A newly elected Republican committeeman from Luzerne County is making headlines this week.
Apparently, so few people ran for the committee post that Steve Smith wrote himself in and was elected with just a couple of votes.
Now he is having to answer for some controversies in his past because of his involvement with a white nationalist skinhead group.
The election of Steve Smith of Pittston to the Luzerne County Republican committee caught the attention of the national internet blogs.
Smith used to be a member of the Keystone Skinheads, a white nationalist group with a history of violence and ethnic intimidation. In 2003, Scranton police charged Smith with ethnic intimidation. He pleaded guilty and spent two months in jail, but Smith said he is a changed man and left the group several years ago.
He explained Monday why he left the group.
"Just because of the nature of the name skinhead. People get a knee-jerk reaction from it and they think of movies like American History X and think we are a bunch of violent thugs and we don't listen to you so that's why I got away from that," said Smith.
He added he ran for the Luzerne County Republican Committee opening in April because no one else did. His write-in campaign gave him less than a handful of votes, but that was enough to land him a spot on the committee which helps recruit Republican candidates.
"I am going to try and get candidates not to be cowardly on these issues. You saw what happened in Wilkes-Barre. The crime rate is out of control. People are moving in from New York and Philadelphia and people are afraid to address the problem head on without fear of being called a racist or white supremacist," said Smith.
He calls himself a white activist who wants equal rights for whites and minorities. He said he does not hate African Americans.
"In fact I admire a few blacks. Walter E. Williams, Larry Elder and Thomas Sowell and they write the same things I say and they derided as Uncle Toms and sellouts. We get hell over anything that tells the truth we get called names instead of trying to find solutions to the problems," said Smith.
"No I'm not a racist. A racist is someone by the definition that someone that hates other races which I do not. Just standing up for white people, yeah. That's it," said Smith.
The Luzerne County Republican Committee released a statement to Newswatch 16 stating that Smith was elected with just one vote, most likely his own. The statement also said, "We denounce Mr. Smith and his abhorrent views and would like to make it clear that in no way do his personal views reflect the views of the Republican Party."