December 18, 2017/Press

Pressure Mounts on Judicial Pick, Counsel to Racist Helms’ Campaign Thomas Farr

Raleigh – President Trump’s nominee for the Eastern District of North Carolina is facing mounting pressure to explain his role in then-Sen. Jesse Helms’s racist 1990 campaign and its attempts to intimidate black voters, now from the Washington Post editorial board:

The committee can start by calling back Thomas Farr, the nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, to explain discrepancies regarding his knowledge of a voter-suppression effort by then-Sen. Jesse Helms’s 1990 campaign.

The Post cited a bombshell IndyWeek report which found Farr lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee about his role in the racist mailers:

Raleigh lawyer Thomas Farr, a nominee for a federal judgeship, knew well in advance about a controversial 1990 postcard campaign designed by Republicans to intimidate blacks who wanted to vote, according to a former Department of Justice investigator.

The statements made this week by Gerald Hebert, a federal attorney in 1990, directly contradict Farr’s sworn testimony in September before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that he only heard about it after a Justice Department letter responding to the plan.

That report led Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) to request internal documents from the DOJ around Farr’s involvement and renewed calls for Farr to explain his role and his apparent lie under oath.

Since his testimony, the Southern Poverty Law Center uncovered fresh evidenceof Farr’s record of fighting advances in black political participation. From SPLC:

What’s missing and more disquieting in Farr’s story, however, is his early connections to one of the most influential racist hate groups of the 20th century: the Pioneer Fund. Founded in 1937 to pursue “race betterment” for those “deemed to be descended predominantly from white persons who settled in the original thirteen states prior to the adoption of the Constitution,” the Pioneer Fund was the “primary source for scientific racism” well into the 2000s and one of the key funders of the fight against civil rights in the South from the 1950s onward.

Farr’s connection to the Pioneer Fund comes principally through his longtime boss and mentor, Thomas Ellis, the political mastermind behind the arch-segregationist Senator Jesse Helms. Ellis was a Pioneer Fund director, grantee and close associate of the hate group’s president, Harry Frederick Weyher, Jr., for over 60 years. In the 1980s, hundreds of thousands of dollars flowed from the Pioneer Fund to a tax-exempt foundation called the Coalition For Freedom that was under Ellis’ control and represented by Farr.

In reality, Farr stands as a direct descendant of one of the most sophisticated segregationist projects in American history.

Farr has faced strong resistance since his nomination. The Congressional Black Caucus, NAACP, ALF-CIO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, NCDP, and other groups have blasted the nominee for his role in, among other things:

  • the Republican constitutional amendment banning marriage equality;
  • NC GOP’s racially gerrymandered, unconstitutional maps; and,
  • voter suppression laws targeting African-Americans with surgical precision.

Add to it perjury and deep roots to a group known as “the primary source for scientific racism” and it’s clear Farr is unfit for a lifetime federal appointment.

“Thomas Farr is the go-to defender for Republican’s most indefensible policies, whether racist attempts to stop African-Americans from voting or banning marriage equality,” NCDP Executive Director Kimberly Reynolds said. “Now, we know he not only perjured himself but helped plan overtly racist mailers and has deep ties to a white supremacist group. He’s wholly unfit for a lifetime federal appointment.”

Washington Post: The Senate is rushing through Trump’s judicial nominees. These embarrassments prove it.
By Editorial Board 
December 17, 2017

PRESIDENT TRUMP has confirmed 12 nominees to judgeships on the federal courts of appeals — more than any other modern president achieved during his first year. Yet while Republicans may pride themselves on this record, a string of recent embarrassments shows that the Senate is rushing too quickly through Mr. Trump’s choices.

The White House announced last week that it would not be moving forward with two nominees for district court posts, Brett Talley of Alabama and Jeff Mateer of Texas. Mr. Talley and Mr. Mateer faced resistance from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) — though both senators voted in support of Mr. Talley’s nomination before the committee.

We hope that Mr. Kennedy continues to hold nominees to the high professional standard appropriate for a lifetime appointment — and that his Republican colleagues, including Mr. Grassley, share that commitment. The committee can start by calling back Thomas Farr, the nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, to explain discrepancies regarding his knowledge of a voter-suppression effort by then-Sen. Jesse Helms’s 1990 campaign.

Read the full editorial here.

Indy Week: Did Former Helms Lawyer Thomas Farr Lie to the Senate Judiciary Committee? It Sure Looks That Way.
By Thomas Goldsmith 
November 15, 2017

Raleigh lawyer Thomas Farr, a nominee for a federal judgeship, knew well in advance about a controversial 1990 postcard campaign designed by Republicans to intimidate blacks who wanted to vote, according to a former Department of Justice investigator.

The statements made this week by Gerald Hebert, a federal attorney in 1990, directly contradict Farr’s sworn testimony in September before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that he only heard about it after a Justice Department letter responding to the plan.

Farr did not respond to requests for comment from the INDY Tuesday and Wednesday. Farr’s nomination was approved by the Judiciary Committee last month. He must still be confirmed by the full Senate.

Hebert told the INDY Wednesday that he learned about the role Farr played planning the postcards when responding to complaints to the Justice Department about the 1990 senatorial campaign of the late North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms.

A meeting planning “ballot security” efforts—including the intimidating postcards—included Farr and took place in mid-October before the November election between Helms, who won, and then-Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt, Hebert says, referring to contemporaneous handwritten notes.

Read the full article here.

Southern Poverty Law Center: From eugenics to voter ID laws: Thomas Farr’s connections to the Pioneer Fund
December 4, 2017
By Alex Amend

Over the summer, President Donald Trump nominated Thomas Alvin Farr to be a federal judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina. For good reason, his nomination has earned universal opposition from the civil rights community.

In a September letter to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, of the North Carolina National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), argued that Farr “does not possess the temperament necessary to serve in an impartial judicial position.” What Farr does possess, according to Barber, “is a long record as an advocate for hyper-partisan, segregationist causes.”

Farr’s record of fighting advances in black political participation spans decades. It includes his involvement in drafting and then defending the 2013 North Carolina “monster” voter restriction law struck down by a federal court because it targeted black voters “with almost surgical precision.” “Because of race, the Legislature enacted one of the largest restrictions of the franchise in modern North Carolina history,” the court ruled.

And just recently, Farr was reported to have misrepresented his role in voter suppression activity directed at black voters conducted by the Jesse Helms Senate campaign in 1990 against Charlotte’s first black mayor, Harvey Gantt. A former Justice Department lawyer placed Farr in the center of the unlawful conduct.

This record should be disqualifying on its own. What’s missing and more disquieting in Farr’s story, however, is his early connections to one of the most influential racist hate groups of the 20th century: the Pioneer Fund. Founded in 1937 to pursue “race betterment” for those “deemed to be descended predominantly from white persons who settled in the original thirteen states prior to the adoption of the Constitution,” the Pioneer Fund was the “primary source for scientific racism” well into the 2000s and one of the key funders of the fight against civil rights in the South from the 1950s onward.

Farr’s connection to the Pioneer Fund comes principally through his longtime boss and mentor, Thomas Ellis, the political mastermind behind the arch-segregationist Senator Jesse Helms. Ellis was a Pioneer Fund director, grantee and close associate of the hate group’s president, Harry Frederick Weyher, Jr., for over 60 years. In the 1980s, hundreds of thousands of dollars flowed from the Pioneer Fund to a tax-exempt foundation called the Coalition For Freedom that was under Ellis’ control and represented by Farr.

Read the full report here.

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