A U.S. State Department official oversaw the Washington, D.C.-area chapter of a white nationalist organization, hosted white nationalists at his home and published white nationalist propaganda online.
By Michael Edison Hayden
Hatewatch / Southern Poverty Law Center (8/7/19)
A U.S. State Department official oversaw the Washington, D.C.-area chapter of a white nationalist organization, hosted white nationalists at his home and published white nationalist propaganda online, Hatewatch has determined.
The official, Matthew Q. Gebert, works as a foreign affairs officer assigned to the Bureau of Energy Resources, a State Department spokesperson told Hatewatch. Online, and in private correspondences with other white nationalists, Gebert uses “Coach Finstock” as a pseudonym. Through that alias, he expressed a desire to build a country for whites only.
“[Whites] need a country of our own with nukes, and we will retake this thing lickety split,” “Coach Finstock” said on a May 2018 episode of “The Fatherland,” a white nationalist podcast. “That’s all that we need. We need a country founded for white people with a nuclear deterrent. And you watch how the world trembles.”
Gebert joined the State Department in 2013 as a presidential management fellow, according to an alumni update published about him in George Washington University’s GW Magazine that summer. Presidential management fellowships are considered prestigious. The program has a “narrow focus – developing a cadre of potential government leaders,” according to a website devoted to the program.
A post Gebert made as “Finstock” on a white nationalism-focused forum called The Right Stuff suggests his radicalization started in 2015, two years after he started his job with the State Department. “I got into this [movement] and off the conservative reservation in 2015,” he wrote in a January 2018 thread called “Ricky Vaughn is a N*****faggot who has no place in [The Right Stuff],” which referred to the pseudonymous identity used by an internet personality in the white nationalist “alt-right” movement.
Using a pseudonym, Gebert expressed an understanding that his connections to white nationalism could end his career.
“There are bigger things than a career and a paycheck, and I don’t want to lose mine,” Gebert said as “Coach Finstock” on an episode of “The Fatherland” recorded in August 2017, referring to his commitment to white nationalism. “I am prepared to lose mine. Because this is the most important thing to me in my life … in tandem with my family, of course.”
Hatewatch left a voice message for Gebert at the State Department on June 25, 2019, asking him about “Coach Finstock.” Gebert never returned the call.
Gebert’s links to white nationalism
Two separate sources told Hatewatch they spent time at Gebert’s home in Leesburg, Virginia, in 2017 at gatherings that included such known members of the white nationalist movement as podcaster Michael Peinovich and “Marcus Halberstram,” the pseudonymous co-host of a podcast called “Fash the Nation.”
“We gotta red pill police and military,” Gebert said on the same podcast, referring to a slang term connoting radicalization, particularly along lines of convincing people to embrace fascism as their political ideology. “I think those are our two biggest priorities.”
One of the sources told Hatewatch they spent the night at Gebert’s home following a party on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2017. The other source, who is close to Peinovich’s inner circle, told Hatewatch that parties centered around holidays were commonly held at Gebert’s home, and typically included people associated with the white nationalist movement.
Hatewatch ascertained the location of Gebert’s home using Loudoun County, Virginia, property records. Gebert and his wife, Anna Vuckovic, purchased their home June 1, 2012, for $531,000 and still own it today, the records show.
While standing outside the house listed in the property records, Hatewatch contacted the source who is close to Peinovich’s inner circle to solicit a description of the home. “It’s at the end of a cul-de-sac,” the source said without hesitating, accurately describing the location.
Both sources who claimed to have spent time at Gebert’s home provided detailed descriptions of its exterior to Hatewatch. The descriptions included the couple’s backyard, which features an expansive deck and a six-sided, above-ground veranda. The backyard was visible to Hatewatch from a shaded public walking path next to the property.
The source who spent the night at Gebert’s home provided emails and screenshots of text messages to Hatewatch that corroborate their story.
The same source said they also attended a clandestine dinner at a hotel with Gebert, his wife and Holocaust-denying author David Irving on June 17, 2017. The source provided emails and text messages to corroborate the story of the dinner. The source also sent a picture of Irving, which they said was taken at the dinner.
A third source told Hatewatch they also attended the event with Irving and the Geberts. Both sources who said they attended the Irving dinner recalled it being held in a private room in a hotel in downtown Washington, D.C. An email provided by one of the sources shows it was held at the Nage Bistro at the Courtyard Marriott, and started at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 17, 2017. Gebert introduced himself as a state department official at that dinner, according to both sources who attended it.
State Department employees are restricted from engaging in some outside political activities while working for the federal government, according to the Hatch Act. Some of those restrictions include engaging “in political activity in an official capacity” and engaging in “political activity while on duty or in the workplace.” Hatewatch was unable to determine if Gebert was on duty during the Irving dinner or if the gathering involved political activity.
Four separate sources named Gebert’s wife, Anna Vuckovic, as “Wolfie James,” a blogger and Twitter personality who also is connected to the white nationalist movement. In addition to the three aforementioned sources, a fourth source told Hatewatch they knew Vuckovic by her name and identified her in the movement as “Wolfie James.” The fourth source said they had heard Vuckovic’s husband had “a serious job,” and that the couple lived in the Washington, D.C. area.
Digital footprint leads to Gebert and Vuckovic
Gebert, as “Coach Finstock,” and Vuckovic, as “Wolfie James,” left behind a substantial trail of archived Twitter posts under their pseudonyms, Hatewatch determined. These archives revealed clues about their identities.
Gebert, for example, operated multiple Twitter handles as “Coach Finstock” from 2015 until the spring of 2019, according to two of the sources who spoke to Hatewatch.
At least one of these “Coach Finstock” accounts, @TotalWarCoach, led Hatewatch to expired handles that use elements of Gebert’s real name.
Twitter preserves old handles in conversations on that platform even after users change them. An open-source intelligence technique involves combing through conversations until older handles appear.
A review of conversations by @TotalWarCoach indicates that the same account previously employed handles like @MQGeb, which uses Gebert’s initials and part of his last name, and also @MQGebert, which includes his first two initials and his full last name.
Gebert left other breadcrumbs as “Coach Finstock” on Twitter. For example, the “Coach Finstock”-linked handle @WeWonFam posted what appears to be a personal photograph of the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial facing the Washington Monument on Nov. 17, 2016, a week after President Trump’s election into office. That post suggests the author’s location is in Washington, D.C. @WeWonFam listed Washington, D.C., as its location in the account’s Twitter bio.
“It’s much more beautiful now,” @WeWonFam commented. …