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Press Release Published: Dec 11, 2023

Comer Probes Southern Poverty Law Center’s Influence Over Federal Employees

WASHINGTON—House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) is investigating the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) influence over federal employees by weaponizing its designation of “hate group” to target conservative organizations. In a letter to U.S. Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, Chairman Comer requests all communications between the Department of Education and the SPLC to determine how extensively federal employees are utilizing flawed information that effectively discriminates against Americans for their First Amendment protected political views.

“The Committee on Oversight and Accountability is investigating the extent to which the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC or 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,” wrote Chairman Comer. “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.”

White House visitor logs obtained reveal that meetings with SPLC officials took place at least eleven times over the past three years. On January 6, 2023, Susan Corke, the director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project, met with National Security Council counterterrorism director John Picarelli. Six months after the meeting, Corke made the decision to place multiple parental rights groups on its “hate map” and branded them “antigovernment groups.” The decision came only a few years after the Biden Administration and the Department of Justice acquiesced to demands of the National School Board 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,” continued Chairman Comer. “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.”

Read the letter to Secretary Cardona here.