Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin is caught up in an interesting squabble over a memo he signed last May, urging his employees at the Carlyle Group to donate to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a viciously anti-conservative nonprofit. Youngkin is running against a handful of candidates in a Republican primary set for May 8.
When the memo caught the attention of CNS News in January, a Youngkin spokesman called the issue “a false and deceptive smear from political opponents who are scared of Glenn, a conservative outsider and leader from the private sector who can win.”
In a Thursday statement to The Federalist, Youngkin campaign spokesperson Macaulay Porter said, “Glenn has never given a dime to the SPLC and is totally opposed to their agenda. Other people at Carlyle supported it but Glenn never did.”
“Glenn is a Christian and a conservative who served in his church for years,” Porter continued, “and he has donated millions of dollars to Christian charities and organizations.”
In the frenzied days following George Floyd’s death, Youngkin and Carlyle co-CEO Kewsong Lee signed a message to employees that “announc[ed] a special match to support organizations that are working on social justice and reform of the US criminal justice system.”
Dated May 31, the letter, which is still available as a news release on the private equity firm’s website, said, “Carlyle will match donations up to $1000 to the organizations listed below and it will not count towards your annual matching gifts limit of $2000. You will receive details on how to make a donation by the end of the week.”
Those organizations were the Equal Justice Initiative, SPLC, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. As CNS noted, EJI and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund are both leftist initiatives as well.
Social conservatives know the SPLC as an organization that powerfully influences discrimination against Christians. Even left-of-center journalists have reported on the nonprofit’s scams. Not long ago, my colleague Joy Pullmann detailed the SPLC’s decades-long history of labeling mainstream conservative and Christian organizations as hate groups and extremists, which has led to intense discrimination against them.
This is hardly insider knowledge. The SPLC’s tactics have been controversial for years, which would be known to anyone who completed even cursory research before directing corporate resources their way.
What’s interesting about this dust-up is that it highlights the challenges so-called “woke capital” will pose for future Republican hopefuls with a business background. Corporate executives now face intense pressure from their own staff and outside media to promote leftist causes. Business leaders like Youngkin, who spent 25 years at Carlyle, have historically been well-received by Republican voters, trusted to pursue common-sense fiscal policies and navigate staid, insular bureaucracies.
But the rise of woke capital, along with the GOP’s increasingly working-class base, means business backgrounds will come with cultural baggage in the future. Let’s revisit Porter’s statement to The Federalist. “Glenn has never given a dime to the SPLC and is totally opposed to their agenda. Other people at Carlyle supported it but Glenn never did,” he wrote.
Nevertheless, Youngkin’s name is on the message to Carlyle employees, urging them to send money to the SPLC and pledging to match those donations with his company’s resources. The SPLC actively uses corporate cash to tar Christians and conservatives, the people whose votes Youngkin now needs, as bigots.
Given that Youngkin’s campaign now insists he’s “totally opposed” to the SPLC’s agenda, it’s an unfortunate situation. The pressure executives now face to use corporate resources to empower the left’s growing cultural power and hateful conduct is formidable. It puts business leaders who hope to put their private sector experience to work as lawmakers in a difficult position, underscoring the shifting coalitions to which Republicans and Democrats are responsive.