The co-founder of conservative group Turning Point USA, (who hosted Trump last month) has died from complications from coronavirus.
Bill Montgomery died on Tuesday from Covid-19, according to pro-Trump conservative strategist Caleb Hull, who posted about the death on Twitter,
“I really wish people would just stop politicizing this pandemic and grow up while innocent people around us are dying.
You have no idea how painful it is to be forced to sit at home while your loved one dies alone in a hospital.”
In a statement memorializing Montgomery, Turning Point USA praised his role in elevating Kirk and the organization, calling him the group’s “first believer and senior advisor,” although Montgomery often described himself as a co-founder.
Charlie Kirk said to POLITICO:
“I can’t put into words how saddened I am by the death of my dear friend Bill Montgomery.”
But over the course of the pandemic, Turning Point USA representatives have downplayed the impact of the coronavirus.
In two previous episodes of his podcast, March 16 and April 23, Kirk stated that he believed that the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions should self-quarantine. Outside of that, however, he has questioned the vast majority of public health proposals to limit community spread. On the Sunday edition of his podcast, Kirk said,
“Do not force me to wear a mask, it’s that simple. I’m not gonna do it, I’m not.”
“[E]very single time I go into one of these grocery stores, ‘Where’s your mask?’ I say, well first of all, the science around masks is very questionable, very questionable. In fact some people, some doctors think that masks actually make you sicker and have you less likely to be able to get oxygen and more likely to infect yourself, and less likely to be able to fight the virus, and actually more likely to be able to die sooner.
“A lot of people believe that. I’ve met many doctors that hold that view.
Secondly, we have a huge civil liberty issue here. Why do you have the authority to tell me what I can and cannot do with my body? I thought it was ‘my body, my choice.’”
In late June, Trump spoke to a packed audience of young Turning Point supporters at a megachurch in Phoenix where he was introduced by Kirk. Few people in the audience practiced social distancing or wore masks.
In a statement in response to questions about Kirk’s remarks on masks, a spokesman for him said:
“Charlie has long said that if you are in high risk cohorts, namely the elderly and those with comorbidities or underlying health issues — of which Bill was a part of both cohorts, both groups, — then you should take every possible precaution. Had they discussed Charlie would have recommended he self-quarantine. Charlie has questioned the efficacy of masks for low risk groups, including school aged children, those under 60 that are in good health.
“The mainstream media wants to censor dissident voices and a robust debate and that’s really what Charlie’s advocating for, for a robust debate. Because so many lives and really the entire country is implicated, we need that debate more than ever.”
Bill Montgomery was 80.
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