A Minnesota think tank parted ways Friday with its academic internship director following the publication of e-mails in which the man expressed racist and white nationalist views, including praise for Adolf Hitler.
John Elliott, 64, had served as a senior fellow since early 2018 at the Bloomington-based Charlemagne Institute, a nonprofit conservative organization dedicated to "defending and advancing Western civilization." He also was listed as the director of the institute's internship program.
A report published Thursday by Splinter News, a news and opinion website, included numerous messages written by Elliott between 2015 and 2018 to a private e-mail group known as "Morning Hate." In the conversations, Elliott and other participants regularly used racist and homophobic language. Elliott encouraged his associates to use code words in place of racial and anti-Semitic epithets in their messages and during in-person public "Hateups." The code words also were used to praise President Donald Trump and Hitler. Elliott referred to the German dictator as "our good friend."
"We have parted ways with John Elliott," said Charlemagne Institute Chief Executive Officer Devin Foley during an interview Friday. "We're disgusted and we feel betrayed."
Elliott's name and work also were scrubbed from the organization's website Friday. His bio said he holds a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University.
Elliott is currently traveling outside the country, Foley said. Several attempts to reach him for comment were unsuccessful.
In a statement to Splinter News, Elliott apologized for his remarks, saying some "were intended as jokes." He added that "I reject the concept of 'white nationalism.' "
Elliott previously directed the journalism program at the Institute for Humane Studies, a libertarian think tank affiliated with George Mason University in Virginia. The Splinter News report included an e-mail in which Elliott described recruiting a former institute intern into the "Morning Hate" group.
In March 2018, Elliott reached out to "Morning Hate" members for recommended reading material for his Charlemagne Institute interns, according to an e-mail published in the report.
Foley said Elliott came highly recommended by "prominent individuals and other organizations" and never expressed his views on race to his colleagues. He said his organization is investigating whether Elliott sought to recruit any of its current or former interns. Elliott's duties included arranging speakers for the interns, Foley said. Elliott's bio said he also directed seminars, organized events and mentored the organization's journalism interns.
The Charlemagne Institute, named for the 9th-century emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, publishes Chronicles magazine, which features essays from prominent conservative thinkers, as well as a blog that counts former Republican presidential candidate Pat Buchanan among its regular contributors. The tax-exempt organization reported $1.1 million in revenue in 2017. Its website does not list any donors.
Foley, whose bio includes a link to an interview he conducted about a "war against men," said the think tank promotes Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian ideas and values, but added that these are not synonymous with white identity.
"We fundamentally believe in Christian charity," Foley said. "Our duty is to love our brethren and not to judge people as a group."