Ugly Ties: The Trump Administration and Hate Groups

The Trump administration has had no problem speaking to, working with, and headhunting from organizations classified as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Here, I have compiled numerous instances of officials in the administration meeting with or speaking to these organizations, as well as recruiting personnel from these very hate groups to join their team. Listed below are seven total violations of the no-contact order that, until recently, I assumed existed between these groups and the highest levels of government.

If I have overlooked any, please leave them in the comments below.

ACT for America

ACT for America’s leader and anti-Islam fearmongerer Brigitte Gabriel had a meeting at the White House in March that the administration initially denied but eventually admitted to. In addition, Michael Flynn, who had a very brief, but official, tenure with the Trump administration and served as a campaign adviser for Trump, also serves  on the board of ACT for America, described by the SPLC as “far and away the largest grassroots anti-Muslim group in America.”

Alliance Defending Freedom

Earlier this month Jeff Sessions (the attorney general soon to be fired and replaced by Judge Judy for all we know) gave a closed-door speech to this organization, which earns the “hate group” designation for their regressive views on LGBTQ issues, such as ending same-sex marriage and recriminalizing homosexuality abroad.

Center for Family and Human Rights

Lisa Correnti, the executive vice president of this anti-LGBTQ group, was an official representative of the Trump administration at the 61st session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women held in March. According to the SPLC, C-FAM has “a long history of anti-LGBT and anti-choice lobbying at the United Nations.” Additionally, the group’s president, Austin Ruse, supports Russia’s restrictions on pro-LGBTQ speech and other controversial positions.

Center for Immigration Studies (CIS)

Jon Feere, formerly a policy analyst at CIS, was appointed to a federal position at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Both CIS and the Federation for American Immigration Reform are funded by John Tanton, who the SPLC describes as, “the racist architect of the modern anti-immigrant movement.” Apparently aware of the SPLC’s dislike for his organizations, his allies have created a fake SPLC website that attempts to reassert the credibility of several anti-immigrant groups linked to Tanton.

Family Research Council (FRC)

This past June a “family engagement” conference at the Department of Education featured speakers from the FRC, an organization as radically opposed to homosexuality as Betsy DeVos is to a secular public education. In addition, The FRC’s Ken Blackwell, who once compared gay people to arsonists, has been promoted to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity from his initial position as the head of domestic policy  on Trump’s transition team.

Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)

Things were already pretty bad when possible neo-Nazi and Trump advisor Sebastian Gorka attended FAIR’s “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” conference back in February. Now, Julie Kirchner, who served for ten years as FAIR’s executive director, has been appointed to US Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is concerning given that according to the SPLC, “FAIR leaders have ties to white supremacist groups and eugenicists and have made many racist statements.”

Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI)

Kris Kobach, appointed to Trump’s Voter Fraud Commission/Wild Goose Chase, serves as counsel for IRLI (the legal branch of FAIR), whose mission is to defend the public “from the negative and predatory effects of unlawful immigration and ungoverned legal immigration.”

Consistency may be what makes great athletes great, but it’s not what makes Trump’s America great. Trump has unfortunately shown a great deal of consistency in hate through his transition into the presidency. Appointing anti-immigrant zealots after a campaign built around building that wall? Check. Meeting with Islamophobes after promising to ban all Muslims? Check. Giving voice to biblical “family values” crusaders after selecting a vice president who is to LGBTQ equality what chocolate is to dogs? Check.

Given these associations, and Trump’s enthusiasm for working with people like Steve Bannon and Rudy Giuliani, whose names may not appear on this list but whose hearts seem nonetheless to be brimming with hate, the importance of organizations like the SPLC will only grow over the next four years. (And although not everyone agrees with every entity they classify as hateful, that doesn’t render their list irrelevant.) The greatest role, however, falls to the public: to make the request, whether at the voting booth, at rallies, or in handwritten letters to President Trump and his team (just write the return address in Cyrillic and they’ll be sure to open), that hate groups and their supporters should be kept far away from the White House.