Just What Was Brandon Straka #WalkingAway From?

Founder of Trumpian anti-Democratic Party group was an intermittent voter

Brandon Straka in the YouTube video in which he launched his #WalkAway effort.
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The gay founder of the #WalkAway movement who posted a passionate video on YouTube in which he announced he was leaving the Democratic Party has only voted six times since 2004 and only one of those votes was cast in a primary race.

“And worst of all, the Democratic Party and the liberal media have embraced, affirmed, aided, and abetted this cult ideology,” said Brandon Straka, 42, said in a June 29, 2018, video that he posted on YouTube. “In an effort to gain voters and maintain power, the Democratic Party that I once loved has joined forces with the extremist left.

The six-minute statement mostly blames unnamed “social justice warriors” for his complaints, which are grab bag of general conservative complaints about the left. The complaint that the Democratic Party has embraced some of the sillier views of the far left would probably be rejected by most Democrats. His renunciation of the Democratic Party and his affiliation with the Republican Party have made him very popular in conservative circles.

In 2018 and into 2019, he gave interviews to multiple mainstream and right wing news outlets. This month, Straka spoke at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which is produced by the America Conservative Union and features leading conservative voices. Straka organized the #WalkAway March in Washington, DC, in October 2018. The movement is meant to encourage more people to leave the Democratic Party.

Straka’s professed love for the Democratic Party looks more like nominal interest in light of his voting record. He registered as a Democrat in 2004, according to city Board of Elections records. He voted in the 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, and 2018 general elections and in the 2010 primary races. Straka told the CPAC audience that he voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, but Board of Elections data show he did not vote in the primary contest that year between Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders nor in the primary eight years earlier between Clinton and then-Illinois Senator Barack Obama. Nor did he vote in the four mayoral contests in the years since 2004.

Straka has not donated to any candidate or committee in any election cycle in any city race since 2001, according to the city’s Campaign Finance Board nor has he donated to any candidate or committee in any federal or state race since 2001, according to the state Board of Elections and the Federal Election Commission.

Straka changed his party affiliation to Republican in April 2018 and then again in September 2018. The second registration came after a left-leaning journalist contacted him and said that he was still registered as a Democrat, Straka told Gay City News. He declined to discuss his voting history or the two-month gap between his change in party affiliation and the video, saying, “I don’t like the direction this interview is going.”

Straka gained higher notoriety in the LGBTQ community in New York City after his group organized a March 28 town hall that was to occur at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center. The town hall was to feature Straka, Blaire White, Rob Smith, and Mike Harlow who were identified as writers and political commentators. White is transgender and Smith and Harlow are gay. When activist groups, such as Rise and Resist and ACT UP, learned of the town hall the week of March 18, they formed a coalition that sent an open letter to the Center on March 22 asking that the town hall be canceled and for greater transparency and accountability in its bookings process. The Center cancelled the town hall on March 22.

“In recent days we have learned that certain of the panelists announced for this event have made repeated, well-documented past statements that violate our mission, values and the spirit of inclusiveness for all individuals and identities that is core to our work and who we are,” the Center said in a statement. “Our space is a place of safety and refuge for those most vulnerable among us, and we will do everything in our power to protect that. Permitting this event to proceed would make many of our community members feel unsafe and, among other things, interfere with their ability to participate in other Center programming.”

Straka told Gay City News that he learned of the cancellation in a tweet and that he had not heard from The Center.

“We are going to actively pursue any legal action we can,” Straka said. “They have deprived the LGBT community of being able to engage in an open dialogue considering alternative points of view to the typical leftist progressive agenda, which has taken the LGBT community hostage. The behavior that we’re seeing right now is precisely the reason why our event was so very necessary. The gay movement has been hijacked by a mob of liberal, leftist fascists.”

In 2011, the Center banned all groups that were organizing around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some of the banned groups had already been meeting at The Center. That led to two years of protests inside the Center by groups that oppose Israeli policy toward the Palestinians. The ban was lifted in 2013 only after author Sarah Schulman was barred because she proposed to read from her 2012 book “Israel/ Palestine and The Queer Internatio­nal.” That move prompted singularly loud and vigorous protests and led to an end to the ban.

Straka said he has attended roughly two dozen events at the Center and was never told his behavior violated any policy. To his knowledge, none of the other panelists ever attended an event there and violated a Center policy. This latest ban appears to result solely from comments that Straka and his colleagues made at events outside the Center.

“It had to be because we’ve never done an event at the Center,” Straka said.

When it initially rented the space, Straka’s group would have been required to pledge that it follow all Center policies at the event.

While the #WalkAway campaign has enjoyed a great deal of media attention, it is unclear if the movement has enjoyed financial success. Fundraising accounts on GoFundMe and have not hit their goals. On GoFundMe, at least, the money is not released unless the fundraiser makes the campaign’s goal. Separately, Straka solicits donations for the WalkAway Foundation, a 501(c)(3), or in checks payable to him on Donors are instructed to send donations to an address on Lexington Avenue. That address is for a UPS store at Lexington Avenue and 116th Street.

Updated 3:58 pm, April 24, 2019
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Reader feedback

Andy Humm from Chelsea says:
Sounds like a pretty shady operation. Thanks for illuminating, Duncan.
March 23, 12:47 pm
Kathleen from Astoria says:
Excellent research and reporting.
March 23, 2:45 pm
Chris Bram from West Greenwich Village says:
Excellent article. Thank you, Duncan and GCN.
March 23, 3:49 pm
Steve from MD says:
Actually what you described (Straka's voting record) supports his story perfectly. You said he voted 6 times in elections since 2004 (Presidential elections are every four years in case you didn't realize). I hate to break it to you, but that's a lot more engaged than the electorate at large. But the fact he didn't participate in primary elections is typical...he "went along with the crowd/narrative" in general elections...and was an auto "D" voter. I'm really not sure what your point is, but your attempt to demean the guy fell quite flat. The guy is VERY engaged now. His eyes are finally wide open. He's articulate. Very smart. And the Democrats worst nightmare. Thanks for raising his visibility.
March 25, 10:59 am
ron from UWS says:
I came to this story from a link on a different gay website with a disparaging comment about "this fool". All I know is that the gay community is surface talk about diversity. True diversity comes in the form of the one and only thing that actually separates us - and that is our mind. Our beliefs are different and we should engage with those with whom we disagree to learn and to educate - and nothing gets solved by ignoring a different view point. The gays have fallen hook line and sinker for the left all over the western world, and perhaps there was a time that was correct - but now, it is time to reassess.
March 28, 12:18 am
Jori from Chicago says:
So I'm to infer by the tone of your article that when you refer to "diversity", you mean anyone who thinks like you only. And when you support "freedom of speech", you mean freedom to say anything that person wants... as long as you agree with them. Otherwise it's time to confront, boycott, and if possible (when you think nobody else might be looking) maybe very exhort Antifa & Co. to throw a riot in that person's direction. Yeah, I get you, loud and clear. Great article!!
March 28, 5:46 am
Raz from Lathm says:
I read the article hoping for some even handedness. Sadly there was none. I walked away from the Democratic party in 2012 when I suddenly realized they wanted victims more they wanted people to succeed.
May 6, 3:59 pm
Dave from Kerns says:
Thank you for this article. I knew Brandon was a fake from the get go. I'm even more convinced that he's a political operative for the tRump organization and and extension of the "proud boys". It's pure propaganda. Nicely written speeches. Fancy productions. And who is his legal team that's suing the center for 20 million? He claims he's poor. Then how can he afford all the production costs neccessary to spread his message. He reminds me of Diamond and Silk. They too are and extension of the tRump mafia. Notice how trump alwasy talks about each of the minority groups as if he's doing a favor for all of them. With what we know now on how tRump and his mob organization works. Nothing is done honestly. My guess is "he left the democrat party" because the money was too good to pass up. Interesting how he states his "AA sponsor" left him. So that means he's an alcoholic. That explains even more. This dude is a rat. A Trump Rat.
June 16, 1:20 pm
Bill Smart from Coventry NY says:
You can be gay and like Trump. That is also diversity. I voted for Trump and I am not sorry. My 401K is doing great, he has passed prison reform, moved the embassy to Jerusalem, US companies returning to the US bring jobs, the lowest Black and Hispanic unemployment, getting rid of the Iran deal, finally dealing with our borders to the south, reigning in North Korea, waiting until 3 in the morning to welcome back prisoners from North Korea that he helped free. This is just the tip of the iceberg as to what he has accomplished in less than 2 years and with ZERO help from the congress. Your article is just "We hate Trump" and anyone who likes him. Not very diverse.
June 20, 11:24 am
Justin says:
The problem with this guy is not that he has a different viewpoint. The problem is, like most Right Wingers, they do not tell the truth. Listen to the things he said. He doesn't talk about what his new party does for him, all he does is make up false statements on what the Democrats are doing. Same old crap they always try...they basically accuse Democrats of doing what they are actually truth, it is borderline hate speech. No wonder there was concerns over his speaking. The organization has the right to say no to hate speech. Perhaps if he had a real agenda about issues...But ok, so whatever you want to think about that, where are the prominent people that have walked away. I know of nobody. Yet if you look at how many Republicans that have walked away from that party..there are lists of them. They left because the Republican party has lost its moral compass. Don't take my word for it. Try to find a list of names of people that are well know that embrace this movement that was formally liberal. Now do the same thing but the other way around. The Republicans will embrace anybody in a minority that they feel will talk on their behalf. And they usually end up with egg on their face. Look at the guy Milo...he was embraced hard by the Right as their token gay. But they dropped him like a hot potato when he proved to NOT be the easy puppet they thought he would be. And joe the plumber..remember that guy. Republicans take these people in so to speak, only to learn that perhaps this wasn't a good person to represent them...ANd that statement that this guy is Democrats worse nightmare is so stupid I laughed out loud. These people appear all the time and then vanish. I wouldn't be surprised if that was Straka himself that wrote that. Seriously LOL If he really does believe the hate he speaks, then I feel bad for him. I don't buy it though. For the primary reason what he says is false. Plain and simple. Seriously, and I know I am repeating myself here, but if he was for real he would spend the time talking about the policies and issues that he embraces of his new party, and how these specific issues would make life better for people. Notice how they never talk about stuff like that. I personally think, in my opinion, this is just another attempt to change the conversation and get tied up in bs...again everything but the true issues. People that build on the theme democrats are bad guys won't last long. They become very boring, even to the right that pretends to embrace them. The truth about this guy honestly, is based on his video, I think he is a major joke. It's too bad. It is always ok to have different viewpoints on real issues..that would mean the Republicans had some ideas rather than always making stuff up about everybody that isn't them.
June 30, 9:41 am

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