A senior Trump administration appointee at the Department of Veterans Affairs spread birther conspiracy theories about then-President Barack Obama and made anti-Muslim comments on social media while working for the Trump campaign in Arizona.
Thayer Verschoor, the VA’s executive director of intergovernmental affairs, is a former Arizona state Senate majority leader and longtime ally of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a well-known birther who is currently running in the Republican primary for US Senate in Arizona.
Shortly after joining the Trump campaign in 2016, Verschoor shared a Facebook post that praised then-candidate Trump for thinking “Obama’s birth certificate is a fraud” and understanding there’s a Muslim “problem” in the US.
Verschoor originally served as a special assistant at the Department of Agricultural but transferred to the VA in 2017, a change that brought a significant promotion and pay raise to a pay grade reserved for senior level appointees. The Office of Intergovernmental Affairs serves as the VA’s “liaison in all intergovernmental affairs matters and is the primary point of contact with federal, state, local, American Indian, and Native Alaskan Government officials,” according to their website.
Verschoor joined the Trump campaign in January 2016 as the deputy state director in Arizona, according to a copy of his resume obtained from nonprofit watchdog organization American Oversight. He is one of a number of Trump campaign officials who have spread conspiracy theories and landed senior jobs in the administration.
The comments come from Verschoor’s partially closed Facebook account, which has a smattering of public posts dating back to 2015. His Twitter account was locked in 2017 after joining the Trump administration.
Neither Verschoor nor the VA returned requests for comment. Verschoor made his Facebook private after CNN reached out for comment.
In February of 2016, while working for the Trump campaign, Verschoor shared a post on his Facebook page titled “Why Vote For Donald Trump” listing 35 reasons to vote for Trump that contained conspiracy theories.
“He thinks Obama’s birth certificate is a fraud [check out his SS#, no draft card/ old passport/ E-verification status, school records [remember his dad isn’t American therefore he isn’t qualified for the office he’s in],” the post read.
“He’s warning America of [Poisons vaccines] and the dangers,” read another bullet point, referencing Trump’s unfounded fearmongering about vaccines.
Another point took aim at Muslims.
“He realizes we have a Muslin (SIC) problem in this nation,” it said.
In another post from January 2016, Verschoor offered an example of four Saudi Arabian college students who were accused of sexual violence following a night of alleged drinking and drugs at a Rhode Island college as an example of “Islamic Gang Rapes” arriving in America. Charges against one of college students was dropped, and a grand jury declined to indict the other three.
Prior to joining the Trump campaign, Verschoor wrote in a November 2015 Facebook post that Syrian refugees were “invading our country.” He added in another post it was time to “stop the #Syrianinvasion,” while liking a response calling for sending refugees back.
Verschoor also pushed claims that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was not eligible to be president. In February of 2016, following Cruz’s victory in the Iowa Caucuses, Verschoor shared a post claiming Trump came in first “among natural-born American citizens.”
Opponents of Cruz claimed he was ineligible to be president because only one of Cruz’s parents was an American citizen at the time of his birth.
“Cruz is on shaky ground. Can’t stand the eligibility test,” he added in another comment.
Verschoor also appears to have attempted to legislate his views. As a state senator in 2009, he joined handful of colleagues who sponsored a bill, SB1158, requiring presidential candidates provide proof they are natural-born citizens. The bill was not passed into law