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Donald Trump's California Delegate Problem

Donald Trump
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's list of California delegates features at least one embarrassing revelation. (Reuters photo)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump may lock up the GOP nomination without California's help, but a clerical error this week is definitely leaving his campaign a bit embarrassed.

Trump, who has been dogged by charges of racism throughout the course of the campaign, will now have an alleged white supremacist as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in mid-July. And there's nothing he, nor anyone else, can do about it.

Monday, the California Secretary of State's Office announced it had received delegate lists from the campaigns of both Trump and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Shortly after those lists were made public, however, it was noted that William Johnson was listed as a delegate in the 34th Congressional District.

Johnson heads the American Freedom Party, formerly known as the American Third Position Party, a political organization that promotes "European-American issues" and is general considered a white nationalist group. By his own admission, he didn't expect to be selected, but after signing a pledge to vote for Trump on every ballot at the national convention, he was notified Monday he had been added as an official delegate.

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Monday was the deadline to file delegate lists, meaning the Trump campaign was still trying to fill its slate of 169 delegates at the last minute. And, it did so by placing an avowed white nationalist on the list without first vetting said delegate.

To explain the embarrassing development, the Trump campaign issued the following statement Tuesday, attributed to California state director Tim Clark:

"Yesterday the Trump Campaign submitted its list of California delegates to be certified by the Secretary of State of California. Upon careful review of computer records, the inclusion of a potential delegate that had previously been rejected and removed from the campaign's list in February 2016, was discovered. This was immediately corrected and a final list, which does not include this individual, was submitted for certification."

But the California Secretary of State's Office said it wasn't alerted to the "clerical error" until Tuesday, which was after the deadline to file delegate lists. According to state law, the original list must be used.

For his part, Johnson has said he would resign if asked by the Trump campaign. That would allow the campaign to replace him prior to the start of the convention, but it won't change the official, publicly reported delegate list.

Perhaps the irony is that Trump has spent much of the campaign trying to distance himself from Johnson and AFP. The group used its financial resources to produce robocalls to help influence voters to support the businessman's presidential campaign.

One robocall reportedly stated:

"The white race is dying out in America and Europe because we are afraid to be called 'racist.' Donald Trump is not racist, but Donald Trump is not afraid. Don't vote for a Cuban. Vote for Donald Trump."

The Trump campaign has returned donations from Johnson in the past, and disavowed AFP's support. His California delegate list, Johnson's addition notwithstanding, seems to indicate substantial racial diversity.

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