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Biden admin education panel stacked with critical race theory-supporting activists, GOP senators say

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EXCLUSIVE: A group of Senate Republicans led by Sen. Bill Cassidy is pressing Education Secretary Miguel Cardona over a panel in his department they say is stacked with liberal activists who support issues like critical race theory and gun control.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, it became evident that facilitating the relationship between schools and parents is most successfully chartered at the local level,” the Cassidy, R-La., letter to Cardona said. “Therefore I welcome the stated purpose of this council; however, it is troubling that you seem to have forgotten to include any actual families or local officials on it.”

“Instead, the Department has filled the Council with organizations that have limited, if any engagement on the local level,” the letter continued. “Most, if not all, of these organizations are liberal advocacy groups that seek to nationalize our education systems into a one-size-fits-all system while eliminating parental choice and leaving the individual needs of our students behind.”

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The controversy over the committee, officially called the National Parents and Families Engagement Council, comes amid conservative discontent over how the Biden administration has handled parental involvement in schools. Last year, Cardona solicited a letter from the National School Boards Association that that compared protesting parents to domestic terrorists.

Cassidy is seeking to become the top Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee next year. He was joined on the letter to the Education Department head by Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., Mike Lee, R-Utah, Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Tim Scott, R-S.C.

Perhaps the most explicitly political group on the council is National Action Network, which is led by Democratic activist Al Sharpton. Biden spoke at that group’s national convention. 

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona stood up a panel on parent-family relations earlier this year.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona stood up a panel on parent-family relations earlier this year.
(REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein)

Another group, the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, expressed support for stricter gun control positions held by the liberal group Everytown for Gun Safety, as well as major teachers unions American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association. It also sued to keep Virginia’s mask mandate in schools, according to the Cassidy-led letter. 

The group League of United Latin American Citizens, meanwhile, is led by a former Democratic state representative in Texas. 

The National Parents Union, also a member of the council, meanwhile wrote a May 2021 op-ed in the Education Post defending critical race theory. 

“The National Parents Union believes that education systems must be transformed to eradicate generational institutions of oppression,” the op-ed said. “For this reason, we strongly oppose the political and social movement that seeks to eliminate critical race theory from public education.”

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., is seeking to become the top Republican on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., is seeking to become the top Republican on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
(Reuters)

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A lawsuit from the America First Legal Foundation against the council filed in July also alleges that 11 of the 14 groups on the council are made up of donors to President Biden and Democrats. Meanwhile, that lawsuit said, none of the leaders of those groups are donors to conservative groups or have publicly criticized the president’s policy on students. 

“For the sake of parents, teachers, and students across the nation, if this overtly partisan Council continues, it is not too late for the Department to invite parents and families to the discussion,” the Republican senators wrote. They said they hopped the department would take steps “to engage parents and families, or disband the council altogether.” 

The Republicans’ letter also says the group’s makeup may violate federal law which says such a panel should be “fairly balanced” regarding the views of its members. 

“While the Department once again ignores laws passed by Congress, the families it claims to want to engage are left behind,” the letter says.

Liberal activist Al Sharpton is on a council the Biden Education Department uses stood up on parent-school relations.

Liberal activist Al Sharpton is on a council the Biden Education Department uses stood up on parent-school relations.
(Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images)

Earlier this year, Cardona’s DOE hit back against criticism of the council in a court filing opposing the America First Legal Foundation’s lawsuit. It said, effectively, that the group is not official enough to fall under the law the Republicans say the group may break – the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). 

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“The Council does not meet the FACA criteria because it does not have an organized structure, make final group recommendations, have a fixed membership, or have a specific purpose,” the department said in a court filing. 

“The Department created the Council ‘to facilitate strong and effective relationships between schools and parents, families, and caregivers to help ensure that students are recovering from the pandemic and will thrive in the future,'” the filing added. “These are important public goals.”

In a separate document in that lawsuit, the Education Department said it denied the claim that the council’s membership is skewed to the left, but did not elaborate. It, however, said it didn’t have knowledge about specific allegations that the council members were biased to the left. 

The Education Department did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment on the letter Friday.

Source: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/biden-admin-education-panel-stacked-critical-race-theory-supporting-activists-gop-senators

Politics

Arizona Republicans elect former Trump official Jeff DeWit to become next party chair, will replace Kelli Ward

Republicans in Arizona appointed Jeff DeWit as the party’s next chairman Saturday. The selection comes as Republicans in the battleground state hope to unite under new leadership and win back statewide elections.

DeWit, a former Trump aide who worked on both of his presidential campaigns, will replace Kelli Ward, a Trump ally who has embraced and echoed his election denial claims. 

He won 70% of the votes over several other nominees, including Steve Daniels, who vowed to drastically change the state’s election system by requiring all votes to take place in person on one day, with ballots counted by hand.

“I’m going to work for you, and we’re going to unify,” DeWit said after his victory. “And we’re going to get back to beating Democrats and winning elections.”

DEMOCRATIC ARIZONA GOV. KATIE HOBBS DEFENDS DECISION TO KEEP BUSSING MIGRANTS OUT OF STATE

Arizona Secretary of the Treasury Jeff DeWit arrives at Trump Tower on November 13, 2016 in New York City. 

Arizona Secretary of the Treasury Jeff DeWit arrives at Trump Tower on November 13, 2016 in New York City. 
(Kevin Hagen/Getty Images)

DeWit was supported by Kari Lake, who lost the race for governor but became an influential voice in the party; Mark Finchem, a former candidate for secretary of state; retired Gen. Michael Flynn and others. 

Lake said DeWit also received a last-minute endorsement from Trump, but the former president did not post the endorsement on social media, which he regularly does.

AZ GOV. KATIE HOBBS CREATES COMMISSION TO STUDY STATE’S PRISON PROBLEMS

During Ward’s four-year tenure as party chair, Republicans lost three U.S. Senate races and elections for governor, secretary of state and attorney general. She has called for Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich to investigate newly elected Gov. Katie Hobbs for potential wrongdoing during her campaign. She has also faced criticism over the party’s spending.

Arizona Republican party chairwoman Kelli Ward speaks during a get out the vote campaign rally on November 07, 2022 in Prescott, Arizona. 

Arizona Republican party chairwoman Kelli Ward speaks during a get out the vote campaign rally on November 07, 2022 in Prescott, Arizona. 
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

DeWit was elected state treasurer in 2014 and resigned in 2018, just before his term ended as he was confirmed as chief financial officer of NASA under Trump. He led Trump’s Arizona campaign in 2016 and was chief operating officer of Trump’s 2020 campaign.

Arizona Democrats elected Yolanda Bejarano, a senior national official in the Communications Workers of America union, to be their party chair.

The selection was the first contested election for the Democratic chair in 12 years. 

Bejarano was backed by most of the state’s elected Democrats, but Hobbs supported Steve Gallardo, the only Democrat on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

U.S. Sen. Kyrtsen Sinema, D-AZ, speaks at a news conference after the Senate passed the Respect for Marriage Act at the Capitol Building on November 29, 2022 in Washington, DC. In a 61-36 vote, the measure would provide federal recognition and protection for same-sex and interracial marriages. 

U.S. Sen. Kyrtsen Sinema, D-AZ, speaks at a news conference after the Senate passed the Respect for Marriage Act at the Capitol Building on November 29, 2022 in Washington, DC. In a 61-36 vote, the measure would provide federal recognition and protection for same-sex and interracial marriages. 
(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Outgoing Democratic Chair Raquel Teran declined to run for another term. She is also looking to run for the U.S. House seat being vacated by Rep. Ruben Gallego, who’s running for the Senate. The seat is safely Democratic.

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The 2024 election includes several races with national implications including the presidential race and independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s seat. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Politics

Trump joins Biden, Obama in condemning ‘horrible’ beating of Tyre Nichols: ‘Never should have happened’

Former President Donald Trump joined the chorus of those responding to graphic footage from the bodycams of five Memphis police officers who repeatedly beat 29-year-old Tyre Nichols. The footage was released to the public Friday, Jan. 27.

“I thought it was terrible. He was in such trouble. He was just being pummeled. Now that should never have happened,” Trump said during an interview with The Associated Press Saturday.

The footage shows the officers punching, kicking, pepper spraying and tasing Nichols, a 29-year-old Black father and delivery driver, following a traffic stop on Jan. 7. 

He died three days later, on Jan. 10. The officers were charged with his murder.

TYRE NICHOLS’ LAST WORDS HEARD ON NEWLY RELEASED BODYCAM FOOTAGE: ‘I’M JUST TRYING TO GET HOME’

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event at the South Carolina Statehouse, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, in Columbia, S.C. 

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event at the South Carolina Statehouse, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, in Columbia, S.C. 
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Trump, who is running for the White House in 2024, said hearing Nichols repeatedly call out to his mother during the assault was particularly difficult. He said it was “a very sad moment.”

“That was really the point that got me the most, to be honest with you,” the former president said.

Trump said Memphis police were taking a “strong step” in disbanding the SCORPION police unit involved in the attack, which was created to target violent offenders in areas beset by high crime. SCORPION stands for Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods.

TENNESSEE SHERIFF OPENS NEW INVESTIGATION INTO TWO DEPUTIES AFTER TYRE NICHOLS BODYCAM VIDEO RELEASE

It has been “permanently” deactivated as a result of the Jan. 7 incident, Memphis officials announced.

Trump also called the video “pretty conclusive,” as the officers face murder charges.

He also suggested the traffic violation was not the officers’ motivation for the beating.

“Look, the tape was perhaps not totally conclusive but, to me, it was pretty conclusive and it was vicious and violent and hard to believe — over a traffic violation,” Trump said.

Warning: The contents of the below video are graphic in nature.

Trump previously discouraged violent protests that erupted across the country in the summer of 2020 following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which he also condemned.

“When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” Trump tweeted, sparking backlash. The tweet was also flagged by Twitter as glorifying violence.

REACTION SWIFT AFTER TYRE NICHOLS POLICE FOOTAGE RELEASED; ‘THESE MEN WERE STREET FIGHTING,’ FORMER COP SAYS

The former president defended his comments as attempting to discourage escalation, not a call to shoot those who are looting.

He later centered his 2020 reelection bid around “law and order” and supporting law enforcement.

Former President Donald Trump responded to graphic footage from the bodycam of Memphis police officers who beat Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black father who later died of his injuries. 

Former President Donald Trump responded to graphic footage from the bodycam of Memphis police officers who beat Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black father who later died of his injuries. 
(BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Trump, while in office, signed an executive order encouraging better police practices.

Former President Barack Obama also responded to the Tyre Nichols bodycam footage.

In a joint tweet, Barack and Michelle Obama said that Nichols’ death is a “painful reminder” for America.

“The vicious, unjustified beating of Tyre Nichols and his ultimate death at the hands of five Memphis police officers is just the latest, painful reminder of how far America still has to go in fixing how we police our streets,” the couple said.

President Joe Biden also addressed the video.

“My heart goes out to Tyre Nichols’ family and to Americans in Memphis and across the country who are grieving this tremendously painful loss. There are no words to describe the heartbreak and grief of losing a beloved child and young father,” he wrote in a statement Friday night.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Politics

Trump appears to take aim at potential 2024 GOP rivals, says he doesn’t have much ‘competition’

Former President Donald Trump took aim at his potential rivals for the Republican presidential nomination as he kicked off a new phase of this 2024 White House campaign with a stop in the state that first launched him towards the presidency.

Pointing to his 2020 renomination as the sitting president, Trump on Saturday recollected during a speech in the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state of New Hampshire that he didn’t have much competition. 

Then, as he looked to a potential 2024 GOP primary field that might eventually include rivals such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, and other well known Republicans, Trump asserted that “I don’t think we have competition this time either to be honest.”

The former president also pushed back against recent criticism from political pundits that the first months of his third White House campaign have been anything but impressive.

TRUMP STOPS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE, SOUTH CAROLINA, KICK OFF NEW PHASE FOR HIS 2024 CAMPAIGN

Former President Donald Trump gives the headline address at the New Hampshire GOP annual meeting, in Salem, New Hampshire on Jan. 28, 2023. Trump is joined by outgoing NHGOP chair Steve Stepanek (right), who is joining Trump's campaign as a senior adviser in New Hampshire

Former President Donald Trump gives the headline address at the New Hampshire GOP annual meeting, in Salem, New Hampshire on Jan. 28, 2023. Trump is joined by outgoing NHGOP chair Steve Stepanek (right), who is joining Trump’s campaign as a senior adviser in New Hampshire
(Fox News)

“They said he’s not campaigning… maybe he lost his step,” Trump said as he imitated his critics. 

The former president then stressed that “I’m more committed now than I ever was.”

Trump made his comments as he gave the headline address to hundreds of party leaders, elected officials and activists attending the New Hampshire GOP’s annual meeting. 

New Hampshire, which for a century has held the first primary in the race for the White House, was the scene of Trump’s first election victory in 2016, igniting him towards the GOP presidential nomination and eventually the White House. 

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Trump’s visit to New Hampshire — first reported by Fox News earlier this week — was his first stop of the day. He later headed for South Carolina, another crucial early voting state that holds the third contest in the GOP’s presidential nominating calendar, directly after New Hampshire.

The Saturday afternoon gathering South Carolina’s state capitol building — where he is expected to announce his leadership team in the Palmetto State with Sen. Lindsey Graham and Gov. Henry McMaster on hand — will be Trump’s first 2024 campaign event since announcing his candidacy in mid-November at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida.

Former President Donald Trump (left), after giving the headline address at the New Hampshire GOP annual meeting, in Salem, New Hampshire on Jan. 28, 2023. Trump is joined by outgoing NHGOP chair Steve Stepanek (center), who is joining Trump's campaign as a senior adviser in New Hampshire, and by RNC committee member Chris Ager (right), who is succeeding Stepanek as chair

Former President Donald Trump (left), after giving the headline address at the New Hampshire GOP annual meeting, in Salem, New Hampshire on Jan. 28, 2023. Trump is joined by outgoing NHGOP chair Steve Stepanek (center), who is joining Trump’s campaign as a senior adviser in New Hampshire, and by RNC committee member Chris Ager (right), who is succeeding Stepanek as chair
(Fox News)

As he builds his leadership teams in the early voting states, the former president announced that Steve Stepanek is “coming on board as the senior adviser for my New Hampshire campaign”  

Stepanek, a former state lawmaker and businessman who co-chaired Trump’s 2016 campaign in the Granite State, on Saturday finished up four years steering the state party committee.

The former president received a very warm welcome from the crowd in New Hampshire, as Trump supporters and allies have expanded their grip over the state party in recent years.

FIRST ON FOX: TRUMP STOPPING IN NEW HAMPSHIRE AHEAD OF SOUTH CAROLINA ON SATURDAY

“We’re starting right here as a candidate for president…. This is just the beginning of our agenda. I look forward to returning many times,” Trump touted.

And he predicted that “one year from now we will win the New Hampshire primary and the with the help of the good people of this state… we’ll take back the White House.” 

While Trump’s the only major Republican to date to launch a 2024 presidential campaign, and while he remains the most popular and influential politician in the GOP and the party’s most ferocious fundraiser when it comes to energizing the grassroots.

Former President Donald Trump announces his candidacy for president in 2024, at a campaign event at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. 

Former President Donald Trump announces his candidacy for president in 2024, at a campaign event at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. 
(Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

But political pundits from both the left and the right torched his campaign launch, and he’s been criticized by Democrats and some Republicans for controversial actions and comments he’s made during the past two months. Plus, in the wake of a lackluster performance by the GOP in the midterm elections — when the party underperformed in what may expected to be a red wave election — Trump has also been blamed for elevating polarizing Republican nominees who ended up losing in November. 

While he didn’t take sides in New Hampshire’s combustible GOP primaries in September, the MAGA-style candidates who won the U.S. Senate and both congressional nominations went down in flames in November’s general election.

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Two days before the former president’s arrival in the Granite State, a new public opinion poll by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center suggested that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida held a double-digit lead over Trump in a hypothetical 2024 GOP presidential nomination matchup in the first primary state.

DeSantis, whom pundits expect will declare his candidacy for president later this year but who has yet to say if he’ll launch a campaign, stood at 42% support in the survey of likely GOP presidential primary voters in New Hampshire, with Trump at 30%. The poll is energizing DeSantis supporters — including two outside political groups with no ties to governor, one national and one New Hampshire based — which are trying to convince the Florida governor to run for president. Both groups set up booths at the NHGOP meeting in Salem.

Until recently, Trump was the clear and overwhelming front-runner in the early 2024 GOP presidential nomination polls. But in a handful of national surveys released last month, Trump trailed DeSantis, whose standing with conservatives across the country has soared over the past three years. DeSantis was overwhelmingly re-elected in November for a second term leading Florida, a one-time battleground state that’s turned increasingly red the past two cycles.

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Trump allies and supporters highlight that public opinion polling has long undercounted the former president’s support, dating back to his first campaign for the White House in 2016.

And Trump, during his comments in New Hampshire, touted his poll position in numerous surveys, claiming that “we are so far ahead in the polls.”

The former president took aim at his successor in the White House, criticizing President Biden on multiple fronts, including the current president’s proposal to move New Hampshire down a notch in the Democratic Party’s nominating calendar, which has infuriated both Democrats and Republicans in the Granite State.

US President Joe Biden speaks has pushed to move New Hampshire's primary further back in the presidential nominating calendar.

US President Joe Biden speaks has pushed to move New Hampshire’s primary further back in the presidential nominating calendar.
(Mandel Ngan)

Republicans are not altering their nominating calendar, keeping New Hampshire second in their schedule after the Iowa caucuses.

“I make this solemn pledge — when I’m back in the White House I will ensure that New Hampshire remains the home of the first in the nation Republican primary for many, many years to come,” Trump highlighted.

Trump’s stops in New Hampshire and South Carolina appear to be a move to plant a flag as his campaign starts to move into a higher gear.

“It’s going to be the first of many trips,” Trump campaign senior adviser Chris LaCivita told Fox News. “It’s something we’ve been looking forward to do. The early bird gets the worm. It’s all about getting out, organizing, getting your people together, getting them motivated, getting them excited.”

LaCivita emphasized that “we’re starting early and starting aggressive and putting this organization together, I think bodes well for the future.”

While Trump was the first candidate to announce, the field for the GOP presidential nomination will likely soon grow. Some of the likely or potential contenders hail from the two states Trump was stopping in on Saturday. Former two-term South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who served as ambassador to the United Nations during the Trump administration and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina appear to moving towards launching possible campaigns. And in New Hampshire, Republican Gov. Chris Sununu is also mulling a bid.

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“New Hampshire is full of tire kickers. We love to put candidates through their paces and Donald Trump is no exception to that. He’s going to have to work just like any other candidate who wants to win New Hampshire. He’s certainly shown he can do that. He did that in 2016 pretty handily. And he has without question the best infrastructure of any candidate, so he’s well positioned,” veteran New Hampshire conservative activist Greg Moore told Fox News. 

But Moore, the longtime state director for Americans for Prosperity, emphasized that Trump is “still going to have to prove himself to New Hampshire voter just like every other candidate.”

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