Turning Point USA is a conservative advocacy group geared toward mobilizing young voters. The group has also had a long list of controversies involving racist or racially inflammatory incidents by its members and leaders.
An article in The New Yorker in 2017 quoted several African Americans associated with the organization as alleging racial discrimination, with one woman claiming she had been fired on Martin Luther King Day. The piece also quoted Crystal Clanton, then a top executive with the organization, stating “I hate black people.”
Earlier this month, Splinter News reported that the organization had expelled Riley Grisar, the head of its Las Vegas chapter, after a video surfaced of him using racial slurs and talking about “white power.”
Now, there’s been another, similar controversy. Kyle Kashuv, who rose to fame as a Parkland High School student who opposed the gun control activism of his classmates after the 2018 massacre at that school and even once met with President Trump in the Oval Office, acknowledged this week that he sent racist text messages that had been circulating, per The Daily Beast.
Kashuv had held a position as Turning Point’s high school outreach director, but he announced last week that he was leaving that position prior to the controversy involving the messages. He had claimed that he was leaving Turning Point because he was going to college, and his contract had expired.
In a statement posted to his Twitter account that did not appear to contain a full-on apology, Kashuv said that he had made the statements when he was 16-years-old. Kashuv is currently 18; he was 16 in 2017, at a time when Donald Trump was president.
NEW: Pro-gun Parkland teen Kyle Kashuv apologizes for “inflammatory” racial comments https://t.co/JcYvTV6SNu— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) May 23, 2019
“We were 16-year-olds making idiotic comments, using callous and inflamatory [sic] language in an effort to be as extreme and shocking as possible,” Kashuv wrote. “I’m embarrassed by it, but I want to be clear that the comments I made are not indicative of who I am and who I’ve become in the years since.”
He went on to note that he has been changed by the experience of surviving the Parkland shooting.
Kashuv met with President Trump in the White House in March of 2018, per the Sun-Sentinel.
“Wonderful to meet @KyleKashuv today,” first lady Melania Trump tweeted after the meeting. “His message of unity is one we should all share. Thank you for visiting us at the @WhiteHouse and hope you enjoyed your surprise meeting with @potus!”
Kashuv is set to attend Harvard in the fall, per The Daily Beast.