The Southern Poverty Law Center, notorious for branding mainstream conservatives and Christians as “hate groups” and equating them with the Ku Klux Klan, is taking aim at school boards and local elections. 

The SPLC Action Fund announced the launch of two political action committees on Monday, targeting local government races in the South and countering conservative actions against critical race theory in school board races.

The federal New Southern Leaders PAC and the New Southern Majority Independent Expenditure Committee (a federal super PAC) will “help recruit, support and drive greater diversity among political candidates running for local offices throughout the South,” an SPLC Action Fund press release, first reported by Just the News, announced. 

“While many suburban counties have become more progressive and diverse in the last decade, local elected leadership remains overwhelmingly white and conservative,” Margaret Huang, president and CEO of the SPLC and its Action Fund, said in a statement.

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Huang contended that “these incumbents often keep winning simply because they run unopposed,” noting that “it is not unusual for upwards of half of local elections to be uncontested.”

The SPLC Action Fund president then gave a glimpse into the goals of the local election arms. She lamented that uncontested races result in “school boards that are not only banning books, but also the teaching of Black history and culture, and the Holocaust; cities that arrest and kill Black citizens at a rate five times greater than whites; and elections deniers in charge of counting votes in elections.”

Critics have long condemned the SPLC for branding conservative and Christian organizations “hate groups,” placing them on a list and a map alongside truly hateful organizations such as the Klan.

My book “Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center” traces how the SPLC—originally a public-interest legal nonprofit representing poor people in the South—became a political fundraising juggernaut, in part by suing white supremacist organizations into bankruptcy and then using that work to exaggerate the threat of “hate groups” and to scare donors into ponying up cash.

A deranged would-be terrorist used the SPLC’s “hate map” to target the conservative Christian group Family Research Council in 2012, intending to shoot everyone in the building and smear a Chick-fil-A sandwich in the face of each of his victims. A security guard prevented the attack, and while the SPLC condemned the assault, it has kept the Family Research Council on its “hate map” ever since.

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The SPLC, which advocates for LGBT causes, condemned the Family Research Council as an “anti-LGBT hate group,” ostensibly due to decadesold claims about a link between homosexuality and pedophilia (claims that the council no longer supports). The council and others claim that the SPLC targets conservative Christian organizations for their beliefs on marriage and the family. The SPLC, however, has claimed that it is “not anti-Christian at all.”

The SPLC also has advocated for a slew of left-wing causes, especially in education. Its training materials, sent through the program Learning for Justice, present critical race theory concepts, such as “white privilege” and “systemic racism.” Conservatives have argued that such lessons entail a form of discrimination on the basis of race by teaching that white children are inherently oppressors and black children are oppressed. SPLC educational materials also trumpet transgender identity and medical interventions for children. 

Given the SPLC’s activism in the classroom, Huang’s comments about school boards suggest that the new SPLC political action arms will promote critical race theory and oppose conservative efforts to outlaw discrimination in the classroom. 

After supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, the SPLC called for Congress to “discipline, censure, or expel” the 147 Republican senators and representatives who contested the results of the 2020 election.

The SPLC characterized that vote as Republicans “supported the insurrection.” It demanded strict penalties even though those Republicans condemned the violence at the Capitol and even though Democrats have repeatedly contested Republican presidential election victories in recent years.

Although some Republicans have made claims about the 2020 election that are not supported by evidence, some election integrity questions regarding the election remain unanswered, and the SPLC Action Fund press release suggests that commonsense election integrity reforms—such as Georgia’s 2021 law—amount to empowering “election deniers.” 

The SPLC and the SPLC Action Fund did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment by publication time, and they did not respond on behalf of the two PACs.

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