All eyes within the pro-Trump movement are currently on Milo Yiannopoulos’s much-hyped ‘Free Speech Week’ event in Berkeley, which is scheduled to take place next week. Most of the attention is being focused on Day 4 of the event, when the most high profile speakers – conservative commentator Ann Coulter, YouTube personality Sargon of Akkad, former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, and Yiannopoulos himself – are scheduled to address attendees.
However, the speaker list for that day also lists an apparent warmup speaker for these individuals, someone named ‘Stelion Onufrei’. At first glance, the relatively unknown Onufrei may be mistaken for a host or organizer of the event, but closer examination reveals that he is actually a long-shot Republican candidate for Congress in California’s 48th district, primarying libertarian-leaning Rep. Dana Rohrabacher.
Although Rohrabacher initially supported Ted Cruz’s presidential bid before backing Trump as the Republican nominee, he has endeared himself to many Trump supporters through his strident support for normalization of relations with Russia. Earlier this year, Rohrabacher even travelled to the Ecuadorian embassy in London to meet Wikileaks head Julian Assange in order to negotiate a deal to absolve Assange from his current legal predicament with the U.S. government.
Onufrei’s campaign appears to be focused on two main issues where he differs from Rohrabacher. Firstly, he opposes Rohrabacher’s stance on Russia, espousing a much more conventionally hawkish approach, and viciously attacking Rohrabacher for the Assange meeting. In addition, unlike Rohrabacher, he is not in favor of the legalization of recreational marijuana, despite the fact that California voted to legalize it last year. In both instances, Onufrei seems to have desperately little in common with the bulk of Yiannopoulos’s followers.
Although the rally is ostensibly solely about free speech, the event overwhelmingly features Trump’s most committed supporters, with the speakers list drawing predominantly from prominent advocates of his ‘America First’ ideology. Onufrei is the only candidate for office slated to speak. Given the fact that the fourth day of event is set to feature Bannon’s first public appearance since his resignation as Chief Strategist, it is expected to receive extensive media coverage. It is almost certain that his warmup speaker, Onufrei, will be a substantial beneficiary of this coverage.
Other leaders within the Trump grassroots are deeply dissatisfied with Onufrei being granted such a high profile slot. Chuck Johnson, the editor-in-chief of Gotnews, who accompanied him to the Assange meeting, was particularly inflamed, blaming Yiannopoulos for the situation.
“It’s quite simple,” Johnson told The Liberty Conservative. “Milo is a fraud.”
Johnson previously had a degree of affiliation with Yiannopoulos, appearing on live streams with him late last year.
Yiannopoulos declined to comment on Johnson’s remarks, and appeared to distance himself from the makeup of the speaking list, telling The Liberty Conservative that “Stelion Onufrei was invited by the event’s organizers, the Berkeley Patriot”.
Furthermore, some reports suggest that the event may not go ahead at all. Even Yiannopoulos’s closest allies, like Mike Cernovich and Lucian Wintrich, have expressed seething criticism of him and other event organizers in response to the ongoing debacle. Mediaite has claimed that Yiannopoulos intends to cancel the rally at a press conference in San Francisco tomorrow, although this report has yet to be verified.