FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL—America First Legal filed a lawsuit Monday after the Justice Department refused to hand over its communications related to a report last June comparing parental rights organizations to the Ku Klux Klan.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a leftist group known for putting mainstream conservative and Christian organizations on a “hate map” with Klan chapters, added parental rights groups such as Moms for Liberty and Parents Defending Education to that “hate map” in June.

Parental rights groups have raised the alarm about divisive racial lessons and transgender lessons in schools, often championed in the name of diversity, equity, and inclusion, or DEI. The SPLC supports these lessons through its education arm, Learning for Justice.

“The Department of Justice has made it a priority to silence parents who speak out against DEI and the government-sponsored transgender agenda that is being pushed in public schools to children as young as 5 years old,” Ian Prior, senior adviser at America First Legal, told The Daily Signal in a written statement Monday. “The Southern Poverty Law Center appears to have been part of that effort—adding parent organizations to its so-called ‘hate map’ in 2023.”

“America First Legal is committed to shining a light on this abhorrent and anti-constitutional collusion between the DOJ and the SPLC to target parents who are exercising their rights to have a say in their children’s education,” Prior said of the Justice Department’s actions.

America First Legal, founded by former Trump administration officials, filed a Freedom of Information Act request in August. The request asked for records of all meetings between the DOJ and SPLC leaders and staff, records of communications between them, records related to the June report, and all communications containing terms such as “SPLC” and “Moms for Liberty.”

The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project received records showing that the Southern Poverty Law Center reached out to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division before releasing its “hate map” in June. The SPLC offered to brief Justice Department leaders on the “hate map,” and the department confirmed to the Washington Examiner that the briefing indeed took place, although it didn’t specify when. (The Daily Signal is The Heritage Foundation’s news outlet.)

America First Legal’s request under the Freedom of Information Act cited The Daily Signal’s reporting that Moms for Liberty received death threats in the wake of the SPLC attack.

The request also noted that President Joe Biden’s White House helped craft the National School Boards Association’s letter to Biden comparing concerned parents to domestic terrorists in October 2021. That letter, later retracted, led to an FBI memo, also later retracted.

America First Legal’s request also noted that SPLC leaders and staff met with White House officials at least 11 times since January 2021, when Biden took office.

Recently unearthed documents, unrelated to the request, showed that a leading Education Department official met with SPLC staff in 2022, one year before the SPLC put Moms for Liberty on its “hate map.”

As I wrote in my book “Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center,” the SPLC has faced numerous scandals related to its hate accusations. Its smears led to a domestic terrorist attack in 2012. The SPLC also paid millions to a Muslim reformer it branded an “anti-Muslim extremist.” And amid a racial discrimination and sexual harassment scandal that led the SPLC to fire its co-founder in 2019, a former employee called the “hate” accusations a “highly profitable scam.”

Yet the organization’s influence on the Biden administration appears widespread.

In a 2021 call with donors, SPLC President Margaret Huang bragged that the Biden administration reached out to her organization for advice to “help shape” its domestic terrorism strategy.

The Justice Department’s unwillingness to hand over documents to America First Legal raises more questions about the administration’s ties to the SPLC.

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