A former Spanish teacher in North Carolina, Noel Fritsch has in recent years built a career as a conservative operative with a history of involvement in Republican campaigns and far-right causes across the country.
Described by a political news site in Mississippi in 2015 as a political consultant who provides “local help” rather than trying to be a kingmaker, he served as spokesman for Chris McDaniel, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in 2014. A columnist for the state’s Clarion-Ledger compared Fritsch to Darth Vader and suggested he was “responsible for McDaniel snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.”
Little-known in Alabama politics, Fritsch does have at least one connection. In 2017, he consulted for the Roy Moore campaign. The Moore campaign paid a North Carolina company owned by Fritsch more than $60,000.
In 2018, he also consulted for Paul Nehlen, a Republican businessman who ran in a primary for the seat vacated by House Speaker Paul Ryan in Wisconsin. Nehlen has been criticized for expressing white supremacist views.
Fritsch himself has a history of spreading misinformation on social media. On Twitter, he promoted the debunked “Pizzagate” sex-trafficking tale and the unfounded allegation that Democrats killed a Democratic National Committee staffer. In 2018, he tweeted that “in Hollywood it’s OK to be a rapist as long you’re black.”
Today, Fritsch is part of a burgeoning far-right media that has broken some stories, but is also known for conspiracy theories. Yet when stories do land, they spill over into mainstream outlets, forcing responses from targeted politicians, as the revelations about Merrill’s affair did last week in Alabama.
Fritsch made his views about Merrill clear in text messages that he sent to McPherson.
On April 2, he told her, “[t]his is and has always been about the bad person you said Merrill is,” adding in another message that day that “[h]e’s a s**t person. Clearly.”
Fritsch expanded on his concerns about Merrill during a phone interview with AL.com last week in which he accused the secretary of state of election meddling, a popular topic among Trump supporters who claim that Democrats rigged the November presidential election.
“The reasons for this might be many, but at the very moment that the affair between Cesaire and John Merrill began, John Merrill was deep in the process of trying to cover up massive Russian-style voter fraud in the state of Alabama during the 2017 election,” Fritsch said.
There is no evidence that Merrill engaged in such a cover-up or that there was widespread voter fraud in the 2017 special U.S. Senate race pitting Roy Moore against various Republican rivals and then against Democrat Doug Jones.