Wednesday, September 19, 2007

HSLDA Shouldn't Endorse Federal Candidates

I learned this evening, through the MeetUp group Homeschoolers for Ron Paul, that the Home School Legal Defense Association Political Action Committee (HSLDA PAC) has endorsed a candidate in the GOP Presidential Primary race... former governor Mike Huckabee. This endorsement by HSLDA President J. Michael Smith and HSLDA Chairman Michael P. Farris was actually made in July via a letter to member voters prior to Iowa's Ames Straw Poll. (Obviously, the news took a while to trickle down here. Probably couldn't stand the heat.) I searched the HSLDA website, and could not find any mention of the endorsement. HSLDA is a 501(c)3 non-profit and prohibited by law from making political endorsements; HSLDA PAC is not a non-profit and can endorse candidates to their hearts content even though they have ties to HSLDA. Nice little loophole there, huh? (This would be so much simpler if the government would simplify the election process, but that is a post for another day.) I was able to find a copy of the letter here if you are interested in reading it.

As a member of HSLDA, I felt I should write to them and express my disappointment at their endorsement. Here is what I wrote:


I am writing to express my disappointment at HSLDA's endorsement of former governor Mike Huckabee for the position of Presidential Candidate in the 2008 GOP primary.

I agree that former governor Mr. Huckabee is a friend of homeschooling families, however, I do not believe that HSLDA should be endorsing ANY candidate on the federal level. Using the rule of subsidiarity, education of any kind (government school, private school or home school) should be handled on the local level. When national education organizations, such as HSLDA, promote a Presidential candidate, it is not only purporting its favor of a specific candidate but also condoning the federalization of the education system in America. This federalization is a losing situation for homeschoolers. In the event that HSLDA feels it must endorse a candidate on the federal level, it should reserve that endorsement for a candidate who supports the de-federalization of America's educational system.

HSLDA could be a better resource to its members by educating them on the stands of every candidate and pointing out which are friends of homeschooling by emphasizing their voting records and other actions in this realm.

Please take a constitutional stand and help reduce the interference of the federal government in the lives of homeschooling families by refusing to endorse candidates for federal positions based on issues that should not be handled at the federal level.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to seeing a list of all homeschool friendly candidates for races at all levels of government on HSLDA's website in the near future.


Seriously, I think that they should not endorse any federal-level candidates, and that includes Ron Paul. The only possible exception that I could think of would be if they endorsed a candidate who was determined to eliminate the Department of Education for being unconstitutional, but since that is obviously not something they plan on doing, I would rather that they endorse no one.

Some interesting tidbits that I uncovered while I was preparing my letter to HSLDA:

1. According to The American Spectator, the Federal Election Commission is investigating HSLDA's endorsement of Huckabee saying:
"It doesn't appear from the materials we've been given that HSLDA PAC was involved in any way with the planning of this endorsement," says an FEC staffer. "Everything was through the nonprofit arm. It doesn't appear that these folks even attempted to build a firewall, so it makes us wonder about coordination."

That's just what you want to hear about the organization that you pay in case you have need of legal representation, huh?

2. I did a search on HSLDA's website for "Huckabee" and came up with 11 hits. Six of these were for interviews with the former governor on HSLDA's radio spot Homeschool Heartbeat. The remaining 5 pertained to Mr. Huckabee's thoughts and policies on education (with homeschooling implications) or homeschooling specifically, generally all pro-homeschooling. (If you do your own search - for anything - on their site, ignore the hit count in the upper right-hand corner of the window. It is not accurate. You have to scroll through and hand count.)

3. I also did a search on HSLDA's website for "Ron Paul" and came up with 25 hits. All 25 hits pertained to legislative decisions or opinions of Dr. Paul. All were in support of less government intrusion into the lives of homeschooling families. None were related to interviews. (As with the hits for Mr. Huckabee, some of the hits for policy were for a single piece of legislation or issue that was being discussed multiple times.)

4. A search for "Fred Thompson" at the HSLDA site yielded one hit. It was for a vote HSLDA found favorable (in 1997).

5. A similar search for "Giuliani" yielded no hits.

6. A search for "Mitt Romney" yielded one hit. It was in regards to sex education in Massachusetts schools. HSLDA mentions in the alert that the purpose of sending the alert is not directly related to homeschooling but to "family issues in Massachusetts."

7. And just a little FYI... there is no constitutional right to education stated (explicitly or otherwise) in the US Constitution. (This has been upheld in numerous Supreme Court decisions, including the case of San Antonio School District v. Rodriguez- see Section II,B, paragraph 9 of Justice Powell's court opinion.) Therefore, education falls under the stipulations of the 10th Amendment:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

I am definitely against HSLDA endorsing any candidate, but I am a little disturbed that they don't even seem to be logical in their endorsement. Given my discoveries in #2-6 above, HSLDA has mentioned Ron Paul more times when speaking of legislators who support freedom for homeschoolers than of any other candidate. So why aren't they endorsing Ron Paul instead? The lack of logic all-around on the behalf of HSLDA just astounds me.

If you are a member of HSLDA, please go to their website and send them an email (you'll need your login information) letting them know that you believe their endorsement of Mr. Huckabee, or any federal-level candidate, is an endorsement of federalized education which is bad for homeschoolers.

If you are not an HSLDA member but would like to make them aware of your disapproval of their endorsement of federalized education via their endorsement of federal candidates, go to their website for contact information. (If you can't find it, let me know and I'll dig it up for you.)

And no, I won't ban you or anything if you contact them and give a different point-of-view than I have expressed here. Why? It's your right.

For purposes of full disclosure, please note that I am a member of both HSLDA (although not of HSLDA PAC which is, as far as I can tell, a separate entity) and of Homeschoolers for Ron Paul. I am also a member of a local Ron Paul MeetUp group.

Update: (09/20/07 @ 8:09pm) I have added a link to HSLDA PAC's website above. Also, according to HSLDA's "About & FAQ" page, they are a 501(c)4 non-profit, not a 501(c)3 as stated in the American Spectator article that I referenced above. What's the difference? I haven't a clue, really. All I learned about 501(c)s I learned on Wikipedia, here and here.


Jim Bob Howard, Editor-in-Chief said...

Excellent research and information. Thanks for sharing all of this.

Shana said...

Unless they've removed it, there is one page at HSLDA that documents Huckabee signing into law legislation that restricts the rights of homeschooling parents. Check it out-

Heather_in_WI said...

Preach it sister. Absolutely fabulous job here.

I decided not to re-new my HSLDA membership last year (after two years of membership) because it seemed they were becoming less focused on homeschooling and more focused politics in general.


Under the Sky said...

100% agree with you. What an excellent post.


Dawn said...

Huh. Seems to me like the HSLDA is becoming more lie the NEA with each passing day.

B&B said...

Excellent post! I just heard of Ron Paul last night from a Yahoo link. I'd like to hear more as I really liked what I heard.

As for government involved in schooling, well they haven't been doing such a great job as it is. Why would we want them to become MORE involved? I think Florida actually loves homeschoolers because it helps take the pessure off the school system.

Again, great post!

Anonymous said...

Really good post! And actually, I have read that Ron Paul DOES want to abolish the Department of Education. He has also mentioned this in a live interview as well.

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Anonymous said...

Apparently HSLDA via its "Daily Digest" solicited members to get signatures on a petition for Huckabee. I do think that crosses the line. It was not HSLDA-PAC, it was HSLDA doing it.

Samsson said...

Great research...Here's another letter to HSLDA on the same topic.

Samsson said...

While I agree that Chriatins should obey the law of the land regarding tax exempt 501(c)3organizations influencing legislation, I don't think that is a good law. [I wouldn't worry about changing it, though, since churches don't have to become 501(c)3 organizations.] Here are my arguments why I think it is wrong for churches (at least non 501(c)3 churches) to not seek to influence legislation and elections.

Elicia Thompson said...

I don't think I will be renewing my membership with HSLDA because of their illogical endorsement of Huckabee. Something just seems fishy about the whole thing and I don't like the looks of it.