A group of conservative lawmakers demanded answers from the Department of Homeland Security in a letter Friday after it was disclosed that the department funded a university program that linked the GOP with Nazis.
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), who led the group of 15 lawmakers, slammed Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in the letter, accusing the secretary of infringing on the first amendment rights of conservatives.
“Under your leadership, the Department of Homeland Security has repeatedly targeted conservative Americans for lawfully expressing their First Amendment rights,” the letter, which was obtained by Fox News, said.
“The Constitution prohibits the federal government from suppressing the free speech of Americans, by any means, including the use of third parties to engage in unconstitutional attacks on free speech. But this unlawful federal speech regulatory regime continues to be the norm under the Biden administration,” it added.
The letter referred to DHS’s Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention Grant Program, which Biggs claimed awarded money to groups that “openly demonize and equate mainstream conservatism with domestic terrorism.”
One of the grant’s recipients the letter referred to was the University of Dayton for its PREVENTS-OH program. The department awarded the program $352,109 to “draw on the expertise of the University of Dayton faculty” and fight “domestic violence extremism and hate movements.” But the university’s application linked to a controversial conference where one speaker revealed a chart titled the “Pyramid of Far-Right Radicalization.”
The bottom of the pyramid, titled “mainstream conservatism,” included the Republican Party, the Heritage Foundation, the American Conservative Union, Fox News, the Christian Broadcasting Network, the National Rifle Association, Tea Party Patriots, and the Make America Great Again movement. Blue Lives Matter and Prager University were also on the pyramid.
Another level of the pyramid, however, showed hate groups like The Base, a neo-Nazi paramilitary group, and the Daily Stormer. Another presenter at the conference compared Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R-FL) 2021 proposal for the Florida State Guard, a state-operated volunteer civilian military force that would assist the National Guard in emergencies, to the Holocaust during World War II, Fox News reported. The proposed force would be under the control of Florida instead of the Pentagon.
DHS has awarded 80 grants to public, private, and nonprofit groups through the program.
“President Biden’s authoritarian Department of Homeland Security is weaponizing limited taxpayer money and department resources to crush conservatives in America,” Biggs said.
“This department appears to be taking guidance directly from George Orwell’s 1984 novel, in which a police state controls all speech and pummels all dissenters. America must never become that society. Secretary Mayorkas must answer my questions in full and justify why a multimillion-dollar counterterrorism program designed to prevent the next Osama bin Laden is being used to prey on innocuous conservatives,” he continued.
Biggs added that it was “especially concerning” that the winners of the grants were acknowledged by Mayorkas, who hosted the 2022 TVTP Grantee Symposium. The secretary also claimed the program was a “high priority” for the department.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) also slammed the Biden administration for awarding the grant to the university, agreeing that the group saw “no difference” between mainstream conservative organizations and Nazi Germany.
“It’s the latest example of the Biden administration being more than happy to weaponize the federal government to use the powers of the federal government to target you,” Cruz said on a podcast Wednesday. “They’re engaged in propaganda, and the propaganda is saying that anyone right of center is a terrorist, anyone right of center is a Nazi, anyone right of center is a klansman. It is the vicious lie that the radical Left pushes often. … Why is the government funding this? They’re funding it because they want to give fuel to the fire attacking those they view as enemies of the regime.”
The letter comes as Mayorkas faces calls to resign from conservative lawmakers over his handling of the immigration crisis on the U.S. southern border.