Wisconsin Lt. Governor and Democratic Senate candidate Mandela Barnes denounced the police numerous times while appearing on a Kremlin-funded network as a state lawmaker.
Barnes interviewed on RT, formerly known as Russia Today, on six occasions throughout 2015 and 2016, according to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report.
Barnes is challenging incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., in a battleground race that has narrowed in recent weeks as Johnson has honed in on Barnes’ ‘soft-on-crime policies.’ Throughout his time within Wisconsin state government, Barnes has signaled support for defunding the police and abolishing ICE.
RT is Russia’s state-funded English-language media network that is considered to be a key asset of the Kremlin’s propaganda arm, according to the U.S. State Department.
The network is central to Russia’s ‘disinformation ecosystem, using the guise of conventional international media outlets to provide disinformation and propaganda support for the Kremlin’s foreign policy objectives,’ according to a State Department report.
In a 2015 appearance on RT, Barnes referred to police brutality as a ‘total epidemic’ in the United States, later posting an Instagram thanking the Russian state television network for his interview. In another appearance in 2016, Barnes described the violence displayed at Black Lives Matters protests as a ‘human reaction’ to the police.
‘Trashing American law enforcement on Russian state TV and allowing himself to be used by Vladamir Putin’s propagandists is as bad as it gets,’ said Alec Zimmerman, communications director for the Johnson campaign, in a statement.