peoples Party, or NSWPP—that Brannen was an informant. The National Socialist article called the accusations a “reckless and irresponsible smear attack on Comrade Brennan.”
But the NSWPP was right about Brannen.
Commenting on that National Socialist article several months later, a May 1976 FBI memo warned that Brannen’s cover might have been blown.
The redacted memo doesn’t show the informant’s name, but it clearly identifies Brannen by referencing the National Socialist article and the accusations floating around him at the time.
“Informant’s photograph and description appeared in the February 1976, NSWPP publication and he was named an FBI informant,” the FBI memo said.
“Informant’s group, the NSM, has publicized a rebuttal, and the Cincinnati Office is taking special precaution to ensure this informant can be operated successfully without jeopardizing his personal safety,” the memo said.
Despite the accusations against Brannen, he continued to lead the NSM undaunted for almost another decade until he suffered several strokes in 1983.
The other cofounder of NSM, Cliff Herrington, denied that his former colleague was ever a federal informant.
“I knew Robert F. Brannen personally. He wasn’t on the take,” Herrington said in an email to this publication.
As an aside, Herrington also confirmed reports that his wife, Andrea Herrington aka Maxine Dietrich, founded a Satanic cult called the Joy of Satan Ministries. The discovery of Herrington’s Satanic leanings is a reason cited by White for why he left the NSM in the mid-2000s.
“Yes! I am married to HP Andrea Herrington nee Dietrich!! Many ivy league critiques have said she was worthy of Master Degrees! Oh, ps SHE & Her Lieutenants are completely right!” Herrington said in a typo-ridden email, which he signed, “Herrington Heil Hitler!”
Herrington led the NSM from the time of Brannen’s major stroke in 1983 until 1994, when he appointed Jeff Schoep to succeed him.
The Jeff Schoep Era
Schoep, who led the NSM from 1994 until shortly after the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally, has also been accused of being an FBI informant.
Unlike Brannen, the allegation against Schoep isn’t clearly corroborated by FBI memos. And the accusation comes from a controversial source: former NSM member Bill White, who is now serving time in prison for multiple felony convictions.
White accused Schoep of being an informant in an 2017 FOIA lawsuit he filed against the FBI from prison, as well as a 2020 court declaration in which he unsuccessfully sought compassionate release. White attached the FBI memo about Brannen to this same court declaration.
In his FOIA lawsuit, White sought records about the NSM, Schoep and a slew of other players he alleged were part of an FBI right-wing entrapment operation.
According to White, the FBI took control of the NSM as early as 2004, and likely much earlier. White said in his FOIA lawsuit that the FBI and ATF “would use the National Socialist Movement to hold phony ‘white supremacist’ rallies.”