Reports say Black and Latinx people were paid to attend President Donald Trump's first public rally since he tested positive for the novel coronavirus, BET reported on Sunday (October 11). ABC News obtained emails that claim BLEXIT, a group founded by conservative speaker Candace Owens in 2018, compensated Black and Latinx people for their travel and lodging. BLEXIT is a campaign aimed at urging "African Americans to leave the Democratic Party."
ABC News said supporters were at to fill out a form for the organization to cover their travel costs to a separate BLEXIT event and Trump's outdoor event at the White House. One of Owens' emails to attendees said "EVERYONE MUST BRING A MASK TO BE ALLOWED ENTRY ONTO THE WHITE HOUSE GROUNDS" with "absolutely no exceptions." White House officials later said masks were recommended, not required, to attend the event. Attendees were also required to wear a BLEXIT T-shirt provided to them with "no exceptions," another email stated.
The Saturday (October 10) White House event was already drawing concerns since the event didn't require social distancing on top of relaxed mask rules. Trump thanked the Black and Latinx community along with White House staff and members of law enforcement. He also addressed Owens' organization and the attendees with her organization.
“I want to thank the BLEXIT Foundation for organizing this event,” the president said. “Thank you very much. Thank you. And especially your two founders, two friends of mine, great people: Candace Owens and former Tucson police officer Brandon Tatum. Thank you both. Great job. What a great job. Two really brilliant, smart, young people.”
ABC News asked Owens about the event and COVID-19 safety protocols, and the BLEXIT founder said, "We are not interested in participating in your obvious media angle here to slander/attack the President regarding Covid-19." She argued the event was focused on supporting law enforcement in minority communities.
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