While media cover ongoing controversy surrounding GOP front-runner Donald Trump's refusal to clearly disavow the Ku Klux Klan, the bigoted history of some of Republican hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz's prominent endorsers is receiving less scrutiny. Cruz is endorsed by both Tony Perkins, who has past ties to former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, and Gun Owners of America (GOA), an extremist group that gave money to a white supremacist organization. He is also often touted by conservative radio host Michael Berry, who has compared black teens to "jungle animals" among other racially charged comments.
Anti-Gay Hate Group Leader Tony Perkins Once Paid To Use David Duke's Mailing List
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins Endorsed Cruz For President. During a January 26 appearance on Fox News, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins called Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) "a constitutional conservative who will fight for faith, family and freedom" and said, "I trust Ted to fight to pull America out of the political and cultural tailspin that President Obama's policies have put us in." [Politico, 1/26/16]
Family Research Council Is Designated A "Hate Group" By SPLC Due To The Group's Extreme Anti-Gay Rhetoric. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Family Research Council's (FRC) "real specialty is defaming gays and lesbians" with false and offensive claims that "make the case that the LGBT community is a threat to American society." In 2010, SPLC designated FRC as an anti-gay "hate group" due to its propagation of known falsehoods about LGBT people. [Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed 3/1/16, 2/17/16]
Perkins Paid David Duke, Spoke Before Group That Called Blacks A "Retrograde Species Of Humanity." While working on a U.S. Senate campaign in 1996, Perkins paid well-known white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke $82,500 to use his mailing list. In 2001, Perkins spoke at a meeting of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a well-known white supremacist group:
In 1996, while managing the U.S. Senate campaign of Woody Jenkins against Mary Landrieu, Perkins paid $82,500 to use the mailing list of former Ku Klux Klan leader and state Rep. David Duke. The campaign was fined $3,000 for filing false disclosure forms in a bid to hide the payment to Duke. Perkins has stated he did not know about the mailing list's connection to Duke.
Perkins served as a state representative for eight years, starting in 1998. On May 17, 2001, he gave a speech to the Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), a white supremacist group that has described black people as a "retrograde species of humanity." Perkins who addressed the group while standing in front of a Confederate flag, claimed not to know the group's ideology at the time, even though it had been widely publicized in Louisiana and the nation. [Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed 3/1/16]
Gun Owners Of America Gave "Tens Of Thousands Of Dollars" To White Supremacist Group; GOA Leader Spoke At White Supremacist Rallies
GOA Endorsed Cruz For President. In a September 8 statement, Gun Owners of America (GOA) endorsed Cruz, citing the conspiracy theory that the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty will lead to required gun registration in the United States and praising the Texas senator's hard-line immigration stance by writing, "He has opposed efforts to reward millions of illegal aliens with citizenship and voting rights, given that the majority of them are anti-gunners who have ignored and flouted our laws." [Gun Owners of America, 9/8/15]
GOA Founder And Leader Larry Pratt Directed GOA To Donate Money To A White Supremacist Group. A 2014 Rolling Stone profile of Pratt said he directed GOA to donate "tens of thousands of dollars" to a white supremacist group:
But the NRA stopped short of supporting the Christian Identity lawyer Kirk Lyons, who was representing multiple victims of Waco. [Founder Larry] Pratt and the GOA had no such compunction and donated tens of thousands of dollars to Lyons's white supremacist organization CAUSE (short for the Aryan bastions of Canada, Australia, the United States, South Africa and Europe), "Not $50,000 -- but a lot of money for us," Pratt told Rolling Stone in 1995. [Rolling Stone, 7/14/14]
Pratt Was Forced To Leave Pat Buchanan's Presidential Campaign After Pratt's Past Ties To White Supremacists Were Revealed. Pratt, who was a co-chairman of Buchanan's 1996 presidential run, was forced out of the campaign after it was revealed that he had spoken at white supremacist gatherings:
Last week, Larry Pratt, a co-chairman of the Buchanan campaign, took a leave of absence after the disclosure that he had spoken at rallies held by leaders of the white supremacist and militia movements.
Mr. Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, said in an interview that he did not know the other speakers. He also said he did not harbor anti-Semitic or racist views, although his articles on gun ownership often appear in The Jubilee, a tabloid published in California by leaders of the Christian Identity movement, a white supremacist organization. [The New York Times, 2/18/96, via Media Matters]
Boston Globe: Participants At Rallies Included Individuals With Ties To The Ku Klux Klan And Aryan Nation. In a follow-up to The Times report, The Boston Globe discovered that Pratt had spoken before high-profile figures in the white supremacist movement:
Prominent participants at that meeting included Pete Peters, head of a group called Christian Identity, former Ku Klux Klan leader and Aryan Nation official Louis Bream and Aryan Nation founder Richard Butler. The Center for Public Integrity report also said Pratt attended a meeting in 1995 with militia leader Bo Gritz, at which racist and anti-Semitic material was available. [The Boston Globe, 2/17/96, via Media Matters]
Pratt "Seemed To Justify" The Oklahoma City Bombing In Speech Before Adherents To The Racist Christian Identity Movement. According to a 2014 Rolling Stone profile of Pratt, three days after Timothy McVeigh bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995, killing 168 people, Pratt suggested that the bombing may have been a justified response to the 1993 standoff between authorities and Branch Davidians in Waco, TX:
On the afternoon of the Oklahoma City bombing, Pratt was in Washington, D.C., demonstrating in front of FBI headquarters for its role in the Waco tragedy. Three days later, Pratt spoke before a gathering of 600 Christian Identity adherents and assorted radicals convened by Pete Peters at the Lodge of the Ozarks in Branson, Missouri. Pratt addressed the "Biblical Mandate to Arm" and seemed to justify McVeigh's act of terror, at the time the bloodiest in American history. According to an account by Michael Reynolds in Playboy, Pratt told the gathered, "The government behaves as a beast. It did in Waco, and we have somebody, whoever it might have been, whatever group it might have been, assuming they can't rely on the Lord to take vengeance." [Rolling Stone, 7/14/14]
Pratt Was A "Contributing Editor" To An Anti-Semitic Publication. Rolling Stone reported that Pratt was a "contributing editor" for a publication of United Sovereigns of America:
Those who do not share Pratt's politics appreciate his work, and appear willing to overlook his ties to extremists. Pratt's former role as a contributing editor at a publication of the anti-Semitic United Sovereigns of America hasn't even seemed to complicate his relationship with Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. "None of that strained GOA's relationship with JPFO," says L. Neil Smith, a Libertarian member and writer for JPFO. "I myself would also talk to white nationalists and neo-Nazi groups. I talk to liberal groups, but people don't accuse me of being liberal. I wash all that off at home. It's important to talk to anyone who will listen." [Rolling Stone, 7/14/14]
Conservative Radio Host Michael Berry Frequently Utilizes Racist Rhetoric, Including Calling Black Teenagers "Jungle Animals"
Racially Inflammatory Radio Host Michael Berry Is A Longtime Cruz Supporter. Cruz's candidacy is frequently touted by Berry, a Texas conservative radio show host whose show is listed 16th on Talkers Magazine's "Heavy Hundred" list of influential broadcasts. Cruz thanked Berry from the stage after winning the Texas Republican Senate primary in 2012, and Berry currently "stumps" for Cruz's candidacy. [ABC 13 Eyewitness News, 2/6/16; Media Matters, 2/16/16].
Berry: Black Teens Confronted By Police At McKinney, TX Pool Party Were "Jungle Animals." During a June 2015 controversy where many observers criticized police in McKinney, TX, for using excessive force when responding to a complaint at a pool party, Berry called the black teens "jungle animals":
Conservative radio host Michael Berry said Monday that the black teens who were confronted by police last week at a pool party in McKinney, Texas acted like "jungle animals."
Berry, host of the "The Michael Berry Show" on KTRH in Houston, made his comments while discussing the Friday pool party where a white police officer drew his gun on several black teens and slammed a 14-year-old girl in a bikini to the ground.
Berry, who is white, said the alleged confrontation made for great news and stirred "the black pastor" and members of the community.
"You've got a ready-made crowd of people who don't have day jobs that are ready to storm the streets and threaten the cops," Berry said. "Let me suggest that for the people who end up getting in fights with the cops: Shut your mouth!"
Berry commended police who rush into dangerous situations with "screaming" teens.
"Let me ask you, how many among you would put on a badge and a police uniform today?" Berry said. "How many of you would put on a badge, police uniform and be the first to respond -- by yourself -- to a crowd of teenagers, amped up -- watch 'em! Man, they're screaming! 'Get outta here! Who are you?! You don't know what you! You go! You get! Who are you?! You can't do that! No man, we gon' get you! You bet -- !' I mean you're talking about like jungle animals. I mean this is wild, crazy, out of control." [Talking Points Memo, 6/9/15]
Berry Defended KKK-Sponsored Billboard: "As Long As 1 Group Can Promote Their Race, EVERY Group Can. ... The NAACP Is The Black KKK" On January 2, 2015, Berry defended a billboard paid for by "a group formerly known as the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan." On Twitter, Berry wrote of the billboard promoting a racist radio program, "As long as 1 group can promote their race, EVERY group can. Nothing wrong with it. The NAACP is the black KKK":
As long as 1 group can promote their race, EVERY group can. Nothing wrong with it. The NAACP is the black KKK. http://t.co/UG5PAMOzsh
-- Michael Berry (@MichaelBerrySho) January 3, 2015
Berry: Black UCLA Law Students Are "Pack Animals" Who Need To "Get The F Over Themselves." On his February 27, 2014, show, Berry mentioned that black students at UCLA's law school had called on the school to improve diversity on campus, and then proceeded to call them "pack animals" and say black people should "get the F over themselves." [The Michael Berry Show, 2/27/14]
Berry: "What If The Election Of Barack Obama Prompted The Poorest, Most Violent Segment Of Blacks In America" To Violently Challenge Police? On the June 1, 2015 broadcast of his show, Berry discussed the protests in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody and hypothesized that the election of Barack Obama might have "prompted the poorest, most violent segment" of black Americans to challenge police authority. [The Michael Berry Show, 6/01/15]
Berry Has A Weekly Radio Segment Where He Mocks The Predominantly Black Victims Of Gun Violence In Chicago. Berry has a weekly segment on his show called the "butcher bill" where he makes fun of deceased or wounded victims of gun violence in Chicago. Commenting on Tyjuan Poindexter, a 14-year-old bystander who was shot in the head and killed, Berry said during a September 2015 broadcast, "Tyjuan Poindexter. Ha ha. Tyjuan Poindexter was standing outside with some friends when some people drove by and opened fire. Young Mister Poindexter was shot in the head and died at the scene. He won't have to live with that name anymore." [Media Matters, 9/30/15, Media Matters, 10/13/15, Media Matters, 2/16/16]