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A Virginia gun control advocate whose daughter was shot and killed on TV seven years ago announced Thursday that he is seeking office in Congress.

Andy Parker, a Democrat, said he is running to hold social media giants accountable after videos of the death of his daughter received millions of views on Facebook and YouTube.


"I’m running for Congress to make the internet safer for kids and for families," Parker said in a video announcing his candidacy for Virginia's 5th Congressional District. "In 2015, my 24-year-old daughter, Alison Parker, was shot and killed on live television. I had a choice to retreat into my grief or honor Alison’s life through action. I chose the latter. I’m running for Congress because Central and Southside Virginia need a fighter in Congress."

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Alison Parker, a broadcast journalist for a CBS affiliate, was conducting an on-air interview near Roanoke, Virginia, when a former employee of the TV station shot and killed Alison and cameraman Adam Ward. The interviewee, Vicki Gardner, was also shot but survived. The shooter, Vester Lee Flanagan II, committed suicide later that day after being cornered by police on a highway, according to the New York Times.

In this Jan. 15, 2018 file photo, parents of slain TV reporter Alison Parker, Barbara and Andy Parker, listen to speeches as they hold a photo of their daughter during an anti-gun violence rally at the Capitol in Richmond, Virginia. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)


Parker said he still plans to make gun control an important part of his campaign, but his focus is on the social media giants who have profited from his tragedy, according to Fox News. Parker added that he never realized the death of his daughter would begin a yearslong battle with social media companies to remove videos of her death.

"I kept asking that the videos be taken down, but the tech companies kept ignoring me. And the videos kept being uploaded, over and over again," Parker said. "Almost seven years later, it’s still happening. Some evil ghouls even made money selling ads around footage of my child’s death. And I cannot let that stand."

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Parker is the fourth Democrat to run for the party's nomination in the 5th District, which is currently represented by first-term Rep. Bob Good, a Republican who is seeking reelection. This will mark Parker's first run for Congress. However, he has run for political office before. Parker ran unsuccessfully in 2007 for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates.

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Natasha Parker Blasts Blake Horstmann Over BiP Warning

Getty 'Bachelor in Paradise' stars Natasha Parker and Blake Horstmann attend events

Season 8 of “Bachelor in Paradise” has not even started filming yet and there is already drama brewing among some franchise veterans. Blake Horstmann recently opened up about advice he gave potential “BiP” contestants, and Natasha Parker was not pleased by what he had to say.

Here’s what you need to know:

Blake’s Podcast Host Comments Rubbed Natasha the Wrong Way View this post on Instagram

A post shared by NATASHA Parker (@natashaparker)

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Blake recently shared the advice he gave potential Season 8 “Bachelor in Paradise” contestants when they asked him for insight. “The only advice I gave them was to be careful of the official ‘Bachelor’ podcast hosts if they are down there.” He added, “They are ABC employees and will always get a good edit.” Blake explained he did not think any hosts for franchise-connected podcasts should be eligible to become cast members.

Blake did not mention anybody by name, but Natasha Parker had plenty to say in response to his comments. Natasha co-hosts “Click Bait” alongside Joe Amabile and Tia Booth, and she was a part of the Season 7 “BiP” cast. In now-expired Instagram stories, Natasha said, “you’re basically villainizing me because I have a podcast instead of holding the toxic people accountable.”

Natasha admitted she was sensitive about the comments because of her experience during Season 7. As fans may remember, she got caught up in a scandal of sorts when Pieper James and Brendan Morais were accused of using Natasha to keep him around long enough for Pieper to arrive, detailed Us Weekly. Production gave her a rose so she could stay, a move far outside the norm for the show.

Natasha added, “if you’re taking what Blake is saying and you’re rallying behind it, you’re basically excusing toxic behavior.” The “Click Bait” co-host shared, “I was not toxic on the beach. Joe wasn’t toxic in his relationship on the beach. Becca wasn’t toxic in her relationship on the beach,” referring to Becca Kufrin, who hosts the “Bachelor Happy Hour” podcast. “If you’re going to ‘warn’ someone about someone, why not warn them about the toxic behaviors that people can have?” she questioned. “Oh, because you, yourself, had toxic behavior on the beach when you were there.”

Fans Had Plenty to Say After Natasha Spoke Out View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Blake Horstmann (@balockaye.h)

Natasha’s remarks generated a significant amount of discussion on Reddit. “Geez, he was right and he didn’t even single out Natasha,” one poster noted. “Natasha this isn’t the case you think you’re making, sorry,” someone else wrote. Quite a few people pointed out Blake called no one out by name. In addition, he did not say the podcast hosts were toxic. Rather, he warned production would protect the hosts and the contestants they were interested in dating, and they’d receive good edits. Natasha had her supporters as well, but a Reddit poll suggested most people sided with Blake.

What did Blake think of Natasha’s comments? Reddit shared that when asked by a fan if he was going to respond, he posted a simple “Nope. Not worth my breath. Tell me it’s the off season without telling me the off season” on his Instagram Stories. Whether it will all just blow over now remains to be seen.

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