Our VoiceImmigrationNews & Politics

Dan Stein’s Pants are on Fire

Jill Garvey • Apr 30, 2010

dansteinDan Stein, President of FAIR, went on The Rachel Maddow Show last night and lied.

Dan Stein told Maddow, “We’ve certainly never had anything to do with Virginia Abernethy. I don’t know where you got the idea that we worked closely with her. We never have.”

Here is the truth: Virginia Abernethy, a self-described white separatist, was a national advisory board member for Protect Arizona Now (PAN) in 2004, the same year that FAIR financially supported the organization with hundreds of thousands of dollars to pass an anti-immigrant referendum (even back then FAIR was screwing with AZ’s immigration laws). When the connection was exposed by the Center for New Community in a special report, FAIR denounced Abernethy’s racist views. Which is weird because the guys at FAIR (John Tanton especially) had known Virginia for at least 10 years already.

In 1985 John Tanton founded another organization, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), as a project directly under the control of FAIR. Virginia Abernethy took part in a CIS- sponsored discussion all the way back in 1994 with current FAIR board member Frank Morris and current FAIR national board advisors Richard Lamm, Donald Collins, and Lawrence Harrison.

Abernethy’s writing has been published and featured extensively by John Tanton’s The Social Contract, a white nationalist quarterly journal. FAIR founder John Tanton works closely with Wayne Lutton to edit The Social Contract. Lutton is a Board of Director for the Charles Martel Society, an anti-Semitic organization that publishes the Occidental Quarterly. Wayne Lutton is also no stranger to Virginia - at a 2004 Council of Conservative Citizens conference they sat on a panel together called “The Immigration Invasion”. Both Abernethy and Lutton were also members of the Citizen’s Informer advisory board, CofCC’s newspaper.

Two of FAIR’s former staffers have also been associated with the Council of Conservative Citizens, the reconstituted, segregationist White Citizens’ Councils. FAIR’s former western field representative, Rick Oltman, is also listed as a member of CofCC. This is the same Rick Oltman who was, as uncovered by Maddow on FAIR’s website, described in 2004 as “working with activists in Arizona to help raise funds and public awareness for the Protect Arizona Now initiative.”

When Rachel Maddow pointed out Rick Oltman’s employment with FAIR and his membership with CofCC (even producing a picture of Oltman at a CofCC event) and asked if these facts were true, Stein replied, “No, you’re not stating any facts that are accurate.”

Back in 2004 Oltman was still working for FAIR in Arizona when he was awarded the Person of the Year Award by American Patrol (another anti-immigrant group). This honor was bestowed upon him for his work with FAIR to pass Proposition 200; a highly controversial anti-immigrant law. On American Patrol’s website Oltman states in an interview that “Dan” sent him $250,000 to finish the campaign.

During the Maddow interview, Stein went on to say, “We never gave that organization dime,” in reference to PAN. “…even if we were going to give them a dime, we wouldn’t have given them a dime with Virginia Abernethy associated with it.” Too bad for Stein The Rachel Maddow Show fact-checked his lies and exposed them immediately after the program.

Maddow stuck to her research even as Dan Stein dishonestly attempted to discredit her. It’s too bad there aren’t more journalists out there who are willing to do the background work necessary to ferret out politically extreme groups like FAIR.

Yesterday, the New York Times made the poor decision to publish an op-ed column by Kris Kobach, a long-time employee of FAIR’s legal arm, Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) and one of the individuals who helped craft Arizona’s new anti-immigrant bill. Kris Kobach has a reputation for using communities in conflict, like Arizona’s, to give his organization mainstream legitimacy in the immigration debate, regardless of the cost to residents. While Arizona plunges deeper into what will surely be a costly fight, Kris Kobach is reaping a fat paycheck and a boost to his public profile.

It’s not a question of why the NYT’s editorial board would feature a conservative voice in defense of the much-criticized law, but why it would feature a voice proven to be tied up with racist organizations. Would it allow a neo-nazi to write a column on anti-Semitism?

It doesn’t provide better perspective, just a platform for further abuse.

But the New York Times, as with many other mainstream news outlets, can’t say they weren’t warned. Civil rights groups have been sounding the alarm about FAIR and its cadre of anti-immigrant affiliates for many years now. It’s time they start listening.

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