1 month 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.

1 hour ago

Crimson Tide star helps spearhead effort to save college football season

University of Alabama running back Najee Harris is a leader in the #WeWantToPlay movement to save the 2020 college football season.

On Monday, the Big 10 canceled its fall football season, according to reports, and the Pac-12 is expected to follow their lead.

That leaves the SEC, ACC and Big 12 as the remaining Power 5 conferences yet to make a decision on playing their fall schedules.

While some of the national (and in-state) sports media world continues to cheer the death of the season, key players from Power 5 schools on Sunday jumped on a conference call to try and rescue the situation.

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ESPN reported that the Crimson Tide’s Harris was one of the players on the call, along with the likes of Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

During that call, the players came up with a list of key takeaways to share with the college football universe. That list has been turned into a graphic and shared widely on social media by players since the call.

Former Bama quarterback Greg McElroy reacted to the players’ efforts in a tweet on Monday.

“All weekend, it felt like the 2020 College Football Season was doomed,” he said. “But, the #WeWanttoPlay movement has given it new life. Ultimately, I don’t know if it will make a difference, but it feels like the players are the only people that can make a season happen.”

Kristen Saban Setas, daughter of head coach Nick Saban, also advocated for the season to occur in a tweet of her own.

If the SEC ultimately forges ahead with a season (with or without the ACC and Big 12), there could also be the question of further conference alignment changes — at least for this fall.

One Ohio State player has suggested the Buckeyes bail on the Big 10 and play in the SEC this year, and Notre Dame has already signed up with the ACC in an effort to preserve their season.

Even more movement is expected this week in the college football world, with the SEC, ACC and Big 12 each set to hold regularly scheduled meetings of their directors of athletics.

Reports on Monday morning said that Texas and Oklahoma are the Big 12 schools trying to save their fall season, however the SEC could be looking to scoop up those schools if the Big 12 as a whole decides not to play this year.

Right now, the SEC has adopted a conference-only, 10-game schedule for this season.

Alabama is scheduled to play homes games versus Auburn, Georgia, Mississippi State, Kentucky and Texas A&M, along with contests at Arkansas, LSU, Ole Miss, Missouri and Tennessee.

Auburn has home games against Arkansas, Kentucky, LSU, Tennessee and Texas A&M, as well as games at Alabama, Georgia, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and South Carolina.

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

2 hours ago

Alabama pre-apprenticeship program launched to create better pathways to workforce

The Alabama Office of Apprenticeship (AOA) announced Monday a new program for those seeking to develop marketable skills and enter the workforce quickly.

The pre-apprenticeship initiative will use “a combination of curriculum, on-the-job training and simulated work experiences” in order to “allow a person to gain access to a specific industry and improve existing skills,” according to a release from AlabamaWorks.

Individuals applying for the pre-apprenticeship must include a signed memorandum of agreement with a registered apprenticeship program for the application to be considered by the AOA.

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The application instructions available on the agency’s website indicate that those applying for a pre-apprenticeship have an amount of flexibility in constructing the experience they will undergo as part of the pre-apprenticeship.

AlabamaWorks says that pre-apprenticeship programs also help employers, because they provide “pre-screened, ready-to-work employees who have already begun their training.”

“A major focus of the AOA right now is to help employers think beyond these uncertain times and use this moment as an opportunity to invest in their own future success,” Josh Laney, director of AOA remarked in a statement.

“Ultimately our economy will rebound and the companies who are investing in training programs now will be the ones poised to capitalize when it does,” he continued.

Laney concluded, “Apprenticeships are also going to serve as critical vehicles for people to access the training they need to become re-employed in higher skilled and more durable occupations.”

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

3 hours ago

Alabama GOP legislative leaders request fourth presidential debate in Yellowhammer State

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth (R-AL), State Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper) and State House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) have requested that an additional presidential debate be scheduled ahead of November’s general election.

The Republican legislative leaders jointly sent a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates asking for a fourth debate on top of the three previously scheduled by the commission.

Currently, presidential debates are set for September 29 in Cleveland, OH; October 15 in Miami, FL; and October 22 in Nashville, TN. The election will be held on November 3, featuring President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden — the presumptive Republican and Democratic nominees, respectively.

Ainsworth, Reed and Ledbetter began their letter, “In order to continue preserving fairness and transparency in this year’s presidential election, we are writing today to request that an additional, earlier debate be held in our home state of Alabama, this September.”

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“As you are aware, presidential debates are a critical part of the electoral process,” they advised. “Unlike television ads or pre-written speeches, debates give Americans a firsthand look at each candidate’s own policies and intellect in an unscripted setting. They allow voters to hear the candidates’ platforms firsthand and give candidates the opportunity to respond to the tough questions at the forefront of every voter’s mind.”

The three Alabama officials explained that the current debate schedule begins too late, considering Alabamians will have already begun casting absentee ballots before the first presidential debate. More voters are expected to choose the absentee route this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Secretary of State John Merrill has extended absentee voting because of the ongoing pandemic to ensure all eligible voters are able to exercise their rights.

“This monumental election will determine the very future of our nation. The least we can do is equip voters with the facts necessary to aid them in electing the next President of the United States,” Ainsworth, Reed and Ledbetter concluded.

Read the full letter here.

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

3 hours ago

This back-to-school season, families should decide

Parents and other observers have many understandable questions about how their local school districts are responding to the challenges presented by COVID-19.

At this juncture, I don’t think it’s helpful to lay much blame on anyone. There will be plenty of time for that in the future, and when the dust settles, we’re likely to find that there is real blame to go around from the state board of education all the way down to your kid’s geometry teacher. It is probably true that some number of educators and administrators did not make proper use of the time they had in late spring and early summer to adequately plan for the fall, but let’s remember two things.

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First, events are constantly changing. We’re all dealing with a virus that no doctor had encountered 12 months ago, and both the spread and the effects of the virus are novel. Volatile case numbers mean that some plans for schooling must be altered or scrapped altogether. Now is simply not the time for those discussions. The goal for everyone who works not only in education, but in state and local government at large, should be to get children back to school as safely as possible. Given the summer spike in Alabama’s COVID caseload, that goal is proving elusive.

Public education in Alabama is noted for its many different school districts – county and city, both large and small. Our state is varied in its approach and it’s reasonable that the state board did not attempt to mandate how each and every district conducts itself. Areas with a very low caseload are prepping for a return to class, while some districts with high rates are choosing to remain virtual.

State Superintendent Eric Mackey suggested as many as half of the state’s students could begin the year with virtual-only education. Some districts such as my own suburban district are offering both in-person and virtual instruction; parents make the choice that’s best for their family and commit to it for the duration of the fall semester. The degree of variation and experimentation is confusing at first, but there is some hope that these varied approaches will produce helpful innovations in the way we educate our state’s children.

There is just one problem. Families are still bound to the decisions made by their local district. My own district is offering both in-person and virtual instruction, but parents had just six days to make an important decision that will stand for the entire fall semester. My family made a decision that works for us, and we hope circumstances uphold our judgment. What about families that simply cannot work within the parameters provided by their local district? If a family cannot meet these expectations without compromising either the education of their children or the financial stability of their family – then what?

We are likely to find that creative parents and concerned community members come up with various means of supplementing their children’s education if their district is all virtual, or if the pandemic shuts down in-person instruction. Anecdotal evidence from other parts of the country already suggests that parents are going to develop something that resembles the subject-based co-ops already utilized by many homeschooled children. It’s not hard to imagine something similar happening in Alabama if school-based instruction begins to falter, even if through no fault of the school district.

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed many things about our world, one of which is that we cannot ask our public institutions to do everything, because those institutions have their own limitations.

The ultimate decisions about a child’s education must be made within the family, by parents and other caregivers. When the local school falters, even through no fault of its own, we cannot deny parents the ability to make the best decisions on behalf of their children. In the midst of this pandemic, that may look like many things; it may be a move towards other home-based resources besides that which are provided by public schools. It may mean a move towards voluntary pods or co-ops with other families, and yes, it could mean a move towards a private school that, due to its flexibility as a smaller institution, is able to continue to meet in person.

Alabamians generally value and appreciate the public schools that serve as meaningful institutions in their communities. I mean instead to protect the freedom of families to make their own decisions. The state can best do that by allowing some of their children’s education funding to follow them in the form of education savings accounts. ESAs allow some funding to be reserved for specified education expenses, which alleviates some of the financial burdens that come with choosing to educate outside the bounds of the traditional public systems. Parents must not be constrained by finances into a bad situation; the goal of state policy should instead be to liberate parents to make the choices they deem best.

The end result of those choices may look different, but we will find in time that parents begin to create new forms of civil society that strengthen their children, their communities, and their state.

Matthew Stokes, a widely published opinion writer and instructor in the core texts program at Samford University, is a Resident Fellow of the Alabama Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit educational organization based in Birmingham; learn more at alabamapolicy.org.

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The two-day virtual summit is open to all Alabamians and will provide tangible takeaways and practical advice on doing business in the current climate.

Speakers include Governor Kay Ivey and the state’s leading subject matter experts on topics such as diversity in the workplace, employee resources, small business development and optimizing Alabama’s transportation and broadband infrastructure.

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