Kelly Loeffler claims she had "no idea" that she was posing with a longtime Ku Klux Klan member after a photo of the senator with the man went viral on social media over the weekend.
A photo showing Loeffler with Chester Doles at a campaign event on Friday was widely circulated on social media with less than a month to go before the Georgia Senate runoff elections, which will determine which party will control the U.S. Senate.
The picture in question, which shows Loeffler posing alongside Doles, was shared on Doles' social media on Saturday along with the caption, "Kelly Loeffler and I. Save America, stop Socialism."
Shortly after Loeffler photo with Doles went viral, Bend the Arc,a progressive Jewish advocacy group, retweeted the picture of Loeffler smiling next to Doles along with the caption, "This is who [Loeffler] is proudly appealing to."
Who is Chester Doles?
Doles has spent decades as a member of the KKK and the neo-Nazi National Alliance. He was also sentenced to prison over a misdemeanor battery charge in connection to the 1993 beating of a black man, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Doles reportedly has also been tied to other white supremacist groups, including the Hammerskins, with with whom he marched in 2017′s violent United the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The supremacist group is also known as Hammerskin Nation, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has described as the "best organized, most widely dispersed and most dangerous Skinhead group."
Doles' reputation as a white supremacist was enough to get him ejected from a campaign rally in September featuring Loeffler and Rep.-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.). Loeffler claimed at the time that she was not aware of any controversy linked to Doles.
Loeffler Condemns Doles, Claims She Had 'No Idea'
Once again, Loeffler distanced herself from Doles, as her campaign spokesman said the senator did not know who he was when she posed for the photo with him.
"Kelly had no idea who that was, and if she had she would have kicked him out immediately because we condemn in the most vociferous terms everything that he stands for," Stephen Lawson, Loeffler's campaign spokesman, said in a statement Sunday to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Loeffler is currently campaigning ahead of the Peach State's critical Senate runoff races on Jan. 5. She faces off against Democratic contender the Rev. Raphael Warnock.
Loeffler is "once again trying to distance herself from someone who is a known white supremacist," said a statement from the campaign of Rev. Raphael Warnock, Loeffler's Democratic rival in one of Georgia's two upcoming Senate runoffs. "There's no acceptable explanation for it happening once, let alone a second time," the statement added, referring to the September rally.