Brandon Darby

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Brandon Darby
Born (1976-11-02) November 2, 1976 (age 42)
OccupationBlogger at Breitbart Texas division
Known forSocial and political activism, FBI informant
Spouse(s)Katie Pavlich[2]

Brandon Michael Darby (born November 2, 1976) is an American conservative blogger and activist. He first became known in the fall of 2005 for actions in New Orleans in efforts to help residents, where he was a co-founder of the Common Ground Collective organized there. It coordinated the efforts of hundreds of volunteers from across the country for years.

In late 2008 Darby acknowledged in an open letter that he had acted as an FBI informant in infiltrating protest groups before the 2008 Republican National Convention, held in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He testified in court against two men arrested on plans to commit domestic terrorism.

Darby became increasingly involved in conservative movements, including the Tea Party. By 2016 Darby became a chief strategist for President Donald Trump and served as managing director of Breitbart Texas, a far-right organization[3] news and opinion website.[4]


Early life[edit]

Darby was born in 1976 and raised in Pasadena, Texas, which is part of Greater Houston.[1][5][6] His father was a refinery welder in Pasadena.[5] As a teenager, Darby would often run away from home.[7][8][9] He lived in group homes in Houston, Texas and the surrounding areas.[5] He completed a GED. He later took classes to qualify for work as an emergency medical technician (EMT).[1][10]

Early activism[edit]

Following the extensive damage in New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Darby was among numerous emergency medical personnel who went there in the first weeks to help the residents. With Malik Rahim and Scott Crow (the latter from Austin, Texas), he became a co-founder of Common Ground Relief,[11] a non-profit relief organization that provided supplies and assistance to residents, including medical care, to residents of the city. He helped organize volunteers from across the country over the ensuing weeks and months, as CRG set up emergency clinics, distribution centers, and other aid. From January to April 2007, Darby served as Director of Operations for the organization.[12]

2008 Republican Convention activities[edit]

Darby started working as an FBI informant in November 2007, to infiltrate groups planning protests at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.[13] He gave the FBI information which led to the seizure of 34 homemade riot shields brought from Texas.[14] Two activists from Texas, David McKay and Bradley Crowder, purchased materials for and constructed firebombs (Molotov cocktails) that they appear to have planned to use against state-owned vehicles. Evidence of the firebombs was seized in a raid by local police, which was supported by the FBI.

At McKay and Crowder's trial the question was raised whether Darby encouraged their escalation in violence.[15] Specific claims about this were made by others in attendance at the protest (e.g., Gabby Hicks stated that Darby was "... the one to suggest violence, when the rest of us clearly disagreed..." and that "[a]s an older seasoned activist, Darby had a lot of sway over Crowder and McKay, making them susceptible to his often militant rhetoric"),[16] suggesting that Darby acted as an agent provocateur. A former Darby girlfriend and various former colleagues allege that Darby informed for the FBI not due to patriotism or altruism, but for self-serving motives.[16]

In a December 2008 open letter to his former fellow community organizers and activists, Darby acknowledged having worked as an informant for the FBI.[17]

Neither Crowder nor McKay agreed to testify against the other in court.[15] Rather than go to trial, Crowder accepted a plea agreement in 2009 on charges of possessing Molotov cocktails during the convention.[18] He served 24 months in prison and three years of supervised release.[18]

McKay took his case to trial, claiming entrapment by Darby. The trial ended with a hung jury, in a vote of 6-6.[15] Jury interviews indicated that much of their discussion had concerned assessing the veracity of defendant McKay and witness Darby (the former claiming entrapment, the latter denying). A significant portion of the jury had voted to acquit based on their acceptance of Darby's representation of events.[15] The prosecutor prepared to retry McKay's case.

Shortly before the retrial date in 2009, McKay accepted a 24-month plea deal sentence for the charges against him. He formally retracted his claim that Darby had entrapped him.[19] Critics have suggested that both McKay and Crowder remained firm in their initial account of events, and that additional documentary evidence supported them. McKay's decision to take the plea deal was based on his awareness that 90% of federal cases result in convictions, and he was at risk of being sentenced to decades in prison if found guilty.[15]

Following the plea arrangement, McKay pleaded guilty to possession of firearms and obstruction of justice. He was sentenced to 48 months in prison and three years of supervised release.[20] The length of sentence was attributed to a charge of obstruction of justice, based on McKay's having initially claimed that Darby had entrapped him.[21][22] David McKay and Bradley Crowder were still serving jail sentences as of late 2011.[15]

In many left-wing activist communities, Darby has been criticized[16] and ostracized[5][23][24] for his role in McKay's conviction. He has been welcomed by some conservative organizations as a patriot.[5][24]


Since 2008 Darby has promoted the Tea Party and speaks regularly across the United States, promoting conservative politics.[25][26]

Representation in other media[edit]

Darby is featured in the 2011 documentary film Better This World, written and directed by Kelly Duayne De La Vega and Katie Galloway. It concentrates on Bradley Crowder and David McKay, and the role of Darby as an informant and potential agent provocateur in radicalizing them. The film explores the role of government at a time of domestic terrorism. It was broadcast nationally on PBS's POV series.

He also appeared in the documentary film Occupy Unmasked (2012), written and directed by Jamie Meltzer. It explored the Occupy Wall Street movement, and presented evidence that the movement was fundamentally violent, and organized to destroy the American government.


  1. ^ a b c "David McKay Trial Report: Days 1 and 2". January 29, 2009.
  2. ^ Prengel, Kate (July 22, 2018). "Brandon Darby, Katie Pavlich's Husband: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know".
  3. ^ *Weigel, David (November 14, 2016). "Is Trump's new chief strategist a racist? Critics say so". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 3, 2016.
  4. ^ "HIGH DRAMA! Breitbart Texas bureau chief says ciao to Twitter". The Daily Caller. April 16, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d e Harkinson, Josh (September–October 2011). "How a Radical Leftist Became the FBI's BFF". Mother Jones. Retrieved September 9, 2011.
  6. ^ "Better This World". PBS. September 6, 2011.
  7. ^ "'Informant' takes us inside the life of Brandon Darby". October 18, 2012.
  8. ^ "From left-wing activist to conservative hero: New documentary spotlights Brandon Darby's strange trip". Fox News. September 11, 2013.
  9. ^ "Brandon Darby "Informant"". Houston Chronicle. September 4, 2013.
  10. ^ "Social activist, organizer ... and RNC informant". St. Paul Pioneer Press. January 2, 2009.
  11. ^ "New Orleans: Update From Common Ground Relief". A-Infos Radio Project. September 3, 2009. Retrieved September 9, 2011.
  12. ^ Buncombe, Andrew (March 9, 2007). "Desolation row: The betrayal of New Orleans". The Independent. Retrieved September 9, 2011.
  13. ^ Hanners, David (January 1, 2009). "Social activist, organizer ... and RNC informant". Pioneer Press, Twin Archived from the original on June 6, 2009.
  14. ^ Federal Bureau of Investigation, Sept. 8, 2008. Affidavit by Special Agent Christopher Langert Archived 2011-07-26 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ a b c d e f "Better This World". POV. PBS. Retrieved September 9, 2011.
  16. ^ a b c "Austin RNC Informant is Provocateur Not Hero". Houston Independent Media Center. January 6, 2009. Archived from the original on February 3, 2012. Retrieved September 9, 2011.
  17. ^ Moynihan, Colin (January 4, 2009). "Activist Unmasks Himself as Federal Informant in G.O.P. Convention Case". The New York Times. Retrieved September 9, 2011.
  18. ^ a b Austin, Texas Man Sentenced for Possessing Molotov Cocktails During the Republican National Convention, Department of Justice Press Release, US Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota, May 14, 2009
  19. ^ Walsh, James (May 21, 2009). "Second Texan gets four years in RNC plot". Star Tribune. "I embellished — I guess actually lied — that Brandon Darby came up with the idea to make Molotov cocktails." — David Guy McKay
  20. ^ Flener, Matt (January 8, 2009). "RNC suspect pleads guilty". KXAN News.
  21. ^ Walsh, James (May 21, 2009). "Second Texan gets four years in RNC plot". Star Tribune.
  22. ^ Texas Man Sentenced on Firearms Charges Connected to the Republican National Convention, Department of Justice Press Release, US Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota, May 21, 2009.
  23. ^ "An Open Letter to Brandon Darby". Death and Taxes. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
  24. ^ a b "What informs an informant?". Waging Nonviolence. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
  25. ^ "Brandon Darby, Leftwing Anarchist To Conservative Activist". Houston Chronicle. May 17, 2012.
  26. ^ "Meet Brandon Darby, Grass-Roots Activist (And FBI Rat)". NPR. September 12, 2013.

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