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Assault on conservative groups: 10 things you need to know about Southern Poverty Law Center

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The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) sparked a firestorm this week after it added several prominent parental rights groups to its annual “Hate and Extremism” report, including Parents Defending Education and Moms for Liberty, describing them as “hard-right” and “reactionary anti-student inclusion groups.”

According to the new SPLC report, schools “have been on the receiving end of ramped-up and coordinated hard-right attacks.”

 After being “spurred by the right-wing backlash to COVID-19 public safety measures,” parental rights groups appeared to have “grown into an anti-student inclusion movement that targets any inclusive curriculum that contains discussions of race, discrimination and LGBTQ identities,” according to the SPLC, which has tax-exempt status from the IRS.

“Like many other hard-right groups, these reactionary anti-student inclusion groups are constantly painting themselves as an oppressed class, while vilifying those discriminated against,” the SPLC added.

The SPLC itself has faced a long history of allegations of discrimination while it simultaneously purports to be a “catalyst for racial justice in the South and beyond.”

Huang and Moms for Liberty

The SPLC’s current president and CEO, Margaret Huang, on the left, and a Moms for Liberty member on the right. (Getty)


Despite its controversial past, the SPLC often partners with the federal government and is frequently cited as a reference by agencies at the state and federal levels. 

For instance, the SPLC began partnering with the FBI in 2007 for its “Cold Case Initiative” seeking to identify racially-motivated murders committed decades ago, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ), and SPLC research and data analyst Zachary Mahafza was recently enlisted as a panelist who helped shape the administration’s “Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights.”

1. The SPLC’s co-founder was driven from the organization and multiple other executives resigned following accusations of rampant internal racism and sexism

Founded in 1971, the Alabama-based SPLC gained prominence in the 1980s for winning several civil lawsuits on the behalf of Ku Klux Klan victims. However, with the exception of its co-founder Morris Dees, the SPLC’s entire legal staff resigned in protest in 1986 over a disagreement about the organization’s direction. They wanted to focus on civil rights while Dees wanted to continue targeting white supremacist groups like the KKK, reported in 2019.

In 1994, the Montgomery Advertiser published an eight-part series about the SPLC that went on to be a Pulitzer Prize finalist, examining the “litany of problems and questionable practices at the SPLC, including a deeply troubled history with its relatively few black employees, some of whom reported hearing the use of racial slurs by the organization’s staff and others who ‘likened the center to a plantation’” and “misleading donors with aggressive direct-mail tactics,” the publication’s former managing editor, Jim Tharpe, recounted in a 2019 op-ed for The Washington Post.

Tharpe’s editorial came soon after the SPLC fired Dees in March 2019 following accusations of unchecked internal racism and sexism. His ouster came after the SPLC faced two dozen employee complaints saying its workplace fostered an intolerable workplace environment, including mistreatment, sexual harassment and a lack of diversity based on race and gender.

SPLC co-founder Morris Dees

Morris Dees (Photo by David Buchan/Variety/Penske Media via Getty Images)

The New York Times reported at the time that several employees were subject to “racially callous remarks” and that some on staff were sidelined because of their skin color – ultimately affecting their pay and advancement within the organization.

“As a civil rights organization, the SPLC is committed to ensuring that the conduct of our staff reflects the mission of the organization and the values we hope to instill in the world,” SPLC’s then-president Richard Cohen said at the time. “When one of our own fails to meet those standards, no matter his or her role in the organization, we take it seriously and must take appropriate action.”

Cohen later stepped down from the organization amid the harassment and diversity allegations.

Amid the scandal, The New Yorker’s Bob Moser, who worked for the SPLC as a writer from 2001 to 2004, wrote a piece slamming the lack of diversity at the nonprofit. 

“But nothing was more uncomfortable than the racial dynamic that quickly became apparent: a fair number of what was then about a hundred employees were African-American, but almost all of them were administrative and support staff—‘the help,’ one of my black colleagues said pointedly,” Moser wrote at the time. “The ‘professional staff’—the lawyers, researchers, educators, public-relations officers, and fund-raisers—were almost exclusively white. Just two staffers, including me, were openly gay.”


2. SPLC union members protested the organization’s ‘inequitable’ policies last year

The 2019 scandal prompted SPLC staff to unionize that December in an effort to enact more equitable policies. In March 2022, the union organized an employee protest, claiming there was a racial disparity in the nonprofit’s return-to-work policy.

“Black women, many of whom have been working at this organization for decades in positions with little or no opportunities for advancement are four times more likely to be denied telework and/or remote work than white women and are seven times more likely to be denied telework options than white men at the Center,” the SPLC Union wrote in a news release about the protest held in Montgomery.

The union said the event aimed to “protest management’s forcing mostly Black women employees to return to the office while allowing the option of remote work for white and higher-paid employees.”

The SPLC’s current president and CEO, Margaret Huang, defended the organization’s policies in a statement, saying the SPLC had created a flexible work model that allowed staff in certain, eligible roles to work entirely remotely.

“We have nearly 400 employees and have identified only 9% of employees whose positions require them to be in the office, performing activities such as processing legal mail and donor contributions,” Huang said at the time. 

SPLC President Margaret Huang

Margaret Huang (Photo by Rob Latour/Variety/Penske Media via Getty Images)

3. A D.C. gunman said SPLC’s ‘hate map’ motivated his attack on the Family Research Council

Critics have long accused the SPLC of falsely slapping the “hate group” label on non-violent groups that hold traditional beliefs about hot-button issues such as gay marriage and abortion.

One of those conservative Christian groups, the Family Research Council (FRC), was targeted in August 2012 by a gunman who said he was driven by the SPLC’s “hate map.”

A man named Floyd Lee Corkins II showed up to the FRC building in Washington, D.C, with a 9 mm pistol, multiple ammunition clips and a box of extra rounds. 

Prosecutors said his mission was to “kill as many people as possible,” but one heroic building manager’s action was ​”the only thing that prevented Floyd Corkins, II from carrying out a mass shooting.”

The shooter opened fire, striking Leo Johnson, an office manager who successfully tackled him until police arrived, preventing the intended massacre. The shooter, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison on charges including terrorism, told the FBI that he found FRC on the SPLC’s “hate map.” 


“Southern Poverty Law lists, uh, anti-gay groups,” Corkins told the FBI, according to interrogation footage. “I found them online — did a little research, went to the website, stuff like that.”

More than 10 years after the attack and the FRC is still listed as an “anti-LGBTQ” hate group by the SPLC, while other organizations that have openly carried out attacks on organizations across the country have not been included on its website. Jane’s Revenge, for example, has taken responsibility for dozens of attacks against pro-life and pregnancy centers from coast to coast since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, but is not listed as a “hate group” on the SPLC website or even mentioned, according to a search of the site.  

4. The SPLC maintains vast amounts of cash in offshore entities

Despite being based in Alabama, the SPLC has for years held vast amounts of cash in offshore accounts, which has led to criticism of its finances. 

According to its most recent financial audit, the group reported $138 million in non-U.S. equity funds as of Oct. 31, 2022. The Washington Free Beacon previously reported its offshore money has included accounts in the Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands. 

The SPLC is a fundraising powerhouse and has pulled in substantial cash from the “hate” industry. The group reported $108 million in contributions and $723 million in total assets on its most recent tax forms. 

Amid the 2019 scandal that led to Dees’ firing, a former staffer came forward, claiming that the SPLC used its “hate group” accusation to exaggerate hate in a fundraising scheme to “bilk” donors. 

Morris Dees center)

Tony Harris, Morris Dees and Heidi Belrich. (Photo by David Buchan/Variety/Penske Media via Getty Images)

In 2000, nearly two decades before Dees’ firing, Harpers Magazine’s Ken Silverstein published a series characterizing the SPLC co-founder as a con man profiting off of white guilt, as most of SPLC donors were white, and accusing the organization of spending “most of its time – and money – on a relentless fund-raising campaign, peddling memberships in the church of tolerance with all the zeal of a circuit rider passing the collection plate.”

Gloria Browne, a lawyer who resigned from the SPLC in the early ‘90s, told The Montgomery Advertiser at the time that the organization was cashing in on “black pain and white guilt.”

5. The SPLC supports parents’ rights when it comes to gender-reassignment treatments and surgeries

Despite SPLC’s new decision to consider conservative parents’ rights groups “extreme,” it claims parental rights are at the heart of its fight for transgender kids to be able to access sex-change treatments and medical procedures.

In March, the SPLC Action Fund issued a statement condemning Georgia’s new law banning doctors from performing gender-reassignment surgeries or prescribing hormone replacements to Georgians under 18.

“Denying safe, effective medical treatment to transgender youth — based only on prejudice and political pandering — is inhumane,” the group said in March after the bill passed the state Senate. “The SPLC Action Fund urges Gov. Brian Kemp to leave personal healthcare decisions in the capable hands of parents, children, and their doctors by vetoing S.B. 140.”

Glendale protest

Protestors join crowds gathering outside a Glendale Unified School District meeting where parents and activists differ over teaching sexual identity to kids at Glendale Unified School District in Burbank Tuesday, June 6, 2023.  (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

6. The SPLC was ordered to pay $3.375 million after branding a reformed Islamist an ‘anti-Muslim extremist’

In 2018, the SPLC agreed to publicly apologize and pay $3.375 million in damages after branding British anti-extremism group Quilliam Foundation and its founder, Maajid Nawaz, “anti-Muslim” extremists. 

“We’ve found that Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam have made valuable and important contributions to public discourse, including by promoting pluralism and condemning both anti-Muslim bigotry and Islamist extremism,” Cohen, the then-SPLC president, said in his apology. “Although we may have our differences with some of the positions that Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam have taken, they are most certainly not anti-Muslim extremists.”

Richard Cohen

Southern Poverty Law Center President, Richard Cohen speaks during the Concert for America: Stand Up, Sing Out! at Town Hall on February 25, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage)

7. The SPLC was forced to apologize and retract a 3-part series painting liberal journalists as Russian pawns

In March 2018, the SPLC was forced to retract and apologize for an article that falsely asserted several reporters were enabling white supremacists and Russia while labeling them as fascists and racists.

The SPLC published the misleading article by Alexander Reid Ross headlined, “The multipolar spin: how fascists operationalize left-wing resentment.” The story attempted to frame progressive journalists as pawns being used by the alt-right and made dangerous accusations in an attempt to fit its narrative.

The convoluted 2,500-plus word article was removed the following day after journalist Max Blumenthal, who was named in the article, expressed concern that he was falsely portrayed as being part of a nefarious plot by Kremlin-backed white supremacists to advance a fascist agenda. Several of the named reporters were minorities well-known for activism on the antiwar and antiracism fronts.

The SPLC published a lengthy apology and retracted the story, as well as the two other stories in the three-part series.

8. The SPLC apologized after labeling Ben Carson an ‘extremist’

In May 2016, the SPLC apologized to Ben Carson after placing the then-potential Republican presidential candidate on its “Extremist Watch List” — which is mostly made up of hate groups and white supremacists — for allegedly being “anti-gay.”

“In October 2014, we posted an ‘Extremist File’ of Dr. Ben Carson,” SPLC wrote on its website. “This week, as we’ve come under intense criticism for doing so, we’ve reviewed our profile and have concluded that it did not meet our standards, so we have taken it down and apologize to Dr. Carson for having posted it.”

Dr. Ben Carson interview

Former HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson speaks with Fox News Digital at CPAC in Dallas on August 4, 2022. (Fox News Digital)

Among the reasons the SPLC gave for initially putting Carson on the list included a March 26, 2013, interview on Fox News’ “Hannity.”

In that interview, Carson said: “Marriage is between a man and a woman. It’s a well-established pillar of society and no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA [North American Man/Boy Love Association], be they people who believe in bestiality — it doesn’t matter what they are, they don’t get to change the definition.”

Though the SPLC apologized for putting Carson on the list, it maintained that Carson “made a number of statements that express views that we believe most people would conclude are extreme” and said “we believe that his views should be closely examined.”

9. The SPLC works with students and educators on far-left ‘justice’ initiatives

The SPLC, through its Learning for Justice program, works with students and educators to push its far-left mission.

Learning for Justice, previously called Teaching Tolerance, seeks to be a “catalyst for racial justice in the South and beyond, working in partnership with communities to dismantle white supremacy, strengthen intersectional movements and advance the human rights of all people,” according to its website. 

The project pushes its mission through four core areas: culture and climate, curriculum and instruction, leadership, and family and community engagement. Its educational resources include articles, guides, lessons, films, webinars and frameworks to “help foster shared learning and reflection for educators, young people, caregivers and all community members.”

The project is currently taking action “to support LGBTQ+ youth in increasingly hostile school environments and in our communities,” its website states. 

10. An SPLC attorney was arrested on domestic terrorism charges during the ‘Cop City’ attack

A Georgia-based SPLC staff attorney, Tom Jurgens, was arrested following the Georgia “Cop City” terror attack earlier this year.

Jurgens was one of nearly two dozen radical activists arrested for domestic terrorism after a protest of the proposed 85-acre Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, labeled by opponents as “Cop City,” turned into a violent assault on law enforcement. The individuals arrested conducted a coordinated attack on construction equipment and police officers at the site east of Atlanta, using large rocks, bricks, Molotov cocktails and fireworks. 

Atlanta police arrest

Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) lawyer Thomas Jurgens was arrested in Atlanta and charged with domestic terrorism.  (Atlanta Police Department )

The SPLC rushed to the defense of Jurgens and the domestic terror suspects by shifting the blame to the police.

“This is part of a months-long escalation of policing tactics against protesters and observers who oppose the destruction of the Weelaunee Forest to build a police training facility,” the SPLC said in a statement. 


“The SPLC has and will continue to urge de-escalation of violence and police use of force against Black, Brown and Indigenous communities — working in partnership with these communities to dismantle white supremacy, strengthen intersectional movements and advance the human rights of all people.”

The SPLC did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

Fox News’ Brian Flood and Emma Colton, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.



New York Gov Hochul wants to ‘limit’ who crosses border, says it’s ‘too open right now’

Democrat New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Sunday called on Congress to “limit” who crosses the border, saying it’s “too open right now.”

Ironically repeating what congressional Republicans have long demanded from the Biden administration, Hochul made the plea during an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

CBS host Margaret Brennan noted there were no border provisions in the federal spending deal struck by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy this weekend to avoid a government shutdown, asking Hochul what she would want Congress to get done in the next 45 days.

“Well, shame on Speaker McCarthy and the Republicans in Congress, including the nine from New York State, who are complaining like crazy about the migrants but refuse to work with President Biden and come up with a sensible border strategy. It can be done. This can be done in a bipartisan way. Comprehensive immigration reform,” Hochul began before Brennan interjected by asking what she was specifically wanting from Congress to address the migrant crisis in her state.


Kathy Hochul press conference

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul demands “comprehensive immigration reform.” (Lev Radin / Pacific Press / LightRocket via Getty Images / File)

“Well, we want them to have a limit on who can come across the border. It is too open right now,” Hochul said. “People coming from all over the world are finding their way through simply saying they need asylum. And the majority of them seem to be ending up in the streets of New York. And that is a real problem for New York City, 125,000 newly arrived individuals. And we are being taxed.”

“We are always so proud of the fact that New York has the Statue of Liberty in our harbor. We are one of the most diverse places on Earth because of our welcoming nature, and it’s in our DNA to welcome immigrants. But there has to be some limits in place. And Congress has to put more controls at the border and not in this budget threat, shutdown threat, talk about eliminating positions for Border Patrol when we actually need to double or quadruple those numbers. So, get back to work and do your jobs,” the governor added.

National Guard troops address migrant crisis

A migrant shows his documents to Army servicemen at the entrance to the Roosevelt Hotel, converted into a city-run shelter for newly arrived migrant families, in New York City on Sept. 27, 2023. (Selcuk Acar / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)


Several critics online unleashed on Hochul for apparently changing her tune since espousing New York as a sanctuary state and encouraging people to come in 2021.

More than 125,000 migrants have since arrived in New York City since last year, and Hochul recently secured a deal with the Biden administration to expedite work authorizations and delayed deportations for Venezuelans seeking asylum. Hochul activated an additional 150 National Guard members last week to address the migrant crisis and help with case management to get asylum seekers work permit. The move increased the total number of National Guard troops dedicated to the mission to 2,200.

NYC migrant lines

Migrants line up in front of the Roosevelt Hotel, converted into a city-run shelter for newly arrived migrant families, in New York City, on Sept. 27, 2023. (Selcuk Acar / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)


Yet New York City Mayor Eric Adams, whose relationship has soured with fellow Democrat Biden by repeatedly demanding more federal assistance on the migrant crisis over the past several months, has said the more new waves of arriving migrants are from African nations, China and even Russia, indicating a potential growing security risk compared to the initial influxes from Latin America. Adams is pushing a controversial “decompression strategy” to resettle migrants outside the city.

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Gaetz slammed for bailing out Dems in budget battle, giving them potential leverage in ousting speaker

A bid by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., to remove House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has earned scorn from some fellow Republicans, who fear the Florida lawmaker is handing leverage to Democrats in the continuing battle over the budget.

“The only way he can be successful is if he has 200 plus Democrats,” Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo., said during an appearance on “Sunday Morning Futures” with host Maria Bartiromo. “Basically, Gaetz is going to work with Nancy Pelosi, Hakeem Jeffries, and the rest of the Democrats in order to remove the Republican speaker… If you remove a Republican speaker, that then puts the Democrats in power, these investigations will be done and stalled. That is unacceptable of Matt Gaetz.”

Smith’s comments come after the House passed a continuing resolution Saturday that will fund the government at current levels through mid-November, angering some Republicans who believe the measure is a violation of GOP promises to pass 12 individual spending bills that prioritize conservative polices.


Gaetz and AOC split image

Rep. Matt Gaetz and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images | Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

One such Republican was Gaetz, who opposed the resolution and threatened to trigger a House-wide vote on whether to remove McCarthy from the speakership.

Under the terms of a deal McCarthy struck with conservatives during the vote that elevated him to speaker, any lawmaker is allowed to trigger a vote, known as a motion to vacate, and attempt to remove him from the speakership.

“The one thing everyone seems to have in common is no one trusts Kevin McCarthy,” Gaetz told reporters Saturday. “I’ve said that whether or not Kevin McCarthy faces a motion to vacate is entirely within his control, because all he had to do was comply with the agreement that he made with us in January.”

Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., called Gaetz’s comment on removing McCarthy a “diatribe of delusional thinking” during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday, noting that the government is currently divided and any bill the House hopes to pass will have to gain support from both the Senate and President Biden.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)


“When you’re trying to break the system, when you’re trying to reform it, it takes time,” Lawler said. “The only responsible thing to do was to keep the government open and funded while we complete our work.”

While Lawler acknowledged that he shares the Florida lawmaker’s concerns about current spending levels, he argued that putting a motion to vacate on the House floor would “delay the ability to complete” GOP efforts to pass a more conservative budget “over the next 45 days.”

Sen. MarkWayne Mullin, R-Okla., tore into Gaetz during a Sunday interview on “FOX & Friends Weekend,” saying the only thing he cares about is “self-promotion.”

“Well, Matt Gaetz is not a principle guy. He’s not a policy guy. He’s about self-promotion. It’s all about Matt Gaetz. And he’s accusing Speaker McCarthy of working with the Democrats, which the irony of this is the only way he can possibly remove Speaker McCarthy is that he has to work with the Democrats,” Mullin said. “And Speaker McCarthy will have 200 votes all day long and probably more from the Republicans. So that means the most he’s going to get is 20. So he’s going to have to work with 198 Democrats to remove the House Republican speaker.”

“Matt Gaetz is all about himself,” Mullin continued. “Remember, none of the networks would give him the time of the day after he was accused of sleeping with the underage girl and now all of a sudden he’s found his fame because he opposes Speaker McCarthy and he’s going to ride this horse as long as he can.”

Rep. Gaetz has repeatedly denied this allegation and the Justice Department “confirmed to Congressman Gaetz’s attorneys that their investigation has concluded and that he will not be charged with any crimes,” according to a statement previously given to Fox News Digital.

Rep Gaetz and Sen Mullin

Sen. MarkWayne Mullin, right, blasted Rep. Gaetz during a Sunday morning interview, saying the only thing he cares about is “self-promotion.” (Tom Williams/Al Drago)

Former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to ask whether Gaetz is “secretly an agent for the Democratic Party.” 

“No one else is doing as much to undermine, weaken and cripple the House GOP,” he added.

Rep. Greg Landsman, D-Ohio came to the defense of the center right Republicans arguing that Gaetz was only attempting to make himself “the center of attention.”

“Every time we all work together, he loses his mind. He doesn’t want the center left and center right to work together because he has to be the center of attention,” Landsman said in a statement posted to X. “When we do, he creates chaos to grab attention back. Matt Gaetz has no interest in governing. This is all about TV appearances for him. If he says it’s for any other reason, he’s lying. Just let us govern, which is what most of us came here to do.”


Some Democrats struck a celebratory tone after the continuing resolution cleared the House Saturday, with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., taking to X to boast the party had “stripped” GOP efforts to make cuts to Social Security.

“We just won a clean 45 day gov extension, stripped GOP’s earlier 30% cuts to Social Security admin etc, staved off last minute anti-immigrant hijinks, and averted shutdown (for now),” Ocasio-Cortez said. “People will get paychecks and MTG (Marjorie Taylor Greene) threw a tantrum on the way out. Win-win.”


Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Tom Williams/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, McCarthy downplayed fears while speaking to reporters Saturday.

“I never fear of that. But if I lose my job over looking out for the American public, for taking a stand for our troops and our border agents, then I’m not quite sure what people want. Because this allows us the time to get the job done,” McCarthy said. “If somebody wants to remove me from putting Americans first, then so be it.”

During an interview on ‘Face the Nation” Sunday, McCarthy said he will “survive” and Gaetz is “more interested in securing TV interviews.”

“Let’s get over with it. Let’s start governing. If he’s upset because he tried to push us into a shutdown and I made sure government didn’t shut down, then let’s have that talk,” McCarthy said.


For his part, Gaetz argued in comments to reporters Saturday that he was not focused on removing McCarthy, instead saying he will continue efforts to pass conservative budget bills.

“Right now, my focus is not on the motion to vacate. My focus is on averting a shutdown by passing these bills,” Gaetz said. “And if we do have a shutdown, which may be the case, I certainly want it to be as short and painless as possible.”

The offices of Gaetz and McCarthy did not immediately respond to a Fox News Digital request for comment.

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Rep. Bowman shocks media, conservatives with ‘garbage’ statement after pulling fire alarm

Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., stunned conservatives and members of the media on Sunday after releasing multiple statements about pulling the fire alarm in a congressional office building. 

Bowman pulled the alarm on Saturday while lawmakers were voting on a bill to avoid a government shutdown. Bowman said in a statement that he was rushing to cast his vote on the bill. 

Bowman’s chief of staff, Sarah Iddrissu, said that Bowman “didn’t realize” he would trigger an alarm. 

“Congressman Bowman did not realize he would trigger a building alarm as he was rushing to make an urgent vote,” Iddrissu wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “The Congressman regrets any confusion.”

Rep. Jamaal Bowman

U.S. Representative Jamaal Bowman speaks at Grammys On The Hill: Advocacy Day on April 27, 2023, in Washington, D.C.  ((Photo by Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for The Recording Academy))


Bowman posted another statement to X Saturday evening and again said he believed it would have opened the door.

“I want to personally clear up confusion surrounding today’s events. Today as I was rushing to make a vote, I came to a door that is usually open for votes, but today would not be open. I am embarrassed to admit that I activated the fire alarm, mistakenly thinking it would open the door,” Bowman said, apologizing for any confusion. 

He said that he did not intend to delay the vote, insisting it was the exact opposite. 

Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., said the statement put out by Bowman’s chief of staff was “complete garbage.”

“He did not realize deliberately pulling a fire alarm would … trigger a fire alarm. This statement is complete garbage,” he wrote.

Another Republican member of congress said the statement was “proof” of how far Democrats were willing to go in order to force a shutdown, while others doubted the excuse Bowman gave. 


Real Clear Politics’ Mark Hemingway said the statement was a “blatant lie” and deserved to be treated as such.

Other commentators described it as the “worst statement ever” and questioned how Bowman could claim to have set the alarm off by “mistake.”

Florida GOP chair Christian Ziegler, the chair of Florida’s GOP, noted Bowman was a school principal and argued that his staff was lying. 

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., also attempted to explain the incident on Sunday during an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, who said Bowman’s explanation made no sense. 

Bowman pulling fire alarm

Bowman appeared to pull the alarm on Saturday as Republicans began voting on the stopgap bill to avert a government shutdown. (U.S. Capitol Police)


“I think there’s something to be said that the government’s about to shut down, there’s a vote clock that’s going down, the exits that are normally open in that building were suddenly closed…” Ocasio-Cortez began to explain.

Tapper interjected and asked, “So he pulled the fire alarm?”

Ocasio-Cortez went on to suggest it was just a misunderstanding and said Bowman was cooperating with Capitol police. 


Fox News’ Stephen Sorace contributed to this report.

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