White Supremacist Under Scrutiny for Robocalls Using Mollie Tibbetts’ Death to Spread Hate

Another racist call mocked Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum.

A poster for missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts hangs in the window of a local business on August 21 in Brooklyn, Iowa. Charlie Neibergall/AP Photo

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

A neo-Nazi podcast host has come under scrutiny for a spate of racist robocalls in Iowa and Florida. The Iowa call uses the death of Mollie Tibbetts, the college student allegedly slain by a 24-year-old Mexican national last month, to propagate virulent anti-immigration rhetoric.

“The Aztec hybrids, known as mestizos, are low-IQ, bottom-feeding savages, and [that] is why the country they infest are crime-ridden failures,” the caller says, according to a recording obtained by Iowa Starting Line. “That’s now America’s fate too unless we re-found America as whites-only and get rid of them now. Every last one.”

The script also disputes comments by the Tibbetts family, who say their daughter wouldn’t have supported the calls for a more restrictive immigration policy that followed her death. Her alleged killer, Cristhian Bahena Rivera, is an undocumented immigrant, according to federal officials. 

The Florida calls, which came at the tail end of the Democratic primary for the gubernatorial race, mocked the black (and ultimately victorious) Democratic candidate, Andrew Gillum, using an exaggerated minstrel voice, with jungle noises in the background, the Tallahassee Democrat reports. (Gillum’s Republican rival, Ron DeSantis, who has himself been accused of using racist rhetoric, disavowed the calls.)

Both calls claim they were paid for by the Road to Power. The Road to Power is a video podcast hosted by Idaho white supremacist Scott Rhodes, according to the Spokesman-Review.

Rhodes was previously suspected of distributing racist propaganda in his Idaho hometown and in Alexandria, Virginia. According to the Des Moines Register, he has been linked to previous robocalls in California, Oregon, and Charlottesville, Virginia, the site of a violent white supremacist rally last year. The Iowa calls show a phone number associated with Brooklyn, Iowa, the town from which Tibbetts disappeared. The Hill reports that the Iowa attorney general’s office is investigating those calls and has alerted the state civil rights commission.  

Tibbetts’ body was discovered last week. Following news reports that the alleged perpetrator was undocumented, the Trump administration and several Republican politicians seized on the opportunity to blame Tibbetts’ death on lax immigration policy, even though most studies on the issue show that illegal immigration does not increase violent crime. 

Tibbetts’ father, Rob Tibbetts, commended the local Hispanic community last week for its help during the search for his daughter, saying, “The Hispanic community are Iowans. They have the same values as Iowans. As far as I’m concerned, they’re Iowans with better food.” Other family members, including one person who claims to be a distant cousin of Tibbetts, spoke out against what they called politicization of her death.


Despite what Tibbetts’ family has said publicly, the robocalls claim Tibbetts would not have supported “the invasion of America by a brown horde currently at a staggering 58 million…If after her life has now been brutally stolen from her she could be brought back to life for just one moment and asked, ‘What do you think now?’ Mollie Tibbetts would say, ‘Kill them all.’”

It goes on: “We don’t have to kill them all, but we do have to deport them all.”


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend