Person

William Regnery II

Born:

February 25, 1941

Died:

July 2, 2021

Known For:

White Nationalist Financier

William Regnery II was a multimillionaire and supporter of racist organizations who funded multiple white-nationalist and so-called “alt-right” causes during his lifetime, most notably the Charles Martel Society, publisher of the anti-Semitic magazine Occidental Observer, and the National Policy Institute, the advocacy organization headed by white supremacist figure Richard Spencer. [1]

Regnery was an heir to his grandfather’s textile fortune and is related the founders of right-leaning publisher Regnery Publishing, known for publishing mainstream conservative scholars such as William F. Buckley, Jr. Regnery’s extremist views caused him to be estranged from the mainstream right-of-center family members active with the publishing company. Regnery was most notable for founding and funding the National Policy Institute and installing alt-right figure Richard Spencer as its leader.

Regnery died on July 2, 2021, at age 80. [2] [3]

Background

William “Bill” Regnery II was born into a wealthy Chicago family. His family wealth stemmed from the textile business that was built up by his grandfather, also named William Regnery. His grandfather was a member and funder of the America First Committee formed to oppose U.S. intervention into World War II. It is unknown why the elder Regnery funded the committee and his grandson William, who was born in 1941, had little memory of his grandfather. [4]

William Regnery attended the University of Pennsylvania and never earned a degree. He briefly went to work for his family’s textile business but was deemed a failure as a businessman with family members noting that the company lost money during the 15 months he was in charge. [5]

Regnery’s uncle Henry was the founder of Regnery Publishing, a right-of-center publishing company with which William Regnery had no affiliation. Henry Regnery was called the “godfather of modern conservativism”[6] by the New York Times upon his death in 1996; Henry’s son Alfred consistently criticized his cousin’s white nationalist views and supported William’s ouster from the board of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute in 2006. [7]

William Regnery described himself becoming disenchanted with the modern conservative movement of the 1990s and came to see the legacy of William F. Buckley Jr. and his uncle Henry Regnery as a “betrayal” [8] due to the mainstream right embracing “markets, military intervention overseas, and support for Israel” and was increasingly drawn towards white nationalism. [9]

In 1999, Regnery hosted a small gathering of 10 other white nationalist figures at which he laid out a vision of segregating the United States into smaller countries based on race and religion and called for a “proper home” for white Americans. Shortly afterwards Regnery founded the Charles Martel Society, a white nationalist publishing house that Regnery financially propped up himself. The society publishes Occidental Quarterly, a white nationalist magazine, and is named after Charles Martel, an 8th century European military leader whom white supremacists credit with “saving western civilization.” [10]

National Policy Institute

In 2005, William Regnery spent $380,000 to create the National Policy Institute, which was created to be a more public-facing organization that would promote white nationalist ideology in political conversations. In 2011, Regnery hired Richard Spencer to run the National Policy Institute, giving Spencer a national platform during which time he coined the phrase “Alternative Right” to refer to his white-identitarian politics. [11] Spencer became a national figure while running the organization and in 2014, both Spencer and Regnery were detained in Budapest after the Hungarian government banned their planned “European identarian conference”; both men were deported from Hungary. [12]

Regnery expressed the belief that President Donald Trump’s 2016 election on a nationalist and immigration-restrictionist platform was a victory for the alt-right. However, after the election National Policy Institute faced problems after Spencer organized the “Unite the Right” rally in 2017 that ended with a white supremacist driving his car into counter-protestors, killing one. The institute saw its tax-exempt status revoked by the IRS and was ordered to pay $2.4 million to an injured counter protestor from the rally, leaving the organization effectively defunct. [13]

Death

William Regnery died on July 2, 2021 at the age of 80 from cancer. [14]

References

  1. Risen, Clay. “William H. Regnery II, 80, Dies; Bankrolled the Rise of the Alt-Right.” The New York Times. The New York Times, July 16, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/16/obituaries/william-h-regnery-ii-dead.html. ^
  2. Roston, Aram and Anderson, Joel. “The Moneyman Behind the Alt-Right.” Buzzfeed. July 23, 2017. Accessed July 27, 2021. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/aramroston/hes-spent-almost-20-years-funding-the-racist-right-it ^
  3. “William Regnery, who funded right-wing extremism, dies at 80.” Miami Herald. July 18, 2021. Accessed July 27, 2021. https://www.miamiherald.com/entertainment/celebrities/article252855608.html ^
  4. Roston, Aram and Anderson, Joel. “The Moneyman Behind the Alt-Right.” Buzzfeed. July 23, 2017. Accessed July 27, 2021. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/aramroston/hes-spent-almost-20-years-funding-the-racist-right-it ^
  5. Roston, Aram and Anderson, Joel. “The Moneyman Behind the Alt-Right.” Buzzfeed. July 23, 2017. Accessed July 27, 2021. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/aramroston/hes-spent-almost-20-years-funding-the-racist-right-it ^
  6. Mathias, Christopher. “William Regnery II, Reclusive Millionaire Who Financed American Fascists, Dead At 80.” HuffPost. July 16, 2021. Accessed July 27, 2021. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/william-regnery-dead-white-nationalist-millionaire-financier-richard-spencer_n_60f0f53ae4b01f118957ee93 ^
  7. Roston, Aram and Anderson, Joel. “The Moneyman Behind the Alt-Right.” Buzzfeed. July 23, 2017. Accessed July 27, 2021. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/aramroston/hes-spent-almost-20-years-funding-the-racist-right-it ^
  8. Roston, Aram and Anderson, Joel. “The Moneyman Behind the Alt-Right.” Buzzfeed. July 23, 2017. Accessed July 27, 2021. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/aramroston/hes-spent-almost-20-years-funding-the-racist-right-it ^
  9.  In the late 1990s and 2000s, he began to fund various white supremacist causes at relatively small amounts with most estimates being that his total giving to such organizations consisted of less than $1 million, though critics noted that small grants of less than $100,000 represented large cash infusions to such fringe groups. [note] Roston, Aram and Anderson, Joel. “The Moneyman Behind the Alt-Right.” Buzzfeed. July 23, 2017. Accessed July 27, 2021. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/aramroston/hes-spent-almost-20-years-funding-the-racist-right-it ^
  10. Roston, Aram and Anderson, Joel. “The Moneyman Behind the Alt-Right.” Buzzfeed. July 23, 2017. Accessed July 27, 2021. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/aramroston/hes-spent-almost-20-years-funding-the-racist-right-it ^
  11. Roston, Aram and Anderson, Joel. “The Moneyman Behind the Alt-Right.” Buzzfeed. July 23, 2017. Accessed July 27, 2021. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/aramroston/hes-spent-almost-20-years-funding-the-racist-right-it ^
  12. Risen, Clay. “William H. Regnery II, 80, Dies; Bankrolled the Rise of the Alt-Right.” New York Times. July 16, 2021. Accessed July 27, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/16/obituaries/william-h-regnery-ii-dead.html ^
  13. Risen, Clay. “William H. Regnery II, 80, Dies; Bankrolled the Rise of the Alt-Right.” New York Times. July 16, 2021. Accessed July 27, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/16/obituaries/william-h-regnery-ii-dead.html ^
  14. Risen, Clay. “William H. Regnery II, 80, Dies; Bankrolled the Rise of the Alt-Right.” New York Times. July 16, 2021. Accessed July 27, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/16/obituaries/william-h-regnery-ii-dead.html ^
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