The Washington Post reports: The crowd rose to its feet and roared its approval as Sen. Jeff Sessions bounded onto the stage at the Breakers, an exclusive resort in Palm Beach, Fla. Stephen Miller, an aide to the Alabama Republican, handed him a glass trophy honoring his bravery as a lawmaker.
“Heyyyy!” Sessions yelled out to the crowd.
The ceremony that day, in November 2014, turned out to be a harbinger: It brought together an array of hard-right activists and a little-known charity whose ideas would soon move from the fringes of the conservative movement into the heart of the nation’s government.
The man behind the event was David Horowitz, a former ’60s radical who became an intellectual godfather to the far right through his writings and his work at a charity, the David Horowitz Freedom Center. Since its formation in 1988, the Freedom Center has helped cultivate a generation of political warriors seeking to upend the Washington establishment. These warriors include some of the most powerful and influential figures in the Trump administration: Attorney General Sessions, senior policy adviser Miller and White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon.
Long before Trump promised to build a wall, ban Muslims and abandon the Paris climate accord, Horowitz used his tax-exempt group to rail against illegal immigrants, the spread of Islam and global warming. Center officials described Hillary Clinton as evil, President Barack Obama as a secret communist and the Democratic Party as a front for enemies of the United States.
The Freedom Center has declared itself a “School for Political Warfare,” and it is part of a loose nationwide network of like-minded charities linked together by ideology, personalities, conservative funders and websites, including the for-profit Breitbart News.
Horowitz’s story shows how charities have become essential to modern political campaigns, amid lax enforcement of the federal limits on their involvement in politics, while taking advantage of millions of dollars in what amount to taxpayer subsidies. [Continue reading…]