Chamber: Leandri Did Nothing Wrong In Posting Alleged Hate Group Event
The Back Mountain Chamber announced Monday its executive director did nothing wrong by posting an announcement for an event by an alleged hate group to its official calendar.
Executive Director Bill Leandri came under fire last week for posting a speaking engagement by Brigitte Gabriel, founder of the group ACT for America. The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League characterize ACT for America as an anti-Muslim hate group.
At the time he made the post, Leandri was the local chapter head for ACT for America, but has since resigned from that post.
In a statement released late Monday afternoon, the chamber said it does not “endorse or condemn any organization” and did not plan to do so in reference to ACT for America.
“The Board has determined that its executive director acted within existing (chamber) protocol on the posting,” the chamber said in a prepared statement. “As a result of this incident, the (chamber) will develop and implement a new policy, with respect to such postings in the future.”
James V. Reino Jr., chairman of the committee appointed to investigate Leandri, said the committee determined that the existing policy governing internet posts to the chamber’s website was not strict enough.
“We’re going to strengthen the wording behind it so there’s a formal procedure that multiple people have to inspect what comes in,” Reino said. “The post was made, but it wasn’t vetted correctly before it went on. As soon as it was discovered that it was not a local event, which is what our intentions are for that site, it was removed.”
Leandri did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
The event Leandri listed on the calendar was titled “Rise in Defense of Freedom” and promised to have Gabriel throwing “political correctness out the window in a no holds barred speech on immigration, the left’s culture war, and radical Islam.”
Gabriel, a Lebanese-born Christian, has come under fire for her anti-Islam views, including comments that a practicing Muslim “cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America” and that “every practicing Muslim is a radical Muslim.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center characterizes ACT for America as a hate group, alleging it “pushes wild anti-Muslim conspiracy theories.”
The Anti-Defamation League similarly alleges the group is intent on restricting Muslims’ religious freedom by “propagating the conspiracy theory that Muslim Americans are trying to impose Sharia Law in the United States.”
ACT for America has pushed back against such characterizations, describing the notion it is a hate group as being “beyond absurd.” The group alleges the SPLC targets the group and other conservative organizations as part of a fundraising campaign.
“The SPLC traffics in smears against those they disagree with them politically, in order to raise money off their far-left donor base,” a spokesman told The Citizens’ Voice last week. “The SPLC’s smears are not only exclusive to those on the right, but anyone who dares to stray from their politically correct world view. ... It’s a sad state of affairs, but the SPLC has lost all credibility on the subject of hate.”
Contact the writer: