Thursday, July 25, 2024

Closer to Christ — and critics

Staff Writer | October 2, 2021 1:07 AM

Post Falls school board candidate David Reilly says his past has brought him closer to Christ.

That past has also brought him closer to critics.

Reilly, running for Zone 5, told The Press that his strong belief in education led to his decision to run for the school board.

“Childhood education is absolutely foundational,” Reilly said. “It shapes the individual and, on a societal level, it can shape the nation.”

Background searches show a 2012 arrest on his record and reflect what some citizens say are reasons Reilly should not be a trustee, including his documented commentaries on race, religion, homosexuality and politics.

The arrest stems from a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge against Reilly in Columbia County, Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Code defines disorderly conduct, in part, as engaging in fighting, threatening or violent behavior in public. Reilly pleaded guilty in June 2012 and was placed on probation for 12 months.

The Press also did criminal background checks on the other Post Falls school board candidates and found that despite a few citations for speeding, vehicle registration and failure to give notice for change of address, everyone was squeaky clean.

PFSD board chair Dave Paul is among Reilly’s critics. Paul dropped out of the race and is now supporting another candidate for Zone 5.

“I am deeply concerned about David Reilly running for school board,” Paul wrote to The Press on Thursday. “He is a man with no real ties to our schools or our community and has only lived here one year. More importantly, he has a long history of racist rhetoric and connections to white supremacists and antisemites.”

Reilly has been endorsed by the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee.

Before living in North Idaho, Reilly worked in digital media production for Culture Wars Magazine, Catholic Family News and his family-owned radio station, WHLM in Pennsylvania.

“It was a family business,” Reilly said. “I actually won an award for my broadcast series on the opioid crisis from the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters.”

While at the radio station, Reilly reported on the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., and interviewed event organizer Jason Kessler. According to a 2017 report by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the event was the “largest gathering of white nationalists in more than a decade, with more than 500 protesters.”

According to Pennsylvania media accounts, Reilly faced community backlash from his reporting, which some listeners considered supportive rather than objective. Bomb threats and harassment toward Reilly and his family eventually led Reilly to resign, he said.

“I was libeled viciously, slandered and defamed by radical activists,” Reilly said. “I was threatened, and the business was threatened with bomb threats. I had to tender my resignation in a bulletproof vest because I did an interview with someone.”

After leaving WHLM, Reilly spent two years writing for Culture Wars Magazine, an Indiana publication founded by E. Michael Jones. The media organization described itself as “the premier resource for understanding how cultural warfare has advanced the interests of the American Empire and its systems of political control.”

In a 2019 article written by Reilly for Culture Wars entitled “Generation Identity Crisis,” the candidate describes how “youth living in Western democracies have all been subjected to ruthless forms of social engineering, which has led to a serious identity crisis.”

“By choosing a Catholic identity, we have the added peace of mind coming from the fact that it has an objective system of beliefs which cannot be jeopardized by a subjectivist interpretation of the Scriptures,” Reilly wrote. “Although it’s true that the Catholic Church has been infiltrated by homosexuals, Jews, and bad leadership, the Catholic faith is too old and too deeply internalized and too minutely codified to be co-opted by the evil intentions of social engineers.”

In a video on Reilly’s YouTube account from March, the candidate talks about cancel culture, his media experience and his involvement with the pro-Trump movement. At one point in the video, Reilly talks about a radio segment he produced called “The Ramadan-Bomb-a-thon” on Islamic terrorist attacks.

“That really didn’t make people happy,” Reilly said in the video. “They wanted an excuse to get me taken off.”

On Monday, Reilly told The Press that he has “been subjected to incredible financial, social and personal hardships because he was a public supporter of Donald Trump.”

“As a result of these attacks on me and my family by radical left-wing activists, I have been able to more closely imitate Jesus Christ, who was mocked, scourged, put on a show trial, spat upon and ultimately killed,” Reilly said. “I’m extremely blessed to be able to participate in that suffering for Christ’s sake.”

In his comments to The Press, outgoing board member Paul urged residents to “do their research on all board candidates prior to the November election.”