CREW is suing the Department of Homeland Security for failing to respond to record requests that would explain former-DHS Advisor for Policy Katharine Gorka’s involvement in revoking grants combating white supremacy and white nationalism.
Before joining the government, Gorka was a contributing author of Breitbart, a website favored by white nationalists and white supremacists. While Gorka was a DHS official, DHS focused almost exclusively on combating Islamic extremism while reducing or eliminating funding of programs to combat white supremacy. DHS even reportedly considered renaming the DHS Countering Violent Task Force to “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism.”
On January 13, 2017, then-DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson announced DHS was funding 31 proposals that would support local efforts to counter violent extremism. Shortly after Trump became president, then-DHS Secretary John Kelly ordered a review of the DHS Countering Violent Extremism Task Force. Only two of the 31 proposals selected were aimed at countering white nationalist groups, and neither grant was ever dispersed. When DHS published a new list of CVE Task Force award recipients in June 2017, neither of the two organizations countering white nationalist groups were included. In essence, DHS revoked the only two CVE grants intended to counter white supremacist groups.
On August 18, 2017, CREW sent a FOIA to DHS requesting comprehensive communications between Gorka, Kelly, and other DHS officials, including those relating to the review of CVE grants. Nearly two years later on June 23, 2019, CREW received a response from DHS. However, the records were alarmingly inadequate and incomplete.
Access to these records is essential to explaining why in the wake of Charlottesville DHS stopped funding efforts to combat white supremacy and white nationalists.