Two of the co-founders of the ultra-conservative “parental rights” organization Moms For Liberty appeared on Facebook Wednesday to fire back — and solicit donations — after the Southern Poverty Law Center named them an “extremist group” in its annual report.
“We say, stick it to Southern Poverty Law Center and donate to us,” Tina Descovich declared on the broadcast. “Show that we don’t care what they think.”
Descovich’s fellow “Moms For Liberty” co-founder, Tiffany Justice, then informed listeners that an unnamed donor offered to match contributions on Wednesday up to $300,000.
“Yeah, people are fired up with Southern Poverty Law Center going after moms,” Descovich said. “I think we just passed the $30,000 mark on donations. … We’ll take any size donation.”
Since its inception, Moms For Liberty, which is also known as “M4L,” has been at the forefront of efforts to fight COVID mask mandates and school programs that promote diversity, awareness of racism, and LGBTQ inclusion. The group has promoted right-wing candidates for local school boards around the country. During their Facebook broadcast on Wednesday, Justice boasted that M4L backed over 500 prospective school board members last year. Descovich suggested the organization was facing criticism due to its effectiveness.
“Our enemies — and I will call them our enemies — have had a plan for decades and they have been putting it in place and moving forward,” she said.
“Their plan is to fundamentally change America into a different system,” she added. “They hate capitalism. They hate our form of government. They hate the way we have done things historically and so they have used every tool in their toolbox to advance their agenda. … We won’t go away so they keep layering on the attacks.”
Moms For Liberty is registered as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization, which means it can accept unlimited amounts of money without revealing the names of its donors. The group was founded in 2021 by Descovich and Justice, who are both former Florida county school board members, and a third woman, Bridget Ziegler, who has since left the group. The opaque nature of its finances makes it difficult to determine how much its leaders are paid.
Southern Poverty Law Center, which was founded in 1971, has focused on advancing and securing the aims of the civil rights movement. The organization has done legal work to combat hate groups and regularly publishes research on new extremist threats.
SPLC labeled Moms For Liberty an “extremist group” as part of its annual “year in hate and extremism” report. In that report, SPLC researchers Cassie Miller and Caleb Kieffer described last year as one in which the far right achieved a new level of “mainstream” success as it became “increasingly intertwined” with the Republican Party. Miller and Kieffer described Moms For Liberty as being “at the forefront” of “ramped-up and coordinated hard-right attacks” against inclusion in schools.
“Galvanizing supporters around supposed ‘parental rights’ and ‘family values’ is nothing new — similar rallying cries were adopted by those who opposed school desegregation during the civil rights movement and by the Moral Majority of the 1980s,” they wrote. “These political slogans have been used repeatedly because they are effective, framing the organizing of far-right activists as something done solely out of real concern for children.”
SPLC’s list of hate and extremist groups includes different ideological categories. The organization labeled Moms For Liberty an “antigovernment” extremist group while noting it has advocated for abolishing the Department of Education and has spread conspiracy theories, “hateful imagery” and “rhetoric against the LGBTQ community.” SPLC’s page dedicated to Moms For Liberty featured a series of quotes from the group including some that suggested gender nonconforming people are confused or mentally ill.
On their Facebook broadcast, Descovich and Justice rejected the notion they could be “antigovernment” due to their involvement in school board elections. They also attacked the SPLC.
“I see some people are talking and saying Southern Poverty Law Center is a terrorist network organization,” Justice said, adding, “I would tend to agree with that we should ask that they are designated as that.”
Descovich also objected to being included on a list that also has neo-Nazi and KKK organizations.
“People for some reason take Southern Poverty Law Center seriously,” she said. “I went to Southern Poverty Law Center’s website last night and I was looking at the other extremists and hate groups and, like, number one on there is some really dark scary-looking guy … and he’s got Nazi flags and I think he was doing a ‘Heil Hitler’ sign. And I was like, ‘Yeah, that guy looks terrifying.’ I believe he’s probably a really bad dude. I have no idea. We can’t trust their judgment.”
As they railed against the SPLC and raised funds off of their plight, Justice and Descovich also noted the recognition and support they have received from Republican presidential candidates. Justice said she was spending Wednesday in New Hampshire, where she will be participating in a town hall with longshot White House hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy. The pair also touted a national summit the group is set to hold in Philadelphia at the end of the month with appearances from Ramaswamy as well as former President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
“I hope this is the first step to Moms For Liberty being able to help presidential candidates really reach parents,” Justice said. “Education is a priority. Parental rights is a priority. We’ve got four presidential candidates coming to the summit to speak.”