Political activities, Rhodesia and South Africa (1971–1976)
In 1971, Covington joined the National Socialist White People’s Party, the political successor to the American Nazi Party. He moved to South Africa in December 1973, after his discharge from the U.S. Army, and later to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Covington was a founding member of the Rhodesian White People's Party, and later claimed to have served in the Rhodesian Army, although the Zimbabwe government has said that Covington never served in any capacity. He was deported from Rhodesia in 1976, after sending threatening letters to a Jewish congregation.
Political activities after returning from Rhodesia
In 1980, while leader of the NSWPP, he lost a primary election for the Republican nomination for candidates for attorney general of North Carolina. Covington resigned as president of the NSWPP in 1981. That same year, Covington alleged that would-be presidential assassin John Hinckley Jr. had formerly been a member of the Nazi Party. Law enforcement authorities were never able to corroborate this claim, and suggested the alleged connection "may have been fabricated for publicity purposes".
Covington later settled in the United Kingdom for several years, where he made contact with British far-right groups and was involved in setting up the neo-Nazi terrorist organisation Combat 18 (C18) in 1992. C18 openly promotes violence and antisemitism, and has adopted some of the features of the American far right.
In 1994, Covington restarted the NSWPP in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He launched a website in 1996; using the pseudonym "Winston Smith" (taken from the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four), Covington became one of the first neo-Nazi presences on the Internet. Covington used the website and the Winston Smith pseudonym to disseminate Holocaust-denial material.
Beginning in 2005, Covington maintained a political blog titled "Thoughtcrime". As a fiction writer, Covington authored several occult-themed novels.
Covington was mentioned in the media in connection with the Charleston church shooting, whose perpetrator Dylann Roof cited Covington as an influence. According to Covington, the shooting was "a preview of coming attractions", but he also believed it was a bad idea for his followers to engage in random acts of violence, supporting organized revolution instead.