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"Bachelor" star Ben Higgins told Insider that he doesn't believe "Bachelorette" contestant James Taylor, who claimed that the franchise supported him after participating in the Capitol riots in Washington, DC.
Higgins added that Taylor is lying and "nobody supported him."
A source close to ABC also told Insider that Taylor's claims are "unequivocally false" and that he hasn't "been associated with the franchise for years."
Higgins also revealed that he's no longer a Republican after running for Congress with the party in 2016.
"It's crazy for me to see the changes in the last four years from the party that I was associating with four years ago. It's completely different," Higgins said.
While politics is rarely brought up in the "Bachelor" universe, that all changed after Pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol last week.
"Bachelor" star Ben Higgins told Insider earlier this week that he "can't associate with James Taylor" after the "Bachelorette" alum attended the violent siege in Washington, DC on January 6.
Taylor, who appeared on JoJo Fletcher's season in 2016, claimed that the "Bachelor" family "had his back," even tweeting that "conservative producers are the best!"
—James McCoy Taylor (@james_mccoy_t) January 12, 2021
A source close to ABC told Insider it's "unequivocally false" that the network and show had supported Taylor.
"He has not been associated with the franchise for years," the source added.
"Bachelor" creator Mike Fleiss also responded to Taylor's tweets, calling him the "idiot jerk off that went to Trump's treasonous rally."
—Mike Fleiss (@fleissmeister) January 13, 2021
Ben Higgins, who starred on 'The Bachelor' in 2016, claimed Taylor 'is lying'
Higgins, who once ran for Congress as a Republican, denounced Taylor's actions and his participation in the riot.
"It was a dark day in American history and he was there for it and it's still being promoted through him. I can't say he and I have anything in common," he told Insider. "However, he is representing 'The Bachelor' and I think he went as far as saying that 'The Bachelor' supported his efforts to do this - that is wrong! And he's lying."
"That didn't happen. Nobody supported him in that. He's lying and lying is not an OK thing to do. I don't know why he's doing it," Higgins continued.
Insider reached out to Taylor for comment, but didn't immediately hear back.
Higgins and Fleiss aren't the only ones in Bachelor Nation, who are speaking out against Taylor. Former "Bachelorette" star Rachel Lindsay, who has been vocal about the franchise's need to diversify, responded that this is a perfect example of how the show needs "to do better with casting."
—Rachel Lindsay (@TheRachLindsay) January 13, 2021
The franchise has come under fire multiple times throughout the years over some of its contestants' past behavior.
On Lindsay's season - which was historic as she was the first Black lead - it was revealed that one of her contestants had a history of racist tweets. And last year, during Peter Weber's season of "The Bachelor," Cosmopolitan magazine pulled a digital cover for contestant Victoria Fuller after it was revealed she previously did a photo shoot in support of "White Lives Matter."
Higgins told Insider that there's no way the franchise could've predicted Taylor's actions, "but you know, diversity of opinion matters. I think diversity within the 'Bachelor' franchise matters."
The former reality star said he does believe that "The Bachelor" will start to filter "through people who are pushing others aside."
"What's important is, how are people on the show treating others. Are they lifting others up? Are they the ones who love to see people get hurt? Those people should never be on the show," Higgins added. "But different beliefs and different ideologies - as long as it's based in a place where people still love people - then bring them on the show."
As for his own ideology, Higgins said he is no longer a Republican
Higgins made headlines in 2016 when - shortly after his season of "The Bachelor" aired - he announced he was running for Congress as a Republican representative in Colorado.
"The Republican party looked a lot different back then than it does today. I'm not naive to that," Higgins said. "In fact, I'm an unaffiliated voter at this point because I no longer align with the complete Republican agenda, especially when it comes to the way we speak about humans and the way social issues are discussed."
"It's just a different world. It is," he added. "And it's crazy for me to see the changes in the last four years from the party that I was associating with four years ago. It's completely different."
While politics has 'always been intriguing' to Higgins, he said he has no plans to run for office again anytime soon
Higgins admitted that "in the current state of politics, I don't know where my voice would be heard."
"My agenda when I ran was to try and bring people together," he continued. "It was one where I was hoping to see those who do feel less than others have a seat at the table. I was hoping to have a place to speak on equality."
Higgins said his ultimate political goal is to blend his "fiscal conservative ideals" with his "more liberal social stances," but doesn't "know how that can happen in today's politics."
"So is it a pursuit that, maybe later on in life, I will do? Yes, but we have to get to a different place politically," he continued. "I don't know where you'd have a chance because the people screaming the loudest are being heard the most right now. And, quite honestly, I don't want to scream."
Read the original article on Insider