A photo on the splash page for the Rule of Law Defense Fund shows Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry (second from right). The organization summoned “patriots” to Washington Wednesday to “call on Congress to stop the steal.” The rally ended with a violent mob storming the U.S. House and U.S. Senate chambers. (Screenshot)
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry belongs to an association that helped lead, finance and organize the right-wing rally on behalf of President Donald Trump that ended with a violent attack at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday. The Rule of Law Defense Fund, an affiliate of the Republican Attorneys General Association, for which Landry served as chairman, sent out a robocall message Tuesday encouraging “patriots like you (to) join us to continue to fight to protect the integrity of our election.”
The connection between the Rule of Law Defense Fund (RLDF), a 501(c)(4) arm of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), and Wednesday’s “March to Save America” rally was initially reported by Documented, a left-leaning website that describes itself as “a watchdog group that investigates how corporations manipulate public policy, harming our environment, communities, and democracy.” RAGA’s website highlights Landry as the 2020 chairman of their organization and a current member of their executive committee as of Friday. And in the federal tax filings for its corporate affiliate, Landry is listed as a co-director of the RLDF. Those tax documents, which were the most recent available to the public, were for the 2019 fiscal year.
10. New Leadership Takes the Helm – @RepublicanAGs elected a new slate of leaders, led by Chairman @AGJeffLandry and Vice-Chairman @ChrisCarr_Ga. The 2020 leadership team will focus on defending five incumbent races and expanding the majority. pic.twitter.com/gBuppNhPBu
— RAGA (@RepublicanAGs) January 1, 2020
As of Friday, Landry was prominently featured on the splash page of the organization’s website. The attorney general, who is typically vocal on social media as current events unfold, has been silent about Wednesday’s events. Other than clarifying that Landry was RAGA’s 2020 chairman, his office has not responded to questions regarding the details of this story.
Landry, a co-director of the Rule of Law Defense Fund (RLDF), was part of a video for the group in November and was elected chairman of RAGA in 2020.
Documented.net reports that the Rule of Law Defense Fund was listed as a featured participant of Wednesday’s event on the “March to Save America” website. The website was not visible later Thursday, but an archived version shows the RLDF was featured. RAGA is a 527 political action group that aims to elect Republican attorneys general and can accept unlimited contributions from wealthy individuals and corporations.
The RLDF used robocalls to recruit Trump supporters to attend Wednesday’s event:
“I’m calling for the Rule of Law Defense Fund with an important message,” Tuesday’s robocall, which was uploaded to Soundcloud.com, begins. “The March to Save America is tomorrow in Washington D.C. at the Ellipse in President’s Park between E St. and Constitution Avenue on the south side of the White House, with doors opening at 7:00 a.m. At 1:00 p.m., we will march to the Capitol building and call on Congress to stop the steal. We are hoping patriots like you will join us to continue to fight to protect the integrity of our election. For more information, visit MarchtoSaveAmerica.com. This call is paid for and authorized by the Rule of Law Defense Fund, (202) 796-5838.”
Kelly Laco, spokesperson for both RAGA and RLDF, sent the Illuminator a statement Friday that condemned the violence but did not mention President Donald Trump’s part in the events. She included comments from RAGA Executive Director Adam Piper, who claimed neither organization participated in planning the rally, but neither Piper nor Laco would explain the RLDF robocall nor the RLDF’s name featured on the rally’s website.
In his statement, Piper said the RLDF staff’s decision to “amplify a colleague” who spoke at the event was not authorized to do so by any attorneys general.
Laco included a link to a web page that included comments of condemnation from 15 of the RLDF’s 25 attorneys general. None of them mentioned Trump nor acknowledged Joe Biden’s status as president-elect. Landry did not contribute any comments.
On its website, the Rule of Law Defense Fund describes itself as “the public policy organization for issues relevant to the nation’s conservative attorneys general. RLDF promotes the rule of law, federalism, and freedom in a civil society. RLDF was created in 2014 to provide a forum for conservative attorneys general and their staff to study, discuss, and engage on important legal policy issues affecting the states.”
The organization’s 2017 fiscal-year tax document lists Landry as a director on page 7. It was filed at the end of 2018 and is the most recently available tax return that could be found for the organization. It is not known if Landry remains a director. The document shows the fund has pulled in roughly a million dollars each year, using more than $300,000 to pay RAGA salaries and the rest going mostly to travel, research, and conferences and meetings.
On the list of sponsors for the March to Save America, according to the archived version of its website, RLDF was included alongside groups such as Stop the Steal and Turning Point Action, an extremist group that made headlines last year for building troll-farms and spreading misinformation until its accounts were locked by Facebook and Twitter.
Documented.net notes that RLDF previously spearheaded a “Lawless Liberals” campaign that warned of “lawless liberal mobs” burning down buildings and committing violence in the aftermath of what were largely peaceful protests against the killing of a Black man, George Floyd, by White police officers in Minneapolis.
Five people died from Wednesday’s attack. One woman was shot by police as she tried forcing her way into the Capitol, and a Capitol police officer died after suffering fatal injuries in the riot, according to Metro Police. Three others died of causes that have yet to be reported.
♣ Editor Jarvis DeBerry contributed to this report.
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