How Did a White Supremacist Get a Job as an Equal Employment Officer?

How Did a White Supremacist Get a Job as an Equal Employment Officer?

Sutton Whitfield LLC, a Maryland-based technology recruitment firm, “provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment,” according to a statement published on its website, “without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetics.”

The statement, by Manjit Singh, the company’s president and CEO, went on to say that the person overseeing fair hiring was “my business partner, Gregory Conte,” who was Sutton Whitfield’s Equal Employment Opportunity Officer. Corporate filings say Gregory Conte owns 49 percent of Sutton Whitfield, while Manjit Singh owns 51 percent, which qualifies Sutton Whitfield as a Small Disadvantaged Business with the Small Business Administration, a designation for companies owned by minorities.

It’s not Conte’s only business partnership: In September, corporate filings in Wyoming show, he formed a company called Tyr 1 Security, in partnership with a man named Brian Brathovd. Brian Brathovd has security experience: He is the bodyguard for Richard Spencer, the media-friendly white nationalist leader.

And Greg Conte—under the name Greg Ritter—has since August been the full-time director of operations for the National Policy Institute, Spencer’s white-supremacist think tank. In Charlottesville and Washington D.C., Conte, the equal-employment officer, stood at Spencer’s right hand. “I don’t know what would have happened to me in Charlottesville, or the alt right as a whole, without Greg,” Spencer said in a recent podcast. “Greg protected me as we fled the melee.”

“You could say it’s somewhat ironic,” Conte told Splinter in a phone conversation.

The unmasking of racists has become a familiar script, one that is often authored initially by local anti-fascist and anti-racist activists who infiltrate reactionary networks and identify individuals within them. As white nationalists have become more assertive and more visible, they have been more likely to be recognized in their everyday lives—as a college student, a hot dog restaurant worker, a former Marine recruiter.

In Conte’s case, a self-identified “fascist,” who discussed racial superiority on a podcast he hosted, was listed as being in charge of nondiscrimination policy for a company that described its work as “recruiting, vetting and placing IT specialists with the federal government, primary contractors, and subcontractors,” according to its website. The archived show notes for one now-deleted podcast indicate that Conte and his co-host discussed the “illegality of discrimination based on immigration status.” The notes include a link to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s guidance on the matter.

At first, Conte’s exposure seemed to follow the usual pattern: The connection between Sutton Whitfield and Spencer’s National Policy Institute was a single phone number in a confidential document obtained and published by Atlanta Antifascists. The document was a guide to planning and security for Spencer’s visit to the University of Florida on October 19th, referred to internally as Operation Gator. “We are taking security extremely seriously, and are keeping planning within our trusted group,” the leaked guide says. “Cell phones must have an unlock code. This code must be at least 4 numbers (AND NOT ‘1488′).” This is a joke about white supremacist numerology: 14, for the “14 Words” slogan (“We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”); and 88 for “Heil Hitler” (H is the eighth letter of the alphabet).

The event required coordination between NPI staff and all the various other white nationalists going to Florida—including Identity Evropa, Patriot Front (a rebranded splinter of Vanguard America, the group that the accused Charlottesville killer James Alex Fields marched with), and members of the League of the South, Anti-Communist Action, and so-called Daily Stormer book clubs. For central information, document referred participants to a phone number for Ritter. A search by Atlanta Antifascists found the same number on the Sutton Whitfield website, listed as the phone number for Conte, the equal employment opportunity officer.

In the same podcast in which Spencer expressed his gratitude to Conte for protecting him against militant anti-fascists, Conte bragged, “I was basically trying to get doxxed.” He went on to provide some further background information about himself, noting that he studied Russian at Georgetown University, where he was kicked out of the ROTC program. He recalled getting fired from a position working at an all-girls Catholic school. He did not, however, mention Sutton Whitfield.

Conte confirmed to Splinter that he had worked at Sutton Whitfield, and said that he had left the company a few months ago, by mutual agreement. His political activities, he said, had nothing to do with his leaving, nor had his beliefs interfered with his ability to guide the firm’s affirmative action employment policies. He compared himself to a communist bookseller who sells books under capitalism.

“I work within the existing political system,” he said. “I treat people as they are.”

Manjit Singh, reached by email, offered a slightly different account of Conte’s departure from Sutton Whitfield: “A Mr. Conte was at one point employed at this company, but was terminated due to performance issues,” Singh wrote. “Other than that, it is company policy not to comment on current and former employee matters, due to legal concerns. We appreciate your concern for our company’s reputation in bringing these activities to our attention, but again we stress our company’s policy of not commenting because of legal reasons.”

Singh’s comment took the form of a corporate statement; the details, however, were off: saying an employee was fired for “performance issues” seems contrary to Singh’s twice-stated policy of not commenting on employment matters, for legal reasons. “A Mr. Conte” was an oddly distant way for a company’s president to refer to his listed business partner. And no new paperwork has been filed to show that Conte’s partnership status has changed since his purported separation from the company.

But oddities surround Sutton Whitfield. Its website claims the ability to meet a wide variety of technology staffing needs—including “Content Management Systems,” “Application Development,” “Cyber-Security,” and “Accounting Services”—through a recruitment process that uses “the latest in big data, predictive analysis, and machine learning techniques” to identify job candidates.

“We also offer employment background checks, drug tests, and background screenings,” the site says.

The site features a section on government contracting, with official classification codes for its different services. Yet there’s no mention of which agencies, if any, would have contracted with it—nor are there any testimonials or lists of other customers. The company also does not appear in public records for businesses receiving federal funds.

When I began reporting this story, the company, based outside Washington, D.C., listed ten employees on LinkedIn, including some as far flung as Ithaca, New York; Miami, Florida; and Austria. (Now it lists nine.)

One of those listed employees, a first-year college student, told Splinter that they no longer were with the company, and had worked strictly from home as an unpaid intern, while still in high school. The ex-employee would not discuss the details of the job, saying they had signed a non-disclosure agreement.

A call to another listed employee’s phone number was answered by a man who identified himself as that person’s father, and who said he did not know anything about Sutton Whitfield, Manjit Singh, or Gregory Conte.

Attempts to contact other employees were unsuccessful; aside from Singh’s initial statement, provided by email, to confirm that Conte had been employed at the company, it proved extremely difficult to get anyone at Sutton Whitfield to return emails or phone calls.

Conte himself declined to discuss his actual duties for the firm other than to confirm his role as an EEO Officer and to say he had left by mutual agreement: He was spending too much time on his political activism, he said, and it was detracting from his work for the company. If he had not left, Conte told Splinter, he would have been fired. “It was sort of a ‘take the hemlock’ situation,” he said.

Sutton Whitfield was incorporated in 2015, filings show, but it was only in December of 2016 that Conte was officially made a partner. His history of pseudonymous online racism predated his becoming a diversity officer, however: Conte, as Ritter, started the small but influential white supremacist blog Atavistic Intelligentsia with his friend Vincent Law, producing podcasts and racist screeds; now, Conte and Law help run, a project of Richard Spencer’s National Policy Institute.

“Only fascists can feel real sympathy,” Conte wrote in July 2016, echoing decades of self-aggrandizing right-wing mysticism. “Sympathy, real sympathy, derives from a sense of tragedy–the fatalistic understanding that bad things will happen. The fascist understands that other people are different from him and that they have their own aims, which sometimes conflict with his. Thus, he does not deem his enemies morally defective for opposing him. What are enemies for? My enemy and I strive to do each other harm. That is sad. If I were my enemy, I would do the same to me. That we find ourselves locked in a life-struggle against the Muslims is, and I really feel this, tragic. But it would be insane to pretend the struggle is not there.”

In another blog post, titled “Shittiest Race War Ever,” Conte lamented that a trip to Munich did not end in ethnic cleansing. “I came to Europe fantasizing that this summer, it would be all in the open. I could hook up with some Serbian death squads and go full-Srebrenica on some kebabs. But instead we have this. There’s simmering racial tension, frequent attacks in random locations, and consummately triggering race-cucking–about which we can do nothing but meme and dream.”

Asked about his writing, Conte downplayed the seriousness of it. “You can’t take these things at face value,” he said. “They’re written with a heavy dose of irony.” He went on to complain about how the fascistic and ethno-nationalist trends gaining influence in American politics are misunderstood. He described himself as coming from a “counterintuitive background,” saying he was a scholar of languages including Russian and Arabic and citing political theorists like Oswald Spenger and Peter Turchin as influences.

Shortly after we spoke, all of the content published on Atavistic Intelligentsia was deleted. The website was subsequently taken offline altogether.

Among the now-missing content are podcasts Conte hosted with another racist who went by the name George Singh, and who said he was a Sikh man who had been influenced by the Austrian School libertarian Ludwig von Mises. Short descriptions of the podcasts remain on archived versions of the Atavistic Intelligentsia blog:

Ritter and Singh tackle the most difficult question in Western thought: Metaphysical Jewdaism. Why are some people, who appear to be Aryan, so goddamn Jewish in spirit? SJWs and academics, SWPLs and hipsters, is there something in the water?
The AI bros intended to cover India, but got side-tracked by the Jews. Ritter, Singh and Storminnorman break down the ethnogenesis of this unique people. How did their evolutionary strategy develop? How did they spread throughout Europe? What is the secret of their… uh… (((success)))?
Even model minorities bring social costs: ethnic nepotism, test scams, and market manipulation. East Asians and Indians can be more dangerous than they look. Ritter and Singh compare high- and low-achieving minorities, and learn that the Yellow Peril is real. Hunker down for the Asian immivasion!

And then there was the episode in which they discussed the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

In an interview with yet another alt-right podcast, Red Ice, which Singh recorded after he had attended last year’s National Policy Institute conference in Washington, D.C., he described his cultural tradition and his politics as both being reactions against Islam.”The alt right is a lot like Sikhism in so far as it’s a response to the spread of a foreign tradition,” Singh said. “The Sikh faith in some sense is not really even a religion—at least by Western standards. It’s a military cult that eventually started LARPing as a religion.” He shared that he became an “alt-righter” after being exposed to the “J.Q.,” short for the “Jewish Question.”

For her part, podcast host Lana Lokteff recalled her surprise at meeting Singh at the conference:

Lokteff: You were one of the first people that greeted me…you were smiling and kind and wearing a turban! I was like, hmm, this is interesting.
Singh: Ha ha, yeah, probably threw you off there.
Lokteff: But of course you turned out to be a very cool guy.

In the same interview, Singh praised the current prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, for having “looked the other way during a genocide of Muslims” as Chief Minister of Gujarat, referring to a wave of ethnic cleansing in which thousands of people were killed and 150,000 were displaced. “I hope he continues to look the other way as the natives respond as they should,” Singh said.

He also mocked the idea that race and gender have social elements, disclosing that he’d been researching different state laws governing changing one’s sex on paper and recommending that his white friends identify as Hispanic in an effort to circumvent affirmative action statutes. “I sometimes put down that I’m African-American,” he said, laughing. “All Man originated from Africa, so we n*ggas now.”

Red Ice deleted the episode from its Youtube channel and its website after being contacted by Splinter; an archived version remains here. Conte declined to provide contact information for George Singh, explaining that “he really values his privacy.”

Shortly after the National Policy Institute conference, VICE published a portrait and short interview with Singh, identifying him as a “one of Richard Spencer’s key volunteers.” Atavistic Intelligentsia sneered at VICE for boosting their co-host’s profile: “AI has always been a strong supporter of Affirmative Action, and we were pleased to see our active efforts to create a multicultural team finally paid off.”

The man in the Vice photograph, his face turned away from the camera, wore a dark turban, rectangular glasses, a dark dress jacket, a gray sweater or vest, a light blue shirt, and a red bow tie with wide white stripes between narrow darker ones. Manjit Singh, in his LinkedIn profile photo, wore what appeared to be the same outfit, down to the striped bow tie. Shortly after he issued his statement to Splinter about Conte, Singh changed his profile picture and stopped responding to follow-up questions.

After repeatedly declining to comment on the question, Conte eventually said that the George Singh who had co-hosted the Atavistic Intelligentsia podcast, had attended the NPI conference, and had given the Red Ice interview was not the Manjit Singh who he worked with at Sutton Whitfield. “Why would I have my boss on my podcast?” he asked.

Presented with the similarities between the two, Conte said, “Well, that’s all just circumstantial.”

In any case, two other people who had attended the conference said they recognized the person shown in Manjit Singh’s LinkedIn photo as having been there. “He was definitely at the front table, checking people in on Saturday,” one recalled.

Last month, hoping to find Manjit Singh and to learn more about Sutton Whitfield’s business activities, I drove to the company’s office address in Frederick, Maryland, about an hour outside Washington, D.C. Rather than being in an office complex, it was in a residential development full of nondescript townhouses.

The headquarters building was one of those townhouses, the second in from the end of its block, with sagging plain beige siding. A crooked white plastic picket fence stood outside, and garbage and dead leaves gathered in a corner of the front yard. The paint on the screen door was peeling. The windows were dark. At two o’clock in the afternoon on a weekday, nobody answered the door; at six o’clock, there was still no response.

In the backseat of a car parked directly outside, paperwork with the name “Manjit Singh” sat next to a copy of Ludwig von Mises’ Human Action. A passing neighbor told me that he hadn’t seen anyone come in or out of the building in weeks.

Additional reporting by Kashmir Hill. If you have information about Sutton Whitfield or any other alt-right scheme, please get in touch.

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