20 Kansas Legislators are members of ‘far-right’ Facebook groups, report says

ByAlyssa R. Elliott

May 22, 2022 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
A new report from the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights found a growing number of legislators in "far-right" Facebook groups, including Rep. Tatum Lee, R-Ness City, pictured here at an anti-vaccine rally in the Statehouse last month.

A new report from the Institute for Analysis and Schooling on Human Legal rights discovered a expanding range of legislators in “significantly-right” Facebook teams, like Rep. Tatum Lee, R-Ness Metropolis, pictured below at an anti-vaccine rally in the Statehouse last month.

A consider tank uncovered 20 point out lawmakers, or 12% of the Legislature, ended up associates of Facebook groups deemed to be “far-appropriate,” such as kinds spreading COVID-19 misinformation and increasing problems about the integrity of the 2020 election.

The report, printed by the Kansas Metropolis-based Institute for Study and Instruction on Human Legal rights previously this 7 days, did not uncover proof that lawmakers ended up straight participating in the discourse getting put in the groups.

But the study’s authors argue it is a signal of the developing impact of these types of ideology in condition legislatures throughout the place.

And its publication comes as significant-profile election conspiracy theorists testified in hearings at the Kansas Statehouse, as nicely as the developing existence of groups like Kansans for Wellbeing Liberty, who advocate for curbing the powers of general public wellbeing officials in light-weight of the COVID-19 pandemic.

More: ‘The Large Lie’ peddler argues Kansas elections aren’t secure. Some legislators surface sympathetic.

Various lawmakers ended up only members of a team run by Us citizens for Prosperity Kansas, a conservative lobbying team with a frequent existence in Topeka.

But some others joined groups with titles ranging from “Open up Kansas and Lock Down the Governor” to “STOP THE STEAL #Election2020.”

Some teams began as a coalition of associates pushing back again on restrictions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic but appear to have developed into a broader array of dialogue on right-wing difficulties ranging from significant race idea to conspiracy theories about voter fraud.

The IREHR report, titled “Breaching the Mainstream,” stated the survey was of specific relevance provided the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection in the U.S. Capitol and the boost in misinformation at statehouses nationally.

“We needed to have some form of indicator of how much-correct concepts have moved from the margins to the mainstream,’’ mentioned Devin Burghart, govt director of the institute. “Frankly, we were being stunned by what we found.”

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Nationally, 875 legislators, accounting for one out of each individual five point out lawmakers, were being customers of at least one particular much-ideal group. New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Missouri were being the states with the heaviest concentration of legislators in at the very least one particular team.

In Kansas, Rep. Pat Proctor, R-Fort Leavenworth, is reported as belonging to six teams, the most of any Kansas legislator.

In an job interview, Proctor claimed he was a member of individuals groups, most of which are publicly viewable.

“Our point out and our place is improved served by a vigorous discussion than it is by censoring speech a single facet or the other won’t like,” he reported.

Proctor also took situation with the classification of some of the groups as “far-right,” pointing to ReOpen Kansas, a team of opponents to COVID-19 limitations that held anti-mandate protests at the Statehouse all through the pandemic.

While the tenor of the demonstrations concentrated on things like urging Gov. Laura Kelly to lift the state’s continue to be-at-property purchase in May possibly, 2020, attendees also opposed vaccinations even though at minimum a single waved a Confederate flag.

“I feel that it truly is unhelpful to paint a complete facet of the political discussion as extremist or outdoors the mainstream or in some way objectionable for the reason that they’re participating in the community discourse and they say anything that the other aspect doesn’t like,” Proctor explained.

Andrew Bahl is a senior statehouse reporter for the Topeka Funds-Journal. He can be achieved at [email protected]

This write-up initially appeared on Topeka Cash-Journal: 20 Kansas legislators belong to far-correct, anti-vax Fb teams