Get Informed

Subscribe to our newsletters for regular updates, analysis and context straight to your email.

Close Newsletter Signup

Former clerk in Pennsylvania district attorney’s office has ties to alt-right

Former clerk in Pennsylvania district attorney’s office has ties to alt-right


A Pennsylvania district attorney has promised to do a better job of vetting potential staff after his office hired a clerk who is active in the alt-right movement.

David Freed, the district attorney in Cumberland County said he didn’t personally know Evan McLaren when he worked in the office as an unpaid clerk in 2016 and 2017.

McLaren is now the executive director of the National Policy Institute, which was founded by white supremacist Richard Spencer.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has called the National Policy Institute “one of the country’s leading white nationalist organizations” and classified it as a hate group.

The Patriot News, the largest newspaper in Harrisburg, quoted McLaren talking about his beliefs last month after the violent protests in Charlottesville over the removal of a Confederate statue. McLaren was one of the people that marched in Charlottesville in opposition to the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue.

In the article, McLaren, a 2017 graduate of the Dickinson School of Law, said he believed white people who trace their ancestors back to Europe like himself were in danger of becoming a minority in America.

“We’re dedicated to the preservation of white heritage and identity,” McLaren said. “We’re talking about European culture and identity.”

McLaren also said Jews did not fit his definition of “white.”

Spencer has said the races shouldn’t mix and has advocated for different races living in different nations.

McLaren’s white nationalism has caused previous co-workers to backpedal from him as quickly as possible. McLaren was briefly the treasurer of the Cumberland County Young Republicans, and Republican leaders in the county said they barely knew him and weren’t aware of his extremist views.

Freed, a Republican, has promised to expand the vetting process to make sure someone like McLaren isn’t hired again. He also said all the cases McLaren worked on are being looked at to make sure nothing improper happened.

“The volunteer clerks prior to McLaren were only vetted to determine whether they are in good standing with the law school that they attend. Now we will at least look at social media and online histories,” Freed said.

Freed is one of several elected prosecutors who has hired employees that have publicly said hateful and racist things.

Last year former Orlando State Attorney Jeff Ashton fired Assistant State Attorney Ken Lewis after he did a Facebook post hours after the Pulse nightclub shooting.

In that post Lewis said all Orlando clubs are “zoos” and said downtown Orlando was a “melting pot of third world miscreants and ghetto thugs.”

Ashton said Lewis violated the office social media policy with the post. He also showed poor judgment and animus towards Orlando citizens.

Washington County District Attorney Bob Herrman also put Deputy District Attorney Zoe Smith on limited duty and ordered a personnel review of her after Smith wrote a Facebook post that appeared to support racial profiling. Smith was later suspended for a week without pay before being allowed to resume her normal duties.