As of Monday afternoon, Jocelyn Benson — Michigan’s Democratic secretary of state — was listed as a member of the board of directors for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a far-left smear factory currently struggling with a massive racism and sexism scandal. On Tuesday, Benson’s name and profile had disappeared from the website. Benson’s office insisted she had left the SPLC when she became secretary of state, but that answer does not hold up to scrutiny.
“Upon taking office as Michigan Secretary of State, Secretary Benson informed SPLC leadership that she would be stepping down from the board. Her responsibilities in Michigan are her priority and focus,” the office of Michigan’s Secretary of State told PJ Media on Twitter.
Upon taking office as Michigan Secretary of State, Secretary Benson informed SPLC leadership that she would be stepping down from the board. Her responsibilities in Michigan are her priority and focus.
— Michigan Department of State (@MichSoS) March 26, 2019
This response seems reasonable, but the SPLC’s biography on Benson already listed her as secretary of state.
“Jocelyn Benson is the 43rd secretary of state for the state of Michigan,” the SPLC bio read on Monday afternoon. “At age 35, Benson became the youngest women to lead a top 100 law school in U.S. history, serving as dean of Wayne State University Law School from 2012 to 2016.”
The bio also mentioned her founding the Military Spouses of Michigan and her induction in the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame. “She began her career as an intern and researcher in the SPLC’s Intelligence Project,” the bio concluded.
This biography proved revealing on many levels. First, the fact that the SPLC proudly labeled Benson the “secretary of state for the state of Michigan” suggests that Benson’s office was lying to PJ Media in saying that the secretary stepped down from her role at the SPLC upon taking office.
It stands to reason that if Benson had stepped down from the SPLC’s board, the nonprofit might have failed to remove her bio for a few months. This would be embarrassing, but nonprofits have been known for failing to update their websites. The fact that the bio cited Benson as the current secretary of state for Michigan gives the lie to this idea, however.
To clarify things, PJ Media asked the Secretary of State office whether or not it could provide an official resignation dated to Benson’s inauguration. The office has not yet provided such a document.
Benson has an impressive history, and she deserves praise from both sides of the aisle. However, her history at the SPLC revealed a clear bias. The SPLC’s Intelligence Project magazine spreads the far-left group’s ideology, often smearing Republicans, conservatives, and Christians for “hate.” Recent reports have slammed Vice President Mike Pence, Republicans in Congress including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in a “Hate Goes to Washington” report, and President Trump himself.
The SPLC routinely smears mainstream conservative and Christian groups as “hate groups,” listing them along with the Ku Klux Klan. The smear factory uses this partisan definition of “hate” to demonize dissent from the left’s increasingly radical intersectional orthodoxy.
Democrat officials in Michigan have effectively endorsed the “hate group” list. Last month, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) Executive Director Agustin Arbulu announced a new hate-crimes unit referencing the SPLC’s “hate group” list. To make their intentions absolutely clear, they announced their plan “to fight against hate crimes and the many hate groups … in our state.”
On February 28, the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC), a Judeo-Christian law firm, sued Nessel and Arbulu for attacking their First Amendment rights.
“It’s one thing for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is a private organization, to engage in political propaganda and political hyperbole,” Robert Muise, co-founder and senior counsel of AFLC, told PJ Media early this month. He said it’s a violation of the Constitution “when you have the attorney general who’s relying on that political propaganda to investigate and target us with the power of the state.”
“You now have the government giving its endorsement to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s nonsense — that now triggers our constitutional protections,” Muise insisted. “‘We’re going to keep files on you.’ It’s Orwellian. It’s Big Brother. It’s the thought police.”
Benson’s clear SPLC ties and Nessel’s new hate-crimes unit raise questions as to just how closely Michigan Democrats rely on the discredited far-left smear factory.
Two weeks ago, the SPLC fired its co-founder, Morris Dees, amid allegations of racism and sexism. Former employees have called for the firing of President Richard Cohen, who announced his own resignation this past Friday. The SPLC hired Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff, Tina Tchen, to perform an investigation of the organization’s workplace culture. Yes, the same Tina Tchen who supported Jussie Smollett’s hate hoax…
Given this scandal, it makes sense Jocelyn Benson would distance herself from the group this week. If so, why did she claim to have already resigned from the board? If she had indeed resigned before Tuesday, she might have asked the SPLC to remove her from the website. Even so, the bio gives the lie to her claim to have resigned upon taking office.
See the time-stamped list of the SPLC board of directors below.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.