FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL—Conservatives in Congress condemned the Biden administration in the wake of the revelation that a high-ranking Department of Education official met with the Southern Poverty Law Center one year before the SPLC added parental rights groups, including Moms for Liberty, to its “hate map” that includes conservatives along with KKK groups.

“Moms for Liberty and the whole parental rights movement is a force to be reckoned with. These patriotic parents turned Virginia red, and the Left is terrified that they will help take our country back in 2024,” Sen. Ted Cruz told The Daily Signal in a written statement Monday.

Cruz’s remarks came after The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project released documents Monday revealing that two SPLC staffers met in 2022 with the Biden administration official in charge of a White House initiative on historically black colleges and universities. (The Daily Signal is The Heritage Foundation’s news outlet.)

“They have a huge target on their back because they are effective,” Cruz said of parental rights groups. “The Left knows that they cannot win a fair fight since their policies are so terrible. Instead of debating on policy, the Biden administration deployed their attack dogs at the Southern Poverty Law Center to smear these parental rights groups by listing them alongside the KKK as hate groups.”

The Texas Republican also shamed the legacy media for failing to cover stories such as this one about the Biden Department of Education’s collaboration with the SPLC.

“I am grateful for [The Daily Signal’s] fantastic work exposing the SPLC for the fraud that it is,” he said. “I challenge the so-called reporters in the corporate media: Have an ounce of honesty and cover this story.”

The SPLC, which has weaponized the program it used against the KKK in the 1980s to attack mainstream conservative and Christian organizations, in June added parental rights groups to its so-called hate map, among them Moms for Liberty, Parents Defending Education, Purple for Parents, and Courage Is a Habit.

The White House previously targeted parents who spoke out to school boards amid school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic, helping to draft the (later rescinded) National School Boards Association letter to President Joe Biden comparing concerned parents to domestic terrorists.

The SPLC stopped short of calling these parental rights organizations “hate groups,” instead branding them “antigovernment extremist groups” as part of an “anti-student inclusion movement.” Yet the SPLC compared the parents groups to “uptown klans” of the 1950s, which opposed school integration in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision.

The documents released Monday by Heritage’s Oversight Project show that Dietra Trent, executive director of the White House initiative on historically black colleges and universities, met July 5, 2022, with SPLC staffers LaShawn Warren, chief policy officer, and Michael Lieberman, senior policy counsel for hate and extremism. Department of Education staff set up the meeting using Trent’s email address at that agency.

The SPLC’s libelous tactics are despicable, and it is disgusting that the Biden administration would use them to attack American citizens who believe in parental rights,” Cruz said. “The SPLC’s tactics are dangerous, and it even led to an angry leftist showing up with a gun at the Family Research Council. Thankfully, no one was killed, but these libelous smear tactics have real consequences.”

The Texas senator was referring to a 2012 incident in which a terrorist gunman used the SPLC “hate map” to target the the Family Research Council, a Christian nonprofit. He planned to shoot everyone in the building, but the building manager successfully foiled his plan.

Although the SPLC condemned the attack, it kept FRC on its map.

‘Our Opposition’

Heritage’s Oversight Project also unearthed slides from what appears to be a training session run at the Department of Education by the pro-LGBTQ group Equality Federation. (The department did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.)

The document, titled “The Legal Assault on Trans Youth & How to Fight Back,” describes conservative organizations as “our opposition.” The Equality Federation highlights Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization SPLC has branded an “anti-LGBTQ hate group,” as well as Moms for Liberty, The Heritage Foundation, and the American Principles Project.

Sen. Katie Britt called this revelation “sickening.”

“To see the Biden administration smear parental rights advocates and Christians as the ‘opposition’ is sickening and un-American,” Britt, an Alabama Republican, told The Daily Signal in a written statement Monday.

“Parents have it tough enough under President Biden’s radical agenda, from runaway prices at the grocery store and gas pump to the border crisis endangering our communities and the world continuing to grow less safe by the day,” Britt added. “This latest revelation confirms that not only are hardworking American families the victims of the Biden administration—they are also the intended targets.”

Britt urged concerned parents to keep speaking up despite such attacks.

“Moms and dads—who simply want their children to have the opportunity to live their American Dream and reach their God-given potential—should continue to make their voices heard,” she said.

‘Weaponize the Government’

McKinley Lewis, communications director for Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., also condemned the Department of Education’s association with the SPLC.

“The SPLC is a corrupt and vicious tool used by far-left radicals to label anyone they disagree with as hateful or extremist to advance their own extreme political agenda – even parents well within their rights to be involved in the education of their children,” Lewis told The Daily Signal in a statement Wednesday.

“Senator Scott is disturbed by the continued reports of the Biden administration’s close work and coordination with the SPLC,” she added. “This further proves that Biden is allowing radical groups to weaponize the government against the American people – especially those whom Biden views as political opponents.”

‘Orwellian Executive Overreach’

Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., chairwoman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, also condemned the Biden administration’s work with the SPLC.

“The Southern Poverty Law Center is nothing more than a sounding board for socialist ideologues who oppose parents who simply want to exercise their God-given rights to raise and protect their children,” Foxx told The Daily Signal. “Time and again, Republicans have stood alongside our nation’s proud moms and dads and pushed back against President Biden’s continued efforts to target and shame them into submission—we have no plans on backing down any time soon.”

Another member of the House Education and Workforce Committee, Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich., called the collaboration between the Department of Education and the SPLC “beyond concerning.”

“Make no mistake about it, the collusion between Biden’s DOE and the SPLC is beyond concerning,” McClain told The Daily Signal. “If we allow this kind of Orwellian executive overreach to go unanswered then we are no longer a society that values our First Amendment rights.”

Moms for Liberty co-founder Tiffany Justice also responded to the revelations.

“We have known for some time the Biden administration has made it their mission to attack parents who publicly advocate for their children’s education,” Justice told The Daily Signal. “Attending public school board meetings and voicing concerns about our children’s education should not put a target on our backs to be silenced by the federal government.”

Biden-SPLC Collusion

The Daily Signal previously reported that Margaret Huang, SPLC’s president, appears in a video bragging to donors at a fall 2021 meeting that many Biden administration agencies had approached the center to craft a domestic terrorism strategy.

“I think there’s no question that we are unparalleled in our abilities to track and monitor the hate and extremist groups in the country, and I can tell you that we’ve had many agencies in the new Biden administration reaching out to solicit our expertise and our knowledge and information to help shape the policies that the new administration is adopting to counter the domestic terrorism threat,” Huang said, according to the video.

The Biden administration’s ties to the SPLC make Huang’s claim credible, and neither the White House nor any of the agencies involved in the administration’s domestic terrorism strategy has denied Huang’s assertion.

Biden and his team have hosted SPLC leaders and staff at the White House at least 11 times since Jan. 20, 2021, when Biden became president. Biden nominated an SPLC attorney, Nancy Abudu, to a federal judgeship.

Last year, the FBI’s office in Richmond, Virginia, used the SPLC’s “hate group” list to target “radical-traditional Catholics” in a now-infamous memo. As I wrote in my book “Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center,” the SPLC’s logic suggests that the entire Roman Catholic Church is a “hate group.”

Earlier this month, the White House touted Vice President Kamala Harris’ meeting “with voting rights leaders.” Among the leaders highlighted: Seth Levi, the SPLC’s chief strategy officer.

Critics on both the Right and the Left long have accused the Southern Poverty Law Center of exaggerating hate in order to scare donors into ponying up cash. In 2019, amid a racial discrimination and sexual harassment scandal, a former employee called the SPLC’s “hate” accusations a “highly profitable scam.”

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