10 months ago

Rep. Brooks: Redstone Arsenal U.S. Army officials ‘illegally distributed propaganda’ claiming ‘Make America Great Again’ constitutes ‘white supremacy’

According to a press release issued by U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks’ (R-Huntsville) office on Wednesday, U.S. Army officials at North Alabama’s Redstone Arsenal may have used federal government resources to distribute to base civilian and uniformed personnel “racist and partisan political propaganda.”

A statement from Brooks called the effort to be in direct violation of the Hatch Act and any number of military regulations.

As pointed out by the release, the email invited “All soldiers and (Department of the Army) Civilian Personnel” to attend “Operation Inclusion” seminars July 8 and 9 at Redstone Arsenal’s Bob Jones Auditorium at the Sparkman Center Complex.

The email was sent by “Chanley P. Pickard,” who, according to Brooks’ office, is part of the U.S. Army Aviation & Missile Center, through an official government email address: “Chanley.p.pickard.civ@mail.mil.”

“The invitation was sent to an unknown number of recipients, but likely in the thousands if the invitation went to all Redstone Arsenal Army civilian and uniformed personnel,” the release stated. “The U.S. Army email further states it is by the ‘U.S. Army Equity & Inclusion Agency’ and ‘Assistant Secretary of the Army – Manpower and Reserve Affairs.'”

“Disturbingly, the Army chose Redstone Arsenal as the first location on a tour that will cover all Army 4 star commands,” the release continued. “The illegal, racist and politically partisan material includes a pyramid graphic that claims the following are evidence of “White Supremacy,” and, hence, racism.”

The “propaganda” in question included a number of partisan statements and slogans:

“Education Funding from Property Taxes”
“Calling the Police on Black People”
Using the phrase “All Lives Matter”
“Denial of White Privilege”
“Inequitable Healthcare”
“Anti-Immigration Policies”
“English-Only Initiatives”
“Celebration of Columbus Day”
Talking about American “Exceptionalism”
“Claiming Reverse-Racism”
Stating “There’s Only One Human Race”

Flyer as follows (courtesy of U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks’ office):





Brooks offered the following statement criticizing the gesture:

Congressman Brooks said, “U.S. Army personnel have violated the Hatch Act and any number of military regulations by distributing materials that, among other offensive things, labels president Donald Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan or ‘Celebration of Columbus Day’ as white supremacist. The Hatch Act prohibits federal government executive branch employees from engaging in defined, banned political activity. ALL U.S. Army civilian and uniformed personnel who drafted, approved or sent this racist and politically partisan email, using government resources, should be prosecuted for their Hatch Act violations and summarily fired for blatantly and illegally injecting themselves into partisan political activities on government time using federal taxpayer money.”

Brooks added, “Heads should roll. I ask the U.S. Army to investigate this matter and send me a report of (a) who was involved in these Hatch Act violations, (b) whether they will be prosecuted pursuant to the Hatch Act, and (c) whether they will be terminated for their illegal conduct (as I would expect of any federal government employee who blatantly disregards and violates the Hatch Act). The U.S. Army is not the place for political indoctrination or reeducation experimentation. These vile violators of the Hatch Act should be made an example as a stern warning to other federal employees that no one is above the law when it comes to illegally using federal government resources to promote racial division and advance a partisan political agenda.”

Brooks continued, “In March 2018, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel advised executive branch employees that, while on duty or in the federal workplace, they may not engage in activity directed toward the success or failure of President Trump’s reelection campaign. More specifically, while on duty or in a federal workplace, federal employees are prohibited from wearing, displaying, or distributing items from President Trump’s 2016 or 2020 campaigns, like ‘Make America Great Again,’ ‘#MAGA,’ or, in the alternative, items directed at the failure of President Trump’s reelection campaign.[1] Just as federal employees may not use federal time and resources to promote ‘Make America Great Again’, neither may employees use federal time and resources to denigrate ‘Make America Great Again’.”

Brooks concluded, “Numerous Redstone Arsenal employees have expressed outrage to me about the U.S. Army blatantly violating the Hatch Act and, in effect, labeling patriotic Americans ‘White Supremacists’ and racists if they say or do dozens of things outlined in the U.S. Army email. I have written to U.S. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy requesting the following information:

1.            Who within the Department of the Army is responsible for the creation of the email and document?

2.            Who within the Department of the Army approved the email and document?

3.            Pursuant to the creation and approval of the document, was there a violation of either the Hatch Act or DoD Directive 1344.10?

4.            If a violation of the Hatch Act or DoD Directive 1344.10 is found to have occurred, will those responsible be held accountable for their actions?

5.           If it is found that a violation occurred (which seems pretty obvious), how will those federal employees be held accountable for their illegal conduct?

I aim to get to the bottom of this outrageous propaganda and see that those responsible are appropriately prosecuted and fired.”

Brooks’ office also issued a letter to Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy, which was copied to President Donald Trump, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, among others:

July 8, 2020

The Honorable Ryan D. McCarthy
Secretary of the Army
101 Army Pentagon, Room 3E700
Washington, D.C. 20310-0101

Dear Secretary McCarthy:

It has come to my attention that earlier this week, as part of Operation Inclusion, an official invitation to an Army Listening Session with a Headquarters, Department of the Army (HDQA) Inclusion Advisory Team was sent to Department of Defense uniform and civilian personnel and, perhaps, even Department of Defense contractors in the private sector. Appallingly, the invitation included an overtly political Army document, which included a chart stating that the phrase “Make America Great Again” or “Celebrating Columbus Day” or “Calling the Police on Black People” or using the phrase “All Lives Matter” or “Denying White Privilege” (among many, many other things) constitutes “white supremacy” and, therefore, racism!

The federal Office of Special Counsel has issued guidance declaring use of the phrase “Make America Great Again” as political activity.[1] Conversely, attacking the phrase “Make America Great Again” is similarly political activity barred by the Hatch Act.  Distribution of materials with the phrase, on federal property or using government material, is a violation of the Hatch Act (P.L. 76-252), which applies to all DoD civilian employees, Reservists, and members of the National Guard.[2] Additionally, as guidance from the Office of Special Counsel makes clear, distributing items with the term “Make America Great Again”[3], whether in support of or opposition to President Trump’s reelection campaign “would constitute political activity if tied to candidates or political parties.”[4]

As you may also be aware, DoD Directive 1344.10, on Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces, specifically states in section 4.1.2, that “a member of the Armed Forces on active duty shall not:”… use official authority or influence to interfere with an election, affect the course or outcome of an election, solicit votes for a particular candidate or issue, or require or solicit political contributions from others.”[5]

The U.S. Army’s use of a graphic that claims “Make America Great Again” (among many other things) constitutes “white supremacy” and, thus, racism, in a clearly marked Army product distributed to U.S. Army uniform and civilian personnel working on or for Redstone Arsenal (a major U.S. military base) using an official email account is in violation of the law, federal regulations, and DoD Directives.

Therefore, I respectfully request the following information:

1.  Who within the Department of the Army is responsible for the creation of the flyer/brochure and email?

2.  Who within the Department of the Army approved the flyer/brochure and email?

3.  Pursuant to the creation, approval, and distribution of the flyer/brochure and email,

was there a violation of either the Hatch Act or DoD Directive 1344.10?

4.  If a violation of the Hatch Act or DoD Directive 1344.10 is found to have occurred (a violation seems pretty obvious), will those responsible be held accountable for their actions?

5. If it is found that a violation occurred, how will those federal employees be held accountable for their illegal conduct?

Listening sessions, as means to check the pulse of the workforce and to foster communication among managers and employees, can be appropriate. Including overtly political materials in the invitation for such an event is completely inappropriate and, in this instance and in my view, illegal. Further, the inclusion of such materials serves only to ostracize segments of the workforce and create racial division, rather than minimize it. What occurred is absolutely unacceptable, and I expect Army leadership to fully investigate whether this incident violated the Hatch Act or any Department of Defense regulation and to appropriately hold those responsible accountable to the fullest extent possible.

There are better ways to accomplish this mission of Operation Inclusion without demonizing and asserting that those who support President Trump are “White Supremacists” and, therefore, racists.  By including such outlandish propaganda in Army documents, the Army will only continue to sow divisions among their workforce.

Sincerely,

Mo Brooks
Member of Congress

CC:

The Honorable Donald J. Trump
President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

The Honorable Mark T. Esper
Secretary
Department of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon, Room 3E880
Washington, D.C. 20310-1000

Henry Kerner
Special Counsel
U.S. Office of Special of Counsel
1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 218
Washington, DC 20036-4505

Dr. Juanita Christensen
Executive Director
U.S. Army CCDC AvMC
Bldg. 5400
Redstone Arsenal, AL 35898

The Honorable Mark Meadows

Chief of Staff

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

 

The Honorable William Barr

Attorney General

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20530

[1] Updated Hatch Act Guidance for Federal Employees After President Trump Becomes Candidate for Reelection, U.S. Office of Special Counsel (March 5, 2018), https://osc.gov/Documents/Hatch%20Act/Advisory%20Opinions/Federal/Current%20Guidance%20on%20President%20Trump%27s%20Reelection%20Status.pdf

[2] 5 U.S.C. § 7324

[3] Clarification of November 27, 2018 email, U.S. Office of Special Counsel (November 20, 2018), https://osc.gov/pages/advisory-opinions.aspx

[4]Letter from Chief of the Hatch Act Unit, Ana Galindo-Marrone, U.S. Office of Special Counsel (March 17, 2020), https://osc.gov/Documents/Hatch%20Act/Advisory%20Opinions/Federal/Agency%20Hosting%20Lecture%20on%20Politically-Charged%20Topics.pdf

 

[5]Department of Defense, Directive No. 1344.10 (Feb. 19, 2008), https://www.esd.whs.mil/Portals/54/Documents/DD/issuances/dodd/134410p.pdf

###

[1] https://osc.gov/News/Pages/18-23-Updated-Hatch-Guidance.aspx

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN.

13 hours ago

How the Regions Tradition led to Alabama’s star-studded vaccine PSAs

You already know the Regions Tradition’s reputation for competition. It’s the first major on the PGA TOUR Champions schedule in 2021, and it produces millions for charities.

But it’s also the place where things get done. And this year’s focus was intended to save lives.

The Bruno Event Team, which manages the Tradition, and the Alabama Department of Public Health used the annual Celebrity Pro-Am tournament as a stage to create a public awareness campaign encouraging Alabamians to get the COVID vaccine ASAP.

The idea, the pitch and the execution all came together in a week. And when approached, the centerpiece of the project agreed to participate without hesitation.

The centerpiece?

Alabama football coach Nick Saban.

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RELATED: College football’s biggest names turn out for 2021 Regions Tradition Celebrity Pro-Am

“Research told us you don’t use national celebrities,” said Gene Hallman of the Bruno Event Team, which produced the spots. “You use local doctors, nurses and healthcare workers. Or you use local celebrities. And in this state, no one is better known than Coach Saban.”

In fact, according to a Montgomery pollster the Bruno team consulted, there’s no one more respected throughout the state than Saban. John Anzalone told the Wall Street Journal that Saban’s favorability rating is the highest in the state – 77 percent. That means that even Auburn fans who root against him each week still respect him.

Or, as Anzalone told the Wall Street Journal, “He is a God.”

The Alabama Department of Public Health reached out to the Bruno team to create a marketing campaign for the state’s underserved population, intending for the spots to motivate Black, Latino and tribal populations to get the vaccines. The public awareness videos will run on television and radio stations statewide, as well as on social media.

But as the campaign expanded, the goalpost moved. With federal and state grants provided for that specific reason, “we’re going to try to reach a very broad audience – the entire state,” Hallman said. “We’re not hammering people. We just want to provide an education on the science of the vaccine, so people can make an informed decision.”

And, since it’s Alabama, there’s also another lure: the opportunity to pack college football stadiums at 100% capacity next fall if enough people get vaccinated.

It’s not the first time the tournament known as the Regions Tradition proved to be a catalyst for change.

When the Champions Tour first came to Birmingham in 1992, Hallman’s group was called in to help with a very hush-hush operation. They were told an unnamed group of visitors from Europe, interested in bringing business to the U.S., would be coming to town to see what Alabama had to offer. No other information was provided, but they were to be shown a good time.

Only one problem.

The first tournament was held in August, a notoriously bad time for southern hospitality – at least for people used to cooler weather than the notorious sticky, 100-degree days. But, as luck would have it, an unusual cold front swept in at the start of the tournament, providing record low temperatures that created perfect temps for the visitors.

So, the secret entourage spent a week at the tournament, got to meet popular Champions Tour legend Chi Chi Rodriguez, and spent a day touring a large plot of land outside Tuscaloosa, less than an hour away …  land that would eventually become the site of Alabama’s first automotive manufacturing plant.

As for the vaccine spots, once Saban came on board others followed. The list includes an NBA legend, a college conference commissioner, a U.S. Senator and other coaches. All recorded their parts while participating in the Regions Tradition Pro-Am.

“We asked and they answered in two seconds,” Hallman said. “There was no hesitation. We got them all on camera that day.”

(Courtesy of Regions Bank)

13 hours ago

Governor Ivey urges Alabamians not to panic-buy gas

Governor Kay Ivey on Tuesday spoke with the U.S. Department of Energy on a call regarding the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack, which has caused a shutdown of the pipeline operations.

The pipeline, which is the largest system for refined oil products in the United States, is 5,500 miles long and can carry 3 million barrels of fuel per day between Texas and New York. It is operated by Colonial Pipeline Company, which is headquartered in Georgia.

The pipeline runs through Alabama, as people may remember from a Shelby County leak in 2016 that caused gas shortages in the region. The county is home to the Colonial Pipeline Co. Pelham junction and tank farm.

However, Ivey wants to assure Alabamians that the temporary pipeline shutdown should be resolved in the coming days and that any potential gas shortages have not reached the Yellowhammer State.

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“Please do not fill up your car unless you need to and do not fill multiple containers. Overreacting creates more of a shortage. Please use common sense and patience!” Ivey said in a social media post.

The governor’s spokesperson reiterated Ivey’s message.

“She was assured that the pipeline should be operational in a few days,” said Gina Maiola. “She is urging Alabamians and others to not panic and to use good judgement. A shortage has not reached Alabama at this time, and she reminds us that an overreaction would only lead to that. Be courteous, only fill up if you need to, and do not fill up multiple containers. Governor Ivey urges patience and common sense.”

Public Service Commissioner Jeremy Oden echoed Ivey’s words.

“While the state of Alabama is fortunate to this point to not be suffering from gas shortages, there have still been reports of panic-buying and gas price increases,” he said in a statement. “I echo Governor Ivey’s request that Alabama residents refrain from panic-buying, which would only cause more anxiety in the market. As Colonial has stated publicly they are working vigorously to reestablish service.”

The Colonial Pipeline shutdown comes as the average price of gas in the U.S. has risen from $2.112 per gallon before President Joe Biden was elected to $2.985 per gallon this week.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

14 hours ago

Vocational center for construction, electric vehicle, aviation technology fields coming to DeKalb County

Governor Kay Ivey on Tuesday announced a $1 million grant to help the Fort Payne Board of Education construct a new vocational center aimed at training students in careers that include construction, electric vehicle and aviation technologies.

The funds come from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs administers the ARC program in Alabama.

The new DeKalb County vocation center will prepare Fort Payne high school students and adults for the future while helping to meet the needs of Alabama’s workforce in several career fields.

“Alabama is sounding the call for a skilled workforce and the Fort Payne Board of Education is responding to that demand,” Ivey said in a statement. “This program will ensure that students graduating from high school will be ready for rewarding and high-paying jobs, and that employers will be hiring a qualified workforce to move our state forward.”

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RELATED: Guest: Electric vehicles important for Alabama’s automotive industry

The new Building, Electric and Aviation Technology Center will provide students with a rigorous training program in a workplace environment to ready them for careers.

“The path to rewarding careers does not always go through colleges and universities,” ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell added. “I applaud the Fort Payne Board of Education for offering other options for students who have the same dreams for successful careers but choose a different path to get there.”

The project is supported by Sen. Steve Livingston (R-Scottsboro), who chairs the Alabama Space Authority and the legislature’s Aerospace and Defense Caucus.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

14 hours ago

Alabama State Senator Andrew Jones running for reelection

State Senator Andrew Jones (R-Centre) on Tuesday announced he will seek reelection to a second term in the 2022 election cycle.

As a freshman member of the legislature’s upper chamber, Jones currently serves as chair of the Children, Youth, and Human Services Committee.

“We’ve accomplished a lot in the last 2 ½ years,” he stated. “I ran for the State Senate because I had seen first-hand as a business owner and farmer how government impacts hardworking Alabamians. I have worked hard to be the people’s voice in the Alabama Senate and bring much-needed resources back to the people of Etowah, Cherokee, and DeKalb.”

Jones will kickoff his reelection campaign at respective events in Etowah and Cherokee Counties on May 25 and June 3.

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Senate President Pro Tem Greg Reed (R-Jasper) offered his support for Jones’ reelection bid.

“Senator Jones has quickly learned to navigate the ins and outs of the Alabama Senate. He is known by his colleagues as a capable and effective Senator who will do whatever it takes to fight for his district. Andrew is not afraid to take bold, decisive action to meet the challenges our state faces,” Reed said.

Senate Majority Leader Clay Scofield (R-Guntersville) echoed Reed’s comments.

“Andrew has been a key voice in our Republican caucus for conservatives policies to improve the lives of everyday Alabamians,” Scofield commented. “Senator Jones is a champion for his local folks, but at the same time he has also won the respect of his colleagues. He has the full support of our caucus in his reelection effort.”

Elected in 2018 in his first run for public office, Jones campaigned on economic development, infrastructure, education and protecting Alabama values. Progress has been made, he now says, on all of those fronts.

“During my campaign, I talked about three infrastructure projects in my district. The U.S. 411 expansion project between Etowah and Cherokee Counties is currently underway, which is a $43 million project. We also recently secured $2 million for the engineering design of the I-759 Eastern Connector, and we are working with local leaders on multiple applications for funding for the Southside Bridge project. Last year, that same application made it to the final round,” Jones advised.

The freshman senator also touted a $2.7 million investment at the Etowah County Little Canoe Creek Megasite through the Growing Alabama Tax Credit Program, an investment which was made possible through an amendment that Jones negotiated to prioritize megasite properties over 1000 acres. He has also supported broadband expansion, incentives for small businesses and workforce training efforts in the Senate, as well as education initiatives to expand pre-K, provide teacher raises, and recruit math and science teachers. Additionally, Jones has backed pro-life legislation, election security measures and Second Amendment protection bills.

In the Senate, Jones has also authored legislation to support the military, incentivize adoptions, promote small farm wineries and repeal the grocery tax, among various other causes. Locally, the Republican has led an effort to repeal occupational taxes in five Etowah County municipalities. In 2020, voters approved a local constitutional amendment sponsored by Jones to designate surplus prison food funds for law enforcement purposes, including school resource officers.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

15 hours ago

NFIB survey: Record number of employers have job openings

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) on Tuesday announced that its Small Business Optimism Index rose to 99.8 in April, an increase of 1.6 points from March. While this index has now increased 4.8 points this year, a record 44% of employers reported job openings that could not be filled in the latest month’s survey.

Additionally, 8% cited labor costs as their top business problem and 24% said that labor quality was their top business problem, unchanged from March as the top overall concern.

A net 31% (seasonally adjusted) reported raising compensation in April, while a net 20% plan to raise compensation in the next three months. Increased compensation is being passed on to customers through higher prices, per NFIB.

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This is backed up by the net percent of owners raising average selling prices increasing 10 points to a net 36% (seasonally adjusted), the highest reading since April 1981 when it was 43%. Price hikes were the most frequent in wholesale (62% higher, 3% lower) and retail (46% higher, 6% lower). Seasonally adjusted, a net 36% plan price hikes, the highest reading since July 2008.

“Small business owners are seeing a growth in sales but are stunted by not having enough workers,” stated NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg. “Finding qualified employees remains the biggest challenge for small businesses and is slowing economic growth. Owners are raising compensation, offering bonuses and benefits to attract the right employees.”

Alabama currently has the lowest unemployment rate in the Southeast and one of the lowest in the nation.

State-specific data is unavailable, but NFIB state director for Alabama Rosemary Elebash said, “Today in Alabama, there are more job postings than there are job applicants, but hopefully Governor Ivey’s decision to end federal pandemic-related unemployment benefits will encourage people to return to the workforce.”

RELATED: Aderholt, Palmer praise Ivey’s decision to opt-out of $300 federal unemployment supplemental

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn