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The 3 Men Behind Americans for Sheriff Joe: William Saracino & Allen Brandstater (Part 2)


Aaron Patrick Flanagan • Jul 25, 2012

William Saracino (l) & Allen Brandstater (r)

Yesterday, June 24, we posted part 1 of our 4-part look at Americans for Sheriff Joe (AfSJ), which focused on John Philip Sousa IV, chairman of AfSJ.

Today, in Part 2, we’ll focus on the men who coordinate the over-1-million dollar direct mail fundraising effort that is AfSJ: William “Bill” Saracino, the group’s political director; and Allen Brandstater, it’s executive director.

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On the AfSJ website, which is registered to Sousa (who also serves on the Federation of American Immigration Reform’s National Advisory Board), all 3 men present lengthy bios layered with Conservative superlatives, and former positions at far-Right and Christian-Right groups.

Indeed, Saracino and Brandstater both have personal-political records of activism within the far-to-fringe Right that can be traced back to southern California in the late 1960s. That in mind, each chose to omit a single common connection from their AfSJ CVs: in 2005 all 3 held leadership positions and helped to launch Americans Against Illegal Immigration (AAII) PAC.

AAII closed its doors in 2010. According to the Seattle Times, its then head, Brandstater, claimed they were terminating operations because “In the last election, you were called racist if you wanted to protect the sovereignty of borders.” (AAII’s treasurer, Scott Mackenize, is now treasurer for The Conservative StrikeForce PAC, which is also supporting AfSJ’s fundraising efforts.)

Brandstater’s phone number and business address are also on-file with the AZ secretary of state’s office as the contact info for AfSJ, though his name does not appear.

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Saracino and Brandstater’s bond is one of extended friendship steeped in the intentionally murky—a cloudiness that only heightens its potency—political alchemy that was the American Christian Right of the 1970s-to-today. As Russ Bellant writes in his excellent book The Coors Connection, this was a movement tempered by the oppositional fires lit by the 1960’s Left; a movement that emerged hardened, yet slicker and subtler, and better funded via the likes of the Coors and Scaife families—the racist elite bent on forever solidifying a White majority, the bottom-less wealth of America’s 1/10th of 1%.

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Saracino (back-left) at a Young Americans for Freedom gathering in 1971

Saracino’s and Brandstater’s rise to associating with such elites begins with the University of Southern California’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF). And for the two, YAF’s slogan certainly applies: “The Conservative Movement Starts Here.” YAF is widely considered by political analysts as the launching pad for a generation of young leaders that would shape Conservatism into the New Right we recognize today. Some of them launched influential careers, Saracino and Brandstater among them, via early and sustained involvements with the numerous campaigns of Barry Goldwater and of Ronald Reagan, YAF’s Honorary National Chairman, especially.

Brandstater worked on a Goldwater campaign and Reagan’s, joining the YAF at 20 years-old before doing so. Saracino himself worked for Jesse Helms, and would go on to raise millions for Reagan’s campaigns.

On January 21, 1971, a then 23 year-old Brandstater was quoted several times in a story run in The Modesto Bee. One quote particularly stands out as an axiom, almost a prediction, that defines how these 2 men—and much of those who are discussed in their separate individual profiles (Parts 3 and 4; links below)—would undertake their future doings-and-dealings:

Brandstater (l) introducing Ronald Reagan (r) at a 1968 event

“Most of you have never heard of YAF because the things we do rarely make the news.”

When policy cannot be traced to its progenitors, only the policy itself can be opposed. And so said progenitors are free to move, to meet, to pass millions of dollars between themselves, to continue forging more policies and collectively authoring culture via these connections they’ve made.

For example, according to a March 2001 article from California Political Review, Saracino traveled to North Carolina to work on Jesse Helms’ Senate campaign. Thomas F. Ellis was running Helms’ primary campaign at this time. A year later Ellis became the director of the racist, pro-eugenics Pioneer Fund, a position he held until 1977. Ellis would later become a member of the executive committee who voted unanimously to accept Saracino’s application for membership into the Council for National Policy in 1984.

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Saracino has pretty much followed the “anti-spotlight” axiom, but Brandstater hasn’t always—openly espousing bigotry to the press on a few occasions, and getting caught up in local political scandals. The links below, though, lead to detailed-yet-accessible bulleted outlines of each man’s deep involvement with religious- and extremist-Right wing activists.

Not the least of which is their present steering of the fundraising efforts of their group Americans for Sheriff Joe.

  • Click here for William Saracino’s profile (Part 3).
  • Click here for Allen Brandstater’s profile (Part 4).

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Read: Part 1Part 3Part 4

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