Hoekstra under fire for hosting far-right party in Netherlands

    Former U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra | Wikimedia Commons

    In July, U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands Pete Hoekstra visited a Nazi graveyard, prompting outrage from Jews and others. Now the Washington Post reports that the former Michigan congressman hosted an event for a far-right Dutch party and donors at the U.S. Embassy in The Hague in September.

    The Dutch magazine De Groene Amsterdammer was the first to report on Hoekstra’s event for the Forum for Democracy (FvD). The FvD is anti-immigration and opposes the European Union. Its head, Thierry Baudet, is a supporter of President Donald Trump, who appointed Hoekstra to his post in 2017.

    Sjoerd Wiemer Sjoerdsma, a member of parliament and foreign policy spokesman for Democrats 66, a liberal party in the Dutch coalition government, told the Post Hoekstra’s action was a “violation of the Treaty of Vienna” signed by the United States and the Netherlands in 1961.

    Bram van Ojik, a member of parliament with the left-wing GroenLinks party said Hoekstra’s event constituted “interference in our elections.”

    The State Department didn’t respond to the Post, but U.S. officials told Dutch media that it was a routine event.

    Hoekstra previously spoke at an FvD conference in December and appeared in a video series from the party.

    Hoekstra faced controversy before. In 2017, he was confronted about anti-Muslim remarks in which he claimed there are “no-go zones” in the Netherlands. Although Hoekstra claimed it was “fake news,” a Dutch TV interview surfaced with him saying it. He later apologized.

    He represented West Michigan in Congress from 1993 to 2011 when he unsuccessfully ran for Michigan governor, losing the GOP primary to Rick Snyder, who would go on to serve two terms as governor. Hoekstra also was defeated by U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing) in the 2012 election, where his China-themed ad was denounced as racist.

     

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    Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.