RFK Jr.’s Adviser Leaves Campaign, Citing ‘Hateful and Divisive Atmosphere’

RFK Jr.’s Adviser Leaves Campaign, Citing ‘Hateful and Divisive Atmosphere’

A key adviser to Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is stepping away from his presidential campaign, citing an “increasingly hateful and divisive atmosphere” that “no longer aligns with my values.”

Angela Stanton King, the campaign’s adviser for Black engagement, announced her departure in a statement on social media on Tuesday evening, five months after she was added to the campaign’s payroll. In a text message, Ms. Stanton King said she had “switched to an informal role.” Asked for the reason for the switch, she pointed to her statement on social media.

“After much reflection, I’ve decided to step away from the political theater,” that statement said. “The increasingly hateful and divisive atmosphere no longer aligns with my values.”

The Kennedy campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Ms. Stanton King was a high-profile figure in the Kennedy campaign, appearing with Mr. Kennedy and Nicole Shanahan, his running mate, on the campaign trail and addressing crowds at rallies. In Ms. Shanahan’s debut campaign event in Houston this month, Ms. Stanton King spoke at length and introduced the candidate to the crowd, saying, “I don’t fall in love with a lot of people, but I fell in love with Nicole.”

She was one of many advisers, staff members and consultants for Mr. Kennedy who had previous ties with or were supporters of former President Donald J. Trump. Ms. Stanton King was pardoned by Mr. Trump in 2020 after serving six months of home confinement in 2007 for her role in a stolen-vehicle ring, and soon after ran as a Republican for a U.S. House seat in Atlanta.

An avowed adherent of the QAnon conspiracy theory at the time of her House campaign, Ms. Stanton King later supported Mr. Trump’s claims of a rigged election after she lost her race in a landslide, eventually calling for a military coup to oust President Biden in early 2021. (She has since deleted her post calling for a coup.)

Ms. Stanton-King was also heavily involved in Georgia grass-roots Republican events, particularly as they related to Black voter outreach. During Herschel Walker’s unsuccessful Senate campaign in 2022, Ms. Stanton-King stirred some conflict when she participated in a campaign event for Mr. Walker that gave potential voters gasoline vouchers.

The Kennedy team has been waging an internal battle over the campaign’s abortion platform. Mr. Kennedy had previously said that he would not support government restrictions on abortion care, but reversed himself this month after a public pressure campaign from Ms. Shanahan and Ms. Stanton King, who is an anti-abortion activist and advocate for criminal justice reform.

In an interview with the podcaster Sage Steele that ran this month, Mr. Kennedy said he would not support government restrictions on abortion care, even if that would allow women to terminate their pregnancies after the point of viability — usually about 24 weeks.

“I don’t think it’s ever OK,” Mr. Kennedy said, adding “we have to leave it to the women rather than the state.”

That position appeared to come as a surprise to Ms. Shanahan, who has called for a national abortion ban at roughly 15 to 18 weeks. She had her own interview with Ms. Steele on which she said Mr. Kennedy “absolutely believes in limits on abortion, and we’ve talked about this.”

An impassioned debate then played out inside the campaign on the eve of Ms. Shanahan’s planned debut on the campaign trail at the event in Houston. Ms. Stanton King repeatedly attacked Mr. Kennedy for his position on social media, at one point suggesting that she was considering quitting the campaign entirely.

In Ms. Stanton King’s account, the dispute only ended after “a bunch of going back and forth with not only Bobby but also people on the campaign,” and after Mr. Kennedy called her and agreed to change his position. Mr. Kennedy did so a few hours later, saying in a social media post that he would now support “restrictions on abortion in the final months of pregnancy, just as Roe v. Wade did.”

Maya King contributed reporting.

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