The company you keep: Thomas Farr's roots in White Supremacy

KLAN.jpg

His now-deceased business partner was a champion for segregation:

The recent death of Raleigh lawyer and political strategist Tom Ellis at 97 marked the passing of perhaps the last prominent North Carolinian who once advocated for the white supremacist views of Wesley Critz George of Chapel Hill. George believe blacks were biologically inferior to whites and that “the protoplasmic mixing of the races” would diminish the white race, hurting its ability to survive.

“As good citizens, we should do all we can to insure that ten generations and more from now we shall have a breed of people in this country capable of maintaining American civilization,” George wrote in 1956. “Integration and amalgamation of the two races is not the way to insure having such a breed of people.”

While this story is mostly about Tom Ellis and the racists he admired and supported, it's also about how mainstream Republicans have absolutely no problem ignoring white supremacist backgrounds. At best, that's what we're supposed to assume about Thomas Farr: That he was simply a business partner of Ellis and did not automatically share his opinions. But these guys worked together for over thirty years, so spare me that painfully thin legal argument. Here's more if you can stomach it:

William H. Tucker, a retired psychology professor at Rutgers and author of the 2002 book, “The Funding of Scientific Racism,” concluded that it likely was Ellis in the mid-1950s who sent George’s pamphlets to Harry Weyher, a North Carolinian who was then a New York lawyer representing the Pioneer Fund. That nonprofit supported research to establish the genetic and intellectual inferiority of blacks.

Ellis later served as a Pioneer Fund board member for four years. When Ellis was nominated by President Reagan in 1983 to an international broadcasting board, Ellis was sharply questioned about his views on race, The Washington Post reported. Ellis testified that his views on race had changed. “I do not believe in my heart that I’m a racist,” he said.

Ellis said he resigned from the Pioneer Fund board after newspaper reports about it. Ellis eventually asked for his nomination to be withdrawn.

Reports of Ellis’ connections to the Pioneer Fund resurfaced recently when President Trump nominated Raleigh lawyer Tom Farr for a federal judgeship. Farr practiced law with Ellis for years, considered him a mentor and was named in Ellis’ obituary. Several civil rights groups have opposed Farr’s nomination in part because of his relationship with Ellis.

Donald Trump has submitted Thomas Farrr's name to Congress *twice* in the last 18 months or so, and that second nomination is still pending. But aside from his obvious connections to white supremacists, Thomas Farr's ethics are also extremely suspect. He's apparently a master at shuffling money around to conceal its origins:

Farr’s law firm also represented the Coalition For Freedom, a tax-exempt organization within the network. Ellis was its principal director. This organization received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Pioneer Fund throughout the 1980s.

The Coalition For Freedom relied on Farr’s law firm for organizing the interlocking entities to maximize their monetary and political influence. The Coalition For Freedom ended up making the contributions, resulting in an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service about whether the tax-exempt organization served a private interest to Jesse Helms, the Helms for Senate Committee and the National Congressional Club. The IRS ultimately revoked Coalition For Freedom’s tax-exempt status because it had engaged in political campaign activities and provided a private benefit to the group's "insiders."

The network had other ties to the Pioneer Fund. After President Ronald Reagan’s landslide re-election in 1984, Ellis organized an attempted conservative shareholder takeover of the CBS television network with a new front group called Fairness In Media. Ellis enlisted Weyher to serve as its lawyer. Helms sent letters to his base across the nation urging them to purchase CBS stock, which garnered the senator enormous publicity. When CBS fought back, it pointed to Ellis and Weyher’s connections to the Pioneer Fund and noted Ellis’ opposition to racial integration in North Carolina.

Okay, that CBS thing is more than a little crazy, and it also seems to foreshadow the rise of Fox News...

Tags: