The Department of Homeland Security has been called out by GOP lawmakers for its repeated targeting of conservative Americans, and for funding a university program that explicitly links the Republican Party, as well as Christian and conservative groups, into the same category as organizations that promote Nazi ideology, Fox News reported on Friday.
Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., on Friday sent a letter cosigned by 15 other Republicans to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Biggs' letter, which was obtained by Fox News Digital, strongly urged Mayorkas and DHS to stop their alleged pursuit against political adversaries of President Joe Biden's administration.
"Under your leadership, the Department of Homeland Security has repeatedly targeted conservative Americans for lawfully expressing their First Amendment rights," Biggs' letter stated. "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."
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The Arizona congressman also highlighted in the letter a Homeland Security grant that, according to him, provides funding to organizations that "openly demonize and equate mainstream conservatism with domestic terrorism." He added that it's Mayorkas' "duty to stop this un-American politically motivated targeting of ideas."
Biggs' letter refers to stories reported last May which revealed Homeland Security had doled out over $350,000 in taxpayer-funded, anti-terrorism grant money to a University of Dayton program known as the Preventing Radicalization to Extremist Violence through Education, Network-Building and Training in Southwest Ohio (PREVENTS-OH) project.
The program, according to documents obtained by conservative media watchdog Media Research Center (MRC), positioned the Republican Party and several mainstream conservative groups on a "Pyramid of Far-Fight Radicalization" chart alongside militant neo-Nazis. The University of Dayton's grant application to DHS footnoted a link to a controversial Dayton conference in which an academic researcher presented the chart.
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Newsmax reported on Thursday how the Tea Party Patriots (TPP) Action organization, a grassroots conservative group, was among one of the many organizations featured in the program pyramid. In addition to TPP Action and the Republican Party, organizations listed on the pyramid included The Heritage Foundation, the American Conservative Union, Fox News, the National Rifle Association, the Make America Great Again movement, the Blue Lives Matter pro-police movement, and the Christian Broadcasting Network.
The chart also included The Base, a neo-Nazi paramilitary group, the Daily Stormer, a pro-Nazi publication, and other hate groups, featuring them in a manner that suggests a comparison of them to the GOP and other mainstream conservative organizations.
Fox also reported on several other Dayton of University seminars, including one from 2021 called "Extremism, Rhetoric, and Democratic Precarity," during which several experts compared mainstream conservatives to genocidal extremists. In addition to presenting the "Pyramid of Far-Right Radicalization," one speaker compared the Trump administration to the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot's regime in Cambodia that massacred an estimated 1.5 million-2 million people in the 1970s. Another speaker likened Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' proposal of a volunteer civilian military force to assist the National Guard with emergencies to the Nazis' Holocaust during World War II.
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Although this and several other similar seminars were conducted at the University of Dayton, both DHS and the university have insisted that they were separate from, and predated DHS awarding money to, PREVENTS-OH, despite the school including links to their seminars in its gran applications. Both have also contended that they neither target nor discriminate against groups expressing their constitutional rights.
The MRC obtained its documents through Freedom of Information Act requests which shed light on divisive recipients of DHS' Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention (TVTP) Grant Program (TVTP). The TVTP program provides funding for U.S.-based applicants and public, private, and nonprofit institutions "to establish or enhance capabilities to prevent targeted violence and terrorism."
Under the Biden administration, the DHS' TVTP has awarded 80 grants totaling nearly $40 million of taxpayers' money to focus on domestic extremist hate groups.
"President Biden's authoritarian Department of Homeland Security is weaponizing limited taxpayer money and department resources to crush conservatives in America," Biggs told Fox News Digital. "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."
Biggs added, "Secretary Mayorkas must answer my questions in full and justify why a multi-million-dollar counter-terrorism program designed to prevent the next Osama Bin Laden is being used to prey on innocuous conservatives."
The congressman's letter has requested that by June 11 Mayorkas and DHS respond to 16 questions about TVTP grants and their approach to extremism and terrorism. The letter added that the Biden administration shouldn't award grants relating to combatting domestic radicalization to organizations and municipalities that "lack the ability to discern between speech and legitimate political decisions they disagree with and domestic terrorism."
Biggs stated in his letter that he found it "especially concerning" that TVTP grants were very much on the radar of DHS leadership.
In a document obtained by the MRC, the Maryland Department of Emergency Management wrote of the 2022 TVTP Grantee Symposium that Mayorkas hosted: "Secretary Mayorkas thanked the grantees for their work, and he reassured all in attendance that this program is a priority for the department and that the work being done is of the highest importance."
Biggs' letter to Mayorkas comes amid growing calls for the DHS secretary to resign due to his handling of the southern border crisis. Republicans have also continued to push for Mayorkas' impeachment for allegedly neglecting his duties.
Others besides the Arizona congressman and his GOP cosigners have taken notice of the DHS' program funding and targeting of conservatives. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, discussed the matter earlier this week on his podcast, "Verdict With Ted Cruz."
"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. "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."
Cruz added that he wants both the House and Senate to hold hearings on the DHS' actions and to examine that taxpayer money is being spent responsibly on anti-extremism programs.
According to Fox News, the Department of Homeland Security has not responded to its requests to comment on its story.
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