Doug Wardlow is running to be Minnesota’s first Republican attorney general in nearly 50 years.
Wardlow is a professional attorney who graduated with high honors from Georgetown Law. He has represented local and national businesses as a commercial litigator, and fought China’s anticompetitive trade practices in work under an attorney who is now the Trump administration’s U.S. Trade Representative. He has also litigated extensively for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a legal organization that defends constitutional liberties including freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of conscience.
He is campaigning on improving the rule of law and public safety, including by fighting to end Minnesota’s human-trafficking epidemic and opioid scourge. He is also promising to fight sanctuary city policies and to combat a host of regulations drafted by unelected bureaucrats that will be bad for Minnesota businesses and consumers.
He is also promising to de-politicize the attorney general’s office. The last two Democrat attorney generals ignored and under-resourced the criminal law division, opting instead to build up divisions that could be used for partisan causes. The office has become so politicized, in fact, that even progressives are criticizing its toxic work environment, which is rife with Soviet-esque loyalty pledges, informants, and intimidation.
Because of this mess, current Democrat Attorney General Lori Swanson failed to gain her party’s nod to run for her fourth four-year term in November. Having lost to a novice political activist at Democrats’ state convention, Swanson instead mounted an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to run for governor. Her abrupt departure opened up the attorney general race for Democrats, and Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison, the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee, has won the Democratic nomination. He will face Wardlow in November.
Ellison Is an Extremist
Ellison is one of the furthest-left members of Congress — he proudly supports open borders — but he is particularly unfit for the attorney general position given his disdain for the law. The most egregious instance of this is Ellison’s history of supporting multiple cop-killers: Sharif Willis, leader of the “Vice Lords” gang that planned an execution-style killing of a police officer; Kathleen Soliah, who attempted to pipe-bomb officers in Los Angeles in 1975; Mumia Abu-Jamal, who shot and killed a Philadelphia officer in 1981; and Joanne Chesimard, who killed a New Jersey state trooper in 1973 and now hides out in Cuba.
Ellison also faces credible allegations of abuse from multiple women. These allegations should be enough to disqualify him for the position, but there is more. Ellison, a convert to Islam, has a troubling history of associating himself with highly suspect groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which is tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist political movement, and downright hateful groups like the Nation of Islam and its leader Louis Farrakhan, who is on record saying that Adolf Hitler was a “very great man,” and has blamed Jews for everything from the Holocaust to the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Ellison worked for Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam for 18 months, and says he abandoned the group once he realized Farrakhan’s extremist views. But when Ellison worked for Farrakhan he talked of “Jewish slave traders.” As a supposedly older and wiser man, Ellison also allegedly met with Farrakhan — and certainly met with other Nation of Islam leaders — multiple times since being elected to Congress. These ties have led prominent figures to credibly label Ellison as an anti-Semite.
Based on this brief review of Ellison’s resume, it’s fair to conclude he is a man of stunningly bad judgment. Take one recent example. Multiple local news outlets in Minnesota have recently reported on massive welfare fraud occurring in the state. Tens of millions have been stolen, possibly amounting to half of the state’s $200 million child-care subsidies.
Exact estimates are hard to come by, given that the extent of the problem is not even fully known by the bureaucrats who run the program. But we do know that some of this money left the country in suitcases full of cash and ended up in the hands of al-Shabaab, a terror group in direct combat with American soldiers in the Horn of Africa.
In Minnesota, the attorney general is specifically granted the authority to go after welfare fraud, especially fraud on such a massive scale. But Ellison, who thinks he should be elected the state’s top law enforcement officer, didn’t call for an in-depth investigation, tougher enforcement, the prosecution of wrongdoers, or pledge to fix the problem.
Instead, Ellison said that Fox 9, which originally reported the story, should issue a “correction and apology” because the station was “impugning” the reputation of Minnesota’s Somali community with “irresponsible reporting.” Ellison offered no reason other than his word as to why a correction or apology was required, and offered no refutation of the facts Fox 9 reported.
We Can’t Fight Fair, So We’ll Fight Dirty
Wardlow’s experience as a legal professional, his mainstream candidacy, and his strong reputation, contrasted with Ellison’s track record make it clear he is the candidate to bet on going into November. Obviously wanting to maintain control over the powerful attorney general office, Democrats are responding to Wardlow by labeling him as an extremist.
Enter the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Ellison and Minnesota’s largest paper are using the SPLC to attack Wardlow, by labeling ADF, where he worked as a constitutional lawyer, as a “hate-group.”
ADF is not a hate group. It is a mainstream, nonprofit, conservative legal organization that works to preserve Americans’ fundamental freedom of speech, religion, and conscience. In the past seven years, ADF has won eight of the eight cases it brought before the Supreme Court, all of which involved freedom of speech or of religion.
It would be difficult to think of a more powerful rebuke to the SPLC’s baseless charge that ADF is a “hate group” than its astonishing record of success at the Supreme Court. The issues ADF is representing or fighting for are obviously not fringe issues; they are values America believes in, and rights the Supreme Court continues to vindicate. The fact that Wardlow successfully litigated at ADF is a badge of honor, and an indication that he is well-equipped to fight for and defend the rights of all Minnesotans as attorney general, not an indication he is some kind of extremist.
The Snare They Set Deserves to Be Sprung on Them
The SPLC, on the other hand, sits on the fringes. Long ago, the SPLC fought against racism and pursued justice for those harmed by prejudice. But those virtues no longer animate the organization. Instead, the SPLC is now little more than a propaganda machine for Democrats that drums up millions of dollars for its founder, while neglecting the public.
Anyone who disagrees with the SPLC’s far-left agenda can expect to be labeled a hater, a bigot, or worse. The SPLC has attacked veterans, nuns, Catholics, evangelicals, and even Muslims who oppose fundamentalist Islam and terrorism. Ben Carson, our current Housing and Urban Development Secretary, made a SPLC “hate list” simply because of his belief in marriage as between one man and one woman.
Meanwhile, the SPLC continues to routinely ignore actual extremism on the Left. For example, Women’s March organizer Linda Sarsour — who has shared a stage with Farrakhan and with convicted terrorists, and kept Jewish women out of a recent march while claiming that Zionists can’t be feminists — is lauded as a “civil rights activist” by the SPLC.
The SPLC staunchly defends CAIR, for which Ellison has keynoted several events. Anyone that questions CAIR is smeared by the SPLC as an anti-Muslim bigot. But even the FBI ended contacts with CAIR in 2008 because of concerns about its ties to terrorism. Ellison also has a long history with the SPLC. Most recently, he wanted Amazon to ban books that the SPLC considered hateful.
The Game Is Set
The SPLC is a far-left group masquerading as an unbiased nonprofit. Democrats across the country will try to use the SPLC as a proxy to smear their opponents as November nears. The epicenter of this battleground will be Minnesota’s attorney general contest. Democrats have a narrative to maintain, a powerful elected office to retain, and a deeply-flawed but nationally known candidate in Ellison.
The largest newspaper in Minnesota, the Star Tribune, is already citing and repeating the SPLC’s lie that ADF is a “hate group.” Ellison followed suit, calling ADF an “extreme organization.” Ellison has claimed without evidence that ADF supported disgusting human rights abuses and the downright persecution of gay and transgendered people. Not only are these scare-tactics total smears and lies, the irony here is astounding. CAIR is notorious for hosting radical speakers who spew bigotry.
For example, a former member of CAIR’s advisory board and a frequent speaker with the organization, Siraj Wahhaj, has preached: “You know what the punishment is, if a man is found with another man? The Prophet Mohammad said … the one who does it and the one to whom it is done to, kill them both.” Wahhaj went on to implore his congregants to not hurt gay people, but to invite them to Islam and to “make them feel uncomfortable.”
These questions must be asked: Will the Star Tribune apologize for labeling ADF as a “hate group?” Do the Star Tribune and other media organizations agree with the SPLC’s tarnishing of mainstream conservatives, and SPLC’s whitewashing of extremists on the left? Does Ellison disavow the SPLC? Does Ellison disavow his past-support for extremist and far-left causes?
The ultimate solution is for conservatives to fight back. Any and every candidate who peddles the shopworn SPLC narrative should be called to account. The same goes for liberal journalists and editorial boards. In Minnesota, Wardlow’s campaign of calling the SPLC’s bluff will reveal the left’s favorite hit group for what it is. He’s the right man for the job.
Correction: This article has been corrected to reflect the fact that Wardlow worked for Robert Lighthizer before the latter became the U.S. trade representative.