(The Daily Signal) – President Joe Biden’s White House has hosted staff and leadership of the Southern Poverty Law Center at least 11 times, and congressional Republicans want answers about whether the Department of Education has used the SPLC to demonize concerned parents.
Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, sent a letter Monday to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona demanding all communications between his department and the SPLC, as well as all internal documents regarding the SPLC.
The Southern Poverty Law Center is notorious for branding mainstream conservative and Christian organizations as “hate groups” and placing them on a “hate map” with Ku Klux Klan chapters.
“The SPLC has a track record of labeling anything or anyone they disagree with as ‘hate’ or ‘hate groups,’ which ironically cheapens real hate they claim to want to root out,” Comer told The Daily Signal this week in a written statement.
Comer and two other committee chairmen are leading the House impeachment inquiry into Biden’s alleged wrongdoing regarding his son Hunter Biden’s foreign business deals in Ukraine, China, and elsewhere.
“These false labels and claims have been used in the private sector as a basis to discriminate against certain groups and we need to know if the Biden administration is relying on them as well,” Comer added. “I wrote to Secretary of Education Cardona to understand how extensively federal employees are using biased information that discriminates against Americans for their First Amendment protected political opinions.”
“The First Amendment is not a suggestion, and the Oversight Committee will continue to hold the Biden administration accountable for ignoring the Constitution to further a political agenda,” Comer concluded.
In his letter to Cardona, Comer announces that his committee “is investigating the extent to which the Southern Poverty Law Center influences federal employees performing their duties on behalf of taxpayers as well as input from federal officials that could affect SPLC decisions to designate groups.”
Comer requests information to further the investigation.
As I wrote in my book “Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center,” the SPLC has leveraged its track record of suing Ku Klux Klan groups into bankruptcy to develop the “hate map” it uses to smear enemies and raise money. Earlier this year, the SPLC placed parental rights organizations on the map, branding them “anti-student inclusion antigovernment extremist groups.”
In 2012, a terrorist used the SPLC’s map to target the Family Research Council for a mass shooting in Washington, D.C. The SPLC condemned the attack but kept the conservative organization on its map.
Despite a sexual harassment and racial discrimination scandal that prompted the SPLC to fire its co-founder in 2019, and a former employee revealing the SPLC’s “hate” accusations to be a “highly profitable scam,” many on the Left continue to use the SPLC as a political and ideological weapon to silence their opponents.
Comer’s letter notes that “the SPLC has weaponized its designation of ‘hate group’ to target conservative persons, organizations, and non-profits who hold opposing viewpoints or policy positions. In 2019, a federal judge concluded that the SPLC’s ‘hate group’ label does not ‘depend upon objective data or evidence’ and described the designation as ‘an entirely subjective inquiry.’ Despite this subjective slant, SPLC’s labels have been used in the private sector as a basis for decisions to exclude partnerships with certain groups.”
Comer’s letter also notes that the SPLC added parental rights groups to the “hate map” “only a few years after the Biden administration and the Department of Justice acquiesced to demands of the National School Boards Association to investigate parents and parents’ rights activists who had chosen to speak up at school board meetings throughout the country.”
“The committee is concerned and seeks to understand the extent of engagement, influence, and the impact of SPLC within your department as well as any steps you may be taking to mitigate against it,” Comer writes to the education secretary. “The American people have a right to know how extensively federal employees are utilizing or disseminating flawed and subjective information that effectively discriminates against them for their First Amendment protected political views.”
His letter requests that the agency hand over “all communications between the Department of Education and the Southern Poverty Law Center, its representatives, or other outside entities pertaining to SPLC,” along with all of the department’s internal communications pertaining to the SPLC, its “hate map,” and its “antigovernment group” designation. Finally, the letter requests all communications “pertaining to the SPLC’s designation of any parental rights groups as ‘antigovernment groups’ or its placement of any parental rights groups on its ‘hate map.’”
The letter from the chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee doesn’t mention Learning for Justice, the SPLC’s education arm, which promotes critical race theory (an approach to learning that analyzes America as institutionally or systemically racist) and LGBTQ orthodoxy.
The Southern Poverty Law Center dropped the previous name for its education program, “Teaching Tolerance,” in 2021 after the George Floyd riots of 2020. The SPLC previously trumpeted the spread of its Teaching Tolerance magazine in schools across the country, but its website no longer notes the magazine’s distribution.