The Federation for American Immigration Reform, FAIR, responded to a Florida Independent blog post about the group’s relationship with Floridians for Immigration Enforcement, FLIMEN. The latter organization has endorsed Republican Rick Scott for governor.
The FLIMEN website indicates that the organization’s president, Janet Renner, and vice president, David Caulkett, serve as “Florida state advisors” for FAIR.
In response to inquiries from our sister site The Washington Independent about political endorsements in the upcoming elections, FAIR spokesperson Kristen Williamson wrote:
We have worked with [Caulkett] before. We do have people called state advisers, but they are volunteers. It’s not a formal connection and they are not employees. Some people take it more seriously than others. He’s free to endorse someone as a representative of his group, but FAIR doesn’t do endorsements.
Ira Mehlman, media director for FAIR, wrote the following to The Florida Independent:
Your article about FLIMEN’s endorsement of Rick Scott gives the mistaken impression that Dave Caulket [sic] speaks on behalf of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. There is no affiliation between FAIR and FLIMEN and Dave Caulket [sic] does not represent FAIR or speak on its behalf. FLIMEN is an independent organization that sets its own policies. Moreover, FAIR is a 501c3 organization and does not endorse candidates for public office.
We contacted Caulkett to ask about his relationship with FAIR and the group’s efforts to distance itself from him, but he has not responded. We also contacted the Rick Scott campaign to ask if Scott accepts or rejects the FLIMEN endorsement. They have not responded.
In his email, Mehlman also defended FAIR’s reputation, despite its being flagged by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an “anti-immigration” group:
Your story … rehashes long refuted charges made against FAIR by the Southern Poverty Law Center. … Prominent news organization that have looked independently at SPLC … have all concluded that SPLC engages in character assassination for the purpose of fundraising.
We request that the Florida Independent make it clear that FAIR does not endorse anyone in the Florida governor’s race (or any other race) and that no affiliation exists between FAIR and FLIMEN.