Our VoiceImmigration

Romney Accepts Endorsement from Lawyer Tied to White Nationalists

Cloee Cooper • Jan 11, 2012

“I am pleased to stand with this true conservative” said Kris Kobach of GOP nominee Mitt Romney, who he endorsed Wednesday. But would a “true conservative” accept an endorsement from someone with Kobach’s connections? A closer examination of Kobach reveals some disturbing ties that stray far from the ideals that Romney claims to uphold.

Kobach is employed by the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). IRLI was founded as a project of FAIR by white nationalist John Tanton; to this day, both of these organizations are legally connected according to tax documents, and FAIR president Dan Stein serves as the president of IRLI. For years, FAIR has been listed as a hate group by the civil rights organization Southern Poverty Law Center. One major reason for this is the fact that FAIR solicited and received over $1.2 million dollars from the Pioneer Fund, foundation that has a history of promoting the genetic superiority of white, European-Americans. Another reason for the hate group tag is the ideology of the group’s founder, John Tanton.

Tanton is a conservationist who spent the years before founding FAIR working at the environmental organization Sierra Club, holding both national positions and local ones in his home state of Michigan. Tanton was also heavily involved in Planned Parenthood, serving as an organizer and president of the group in Northern Michigan from 1965-1971. He also served as chair of the Great Lakes Public Affairs Committee of Planned Parenthood from 1970-71.

After years of attempting to get environmentalists to tackle immigration, Tanton decided to found his own group to specifically address this issue. To form his organization, Tanton reached out to his conservationist friends, many of whom were also involved with population control efforts as well as Planned Parenthood (PP). Tanton, Sherry Barnes and Sidney Swensrud, three of the five original board members of FAIR, all held positions at PP. Tanton and Swensrud no longer remain on the board, but another the longtime FAIR board member, Sarah Epstein, retains her position. Eptsein, for her part, serves on the board of Planned Parenthood in Metropolitan Washington and that of Pathfinder International–an organization founded by her father, the eugenics financier Clarence Gamble.

As FAIR grew, Tanton began founding and funding more groups which now make up his Network, of which Kobach and IRLI are an integral part. And though they would deny it, the members of this Network haven’t strayed far from Tanton’s words:

“Do we leave it to individuals to decide that they are the intelligent ones who should have more kids? And more troublesome, what about the less intelligent, who logically should have less? Who is going to break the bad news [to less intelligent individuals], and how will it be implemented?”

The current GOP front-runner should have thought twice before accepting such a tainted endorsement. Romney stated in his press release that he was “proud” to earn the “conservative leaders” backing, but Kobach and his organization IRLI are deeply tied to a brand of white nationalism that has promoted controversial means to stabilize the population.  Clearly Kobach is not grounded in the principals of conservatism that Romney preaches today.


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