Fact Check: FAIR’s 2,555,000 Dimes For “Ethno-Separatist”

Jim Burroway

April 29th, 2010

Rachel Maddow interviewed Dan Stein of the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the group that claims credit for writing Arzona’s anti-immigration law which critics charge is a open invitation to racial profiling. In particular, Maddow drills Stein over FAIR’s extensive associations with White Supremacists.

Brutal. So who’s the more credible party: Maddow or Stein?

Well, we don’t have the wherewithal to fact check everything in this interview, but I knew I could easily fact-check Stein’s denial that FAIR donated any money or had any connections with an “ethno-separatist” during a 2004 Arizona ballot initiative. Protect Arizona Now (PAN), with “ethno-separatist” Virginia Abernathy chairing its national advisory board, was the prime force behind Arizona’s Prop 200 in 2004. At 19:33 in the interview, Stein said:

First of all, we never gave that organization a dime. And secondly, even if we were going to give them the dime, we wouldn’t have given the dime with Virginia Abernathy associated with it.

Unfortunately for Stein, donations for ballot initiatives are reportable to the Secretary of State and posted online. According to the Arizona Secretary of State’s Web Site:

  • On April 1, 2004, FAIR gave Virginia Abernathy’s PAN $50,000, and the FAIR Congressional Task Force gave them another $50,000 more.
  • On May 11, 2004, FAIR gave PAN $25,500, and the  FAIR Congressional Task Force gave PAN another $25,000.
  • On June 11, 2004, FAIR gave PAN $50,000, and the FAIR Congressional Task Force gave PAN another $55,000.

After Abernathy exploded publicly with her ethno-separatist views, FAIR did denounce Abernathy’s views. and on September 24, FAIR shifted its support to a new group that arose from those ashes, Yes on Proposition 200, with a $60,865 donation. But yes, despite Stein’s claim, FAIR provided Abernathy’s PAN with $255,500 out of $370,000 of reportable donations altogether.

In case you’re counting, that’s 2,555,000 dimes.


April 30th, 2010

The fact that he got so cagey and agitated, growing from his fake mask of pleasantness into outright hostility, didn’t help him.

Nevertheless, while who we are associated with can be a point of worry and suspicion, even detracting from future arguments made from that party, Maddow did fail in some aspect as he said.

Largely, Maddow does not debate the legislation on its merits, but rather seeks to do character assassination (and while acceptable, since these supremacists need to be crucified on the media), it is a lazy way out of defeating arguments you don’t like.

If you can prove that the guy is xenophobic but don’t feel inclined to debate the legislation on its language and legality, it is easier to get people to dismiss him via negative emotions toward someone being a xenophobe, despite any merits his arguments may have.

That to me is worrisome. Yes, a xenophobe’s arguments for immigration reform deserve to be suspect, but they should be evaluated by the standard procedures of argumentation, not taking the easy way out of pandering to emotions in order to avoid logically refuting the arguments.

If we follow Maddow’s procedure of dismissal by association (i.e. you have a personal interest in the debate), then that same approach hurts our cause when we find gay individuals arguing for equal rights.

The arguments need to be settled on their merits. And quite frankly, given how sloppy these anti-immigration organizations are, I don’t see why that’s such tough thing to ask for.

Kel Munger

April 30th, 2010

Good work, Jim.

And, Lucrece, he was claiming that Maddow used “guilt by association,” but I don’t buy it. She was making links between the leadership and the ideals they espouse to the organization they founded. Pretty clear to me, and pretty clear that he didn’t say “Tanton has changed his views and apologized.” That’s because those are the views of FAIR’s leadership–“the white folks are in danger!”

Guilt by association would be if she was trying to nail them for INCIDENTALLY being in contact with these people. As Jim’s research shows (along with Maddow’s), the ties went much deeper than having met once at a fundraiser for a charity or something.

These guys are the Klan with a good education, great diction, a $150 haircut and a nice suit. Same crap, different wrapper.


April 30th, 2010

Kel, that was not my point.

My point is that regardless of whether they are some sort of supremacists, that does not mean their argument canno have merit. Their argument will certainly be suspect, but it NEEDS to be refuted logically and not by emotional appeal to society’s disapproval of racism and xenophobia.

In essence, it is lazy to use “He’s , so DISMISS HIS ARGUMENTS WITHOUT CONSIDERING THEM AT ALL.” because the same tool has been used against gay people. It’s not proper; we need to dismantle their arguments with fact-checking and logic, not through populist methods.


April 30th, 2010

I agree.. and regardless, the law passed with plenty of support all around, and I doubt they were all white supremacists, nor are the 70% that support it.

It’s an interesting point of information, but the fact remains even if someone like that weren’t leading the charge, Arizona would still end up with something like this law I would think..


April 30th, 2010

I agree with Burr that Arizona would’ve come up with something like this law with or without Mr. Pearce. But I think that’s a sad reflection on Arizona more than anything else.

As far as the whole “is this guy xenophobic” debate, I think it’s a valid part of the argument, but I don’t think Rachel Maddow or Jim Burroway are basing their entire (or even most of their) argument on the racism of its proponents. Investigating links that point toward animus in a bill that is going to affect one minority group more than others is hardly an invalid ad-hominem point.


May 1st, 2010

I’m a devoted Maddow fan, but I agree with Lucrece and Burr re: the approach to dissing the shadowy organizations behind the push for the AZ law. Fortunately it looks as if enough pressure has occurred from so many demonstrations that the law will be modified, in a good way, we hope ;-P We all need to remember that regional differences exist, ie. someone in North Dakota is not likely to have the same issues as someone in Arizona or Texas. Diligence is important nationwide, but the old Indian adage applies…walk a mile in my shoes (mocassins) before you judge…


May 1st, 2010

I love Rachel Maddow, but don’t paint everyone who supports the enforcement of our immigration laws with this nut case.

a. mcewen

May 1st, 2010

that “nutcase” just helped to pass a nasty law. right now, folks like him are the face of “immigration laws.”


May 1st, 2010

To A. Mcewen, our immigration laws are not enforced. Should we have any laws regarding immigration at all? Try immigrating to Mexico, you would not qualify under their very strict laws.

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