Pennsylvania Senators Pressure Philadelphia Museum to Cancel Moms for Liberty Event

Pennsylvania Senators Pressure Philadelphia Museum to Cancel Moms for Liberty Event
TAMPA, FL - JULY 15: A sign reading "We Do Not CO-PARENT with the Government" is seen in the hallway during the inaugural Moms For Liberty Summit at the Tampa Marriott Water Street on July 15, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)
Beth Brelje

The Moms for Liberty Joyful Warriors National Summit starts on June 29 in Philadelphia, but controversy surrounding the event has been brewing for weeks in the City of Brotherly Love.

Six Democrat members of the Pennsylvania Senate sent a letter imploring the Museum of the American Revolution to cancel the Moms for Liberty event planned there for June 29 through July 2.

“Moms for Liberty, put plainly, is a hate group,” the June 20 letter said. “This is not hyperbole—on June, 6, 2023, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) designated Moms for Liberty a hate group, and specifically, as an Anti-government Extremist group. SPLC went so far as to compare Moms for Liberty to the pro-segregationist parent groups that formed in the wake of Brown V. Board of Education.”

As elected representatives, the letter signers said, it is their duty to promote an inclusive environment celebrating and honoring diverse backgrounds and fostering a sense of belonging for all residents.

The letter was signed by state Sens. Nikil Saval, Christine Tartaglione, Anthony Williams, Sharif Street, Vincent Hughes, and Jimmy Dillon, the Philadelphia delegation.

“The museum’s leadership has demonstrated a lack of judgment in agreeing to host a hate group. Fortunately, the mistake can be fixed with a simple and elegant solution: cancel the Moms for Liberty event scheduled for June 29. We look forward to your prompt actions,” the letter said.

It is worth noting the museum relies on donations for funding, including some from state grants which are overseen by the senators.

Event to Remain at Museum

As of June 26, the senators had not heard back from the museum, a spokeswoman for one of the senators told The Epoch Times.

“The Museum of the American Revolution is a private entity with complete discretion over what organizations it chooses to host,” Saval told The Epoch Times when asked if pressuring the museum could be perceived as curtailing freedom of speech. “The leadership’s decision to open its facilities to a hate group known for its use of threatening and violent rhetoric and its strong ties to national anti-LGBTQ groups and right-wing public officials, sends the message that the museum endorses these views. Urging the museum to cancel this event does not prevent this group from speaking; our letter asks a highly regarded cultural institution to uphold Philadelphia’s spirit of liberty, inclusivity, and solidarity.”

A spokesperson for the museum confirmed to The Epoch Times that it will not cancel the event.

“The Museum of the American Revolution strives to create an inclusive and accessible museum experience for visitors with a wide range of viewpoints and beliefs,” the spokesperson said. “Consistent with this mission, we make available after-hours and private rentals to groups that organize legally and safely, including federally recognized 501(c)(4) nonprofit organizations. Because fostering understanding within a democratic society is so central to our mission, rejecting visitors on the basis of ideology would in fact be antithetical to our purpose.”

Some staff at the museum have also complained about the event.

“We care deeply about providing a workplace in which our staff know they are heard, valued, and safe. We welcome all visitors and pride ourselves on a museum experience that reflects our mission to uncover and share the stories of diverse people and complex events that sparked the ongoing American experiment in liberty, equality, and self-government,” the museum spokesperson said.

“Our staff are the lifeblood of this work. We are aware that some members of our staff do not agree with the museum’s private booking, and we will continue to do all we can to support them by listening with intention, making sure they know they are valued, and accommodating them when the event date arrives.”

Protests Planned

The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP Philadelphia) will hold a “dance party protest” of the Moms for Liberty event.

“We are a diverse, non-partisan group, united in anger, and committed to ending the AIDS crisis through direct action,” the ACT UP website says. Defense of Democracy is another group recruiting protesters for the event.

Moms for Liberty has objected to sexually explicit books in school libraries and critical race theory in school curriculum. It has quickly grown into a right-leaning political force that cannot be ignored.

“Moms for Liberty is an organization dedicated to the protection of parental rights in K–12 public education. We now have 285 chapters in 44 states and we have only been in existence for two years. We believe that parents know what is best for their children and they should be a part of all decision-making concerning their child’s education,” Moms for Liberty co-founders Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich told The Epoch Times in a joint email statement.

“We expect our national summit in Philadelphia to be a time of training and empowerment for parents to be more active in their child’s school system. We stand for the rights of parents and against anyone trying to silence parents who want to speak up on behalf of their child’s needs.”

Authority of Southern Poverty Law Center

Being labeled a “hate group” by the SPLC, which has no official authority on such matters, can have wide-ranging consequences, including severe reputational damage.

Once the SPLC labels a group or individual, others—including partisan lawmakers and politically charged groups—use the label citing the SPLC’s designation as proof that the group and anyone who would associate with it is a problem.

Soon after Moms for Liberty announced it would hold its national summit in Philadelphia, SPLC released its June 6 report, “The Year in Hate and Extremism 2022,” in which it labeled Moms for Liberty an antigovernment extremist and hate group.

It did not take long for protests of the Moms for Liberty event to mobilize, citing the “hate group” designation.

It is unclear precisely how SPLC became the authority on defining hate groups, but SPLC does have clear political ties to the White House.

On Jan. 6, 2023, Susan Corke, director of SPLC’s Intelligence Project, who oversaw the June 6 report, met at the White House with John Picarelli, director of counterterrorism at the National Security Council. Previously she worked for the U.S. Department of State and held positions in U.S. embassies in Moscow and Prague.

Picarelli is a long-time adjunct professor at George Washington University and serves as a lecturer at American University. His guests that day were mostly connected to American University, home of the Polarization & Extremism Research & Innovation Lab (PERIL).

They were Wyatt Russell, PERIL senior program manager and policy analyst; Katie Spann, PERIL director of operations; Cynthia Miller-Idriss, who oversees PERIL and says she has expertise in extremism, far-right movements, youth radicalization and higher education; Brian Hughes, PERIL co-founder and associate director; and Kesa White, PERIL program research associate.

PERIL and SPLC are working on various projects together.


The SPLC has at least 14 employees earning over $150,000 annually. Margaret Huang, president and CEO of SPLC and its lobbying arm, SPLC Action Fund, earned $445,000 in 2021 according to the nonprofit’s most recent 990 tax exempt form. It is more than President Joe Biden’s salary of $400,000.

Finding extremism has been lucrative. SPLC has $690 million in assets, 990 tax documents show. That dwarfs this year’s $155 million operating budget for all of Montgomery County, Alabama, where SPLC is located.

Although left-leaning political figures have complained that Moms for Liberty is connected to high-level right leaning leaders, the SPLC is quietly connected to the Biden administration.

Nancy Abudu was the SPLC strategic litigation director, but in May, Congress confirmed her for a lifetime appointment as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

Corke has testified on behalf of SPLC in Congress about hate groups. And in addition to Corke’s visit to the White House, other SPLC staffers have also had private meetings in the executive offices.

Efrén Olivares, deputy legal director of the SPLC’s Immigrant Justice Project, which focuses on ending immigrant detention, was at the White House on Jan. 6, 2023.

Elizabeth Grossman, SPLC executive director and general counsel of the Fair Housing Justice Center, visited Cori Zarek, U.S. Digital Service deputy administrator in the West Wing of White House, on Dec. 12, 2022.

Board member Isabel Rubio, founder and executive director of the SPLC Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, visited the White House on Dec. 12, 2022.

Board member Josh Bekenstein attended a celebration of the Inflation Reduction Act on the White House South Lawn on Sept. 13, 2022.

Board member Bryan Fair was at the White House on July 5, 2022. Margaret Huang was in the same visit, July 5. She also visited Biden on May 20, 2021, in a small group of 17 visitors.

Daniel McGregor, SPLC’s chief operating officer, was at the White House on Aug. 18, 2022.

The Epoch Times reached out to SPLC for comment, but the organization did not respond.

Four Republican presidential candidates have agreed to speak at the Joyful Warriors Summit: former President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and former U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley.

Moms for Liberty also invited Democrat presidential candidates Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and President Joe Biden to the summit, according to various news reports.

Beth Brelje is an award-winning Epoch Times reporter who covers U.S. politics, state news, and national issues. Ms. Brelje previously worked in radio for 20 years and after moving to print, worked at Pocono Record and Reading Eagle. Send her your story ideas: [email protected]
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