The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

The FAIR Files: Working With the Pioneer Fund

By Heidi Beirich on May 12, 2010 - 7:55 am, Posted in Anti-Black, Anti-Immigrant

During the heated debate leading up to the 1994 vote on California’s Proposition 187, a punishing anti-immigrant ordinance that would have denied social services to undocumented immigrants had it not been rejected by the courts, an embarrassing truth about the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) was revealed. Press reports disclosed that FAIR, a major backer of Prop 187, was also a major grant recipient of the Pioneer Fund, a racist organization established by Nazi sympathizers in the 1930s to pursue “race betterment.”

As of that year, FAIR had received a total about $1.2 million from Pioneer, which primarily funds race and IQ studies intended to reveal the inferiority of minorities and to this day describes its grant recipients, generally, as “race realists.” Perhaps the press furor would have died down if FAIR had decided to sever its relationship with Pioneer after the fund’s nature was exposed. But it chose not to.

Instead, FAIR, working hand in glove with Pioneer officials, moved rapidly to try to tamp down the criticism and protect its lucrative relationship with the foundation. This is revealed in previously unexplored archival files that FAIR has lodged in George Washington University’s Gelman Library Special Collections.

Writing on FAIR letterhead, Dan Stein — then the organization’s executive director, and today its president — drafted a chummy March 16, 1994, note addressed to “Harry,” meaning Harry Weyher, who was Pioneer’s president at the time, suggesting a course of action. (Weyher also was a well-known academic racist who had publicly opposed desegregation.) “Enclosed is a proposed piece for your consideration,” the note read. “I hope it lays out the case satisfactorily. If not, let me know and we’ll beef it up to your satisfaction. Thanks for this opportunity. Best Regards, Dan.”

Attached to the note for Weyher’s consideration was a two-page proposed statement entitled “Why the Pioneer Fund Supports the Immigration Reform Movement” that was written as if in the first person by Weyher. It said that Weyher’s interest in FAIR came from reading two books. The first was by John Tanton, the original founder of FAIR and much of the modern nativist movement, Rethinking Immigration Policy. The second was Illegal Immigration and the New Reform Movement, by Otis Graham, a close colleague of Tanton’s who was board chairman of FAIR in the early 1980s before Tanton installed him as head of the related Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) in the mid-1980s. (Graham is still on CIS’s board.) The draft statement argued that “the two monographs got us thinking about the public policy implications of [immigration] … and ultimately, the [Pioneer] Trustees made the decision that research and education on immigration would be a beneficial and worthwhile application for a Pioneer Fund grant.” It added that FAIR went about its work “responsibly, ethically, and intelligently” and applauded the “excellence” of FAIR’s staff. “We are pleased and proud that through financial support, we’ve made FAIR’s important work possible,” the statement concluded.

For some months after the Pioneer story broke, FAIR remained an aggressive defender of Pioneer. The Gelman documents include a Sept. 9, 1994, letter to Richard Woodward and his pro-immigrant organization “Taxpayers Against 187” claiming that the group was defaming the Pioneer Fund as it distributed information about Pioneer’s grants to FAIR. Written by attorney William W. Chip, who today serves on FAIR’s board of advisors, the letter warns: “Your portrayal of the Pioneer Fund as a ‘white supremacist’ organization is also based on fabrications.” In fact, part of the original 1937 mandate of the Pioneer Fund was to promote the genetic stock of those “deemed to be descended predominantly from white persons who settled in the original thirteen states prior to the adoption of the Constitution.” Much more recently, Pioneer has funded racist publications like American Renaissance, whose editor wrote in 2005 that “when blacks are left entirely to their own devices, Western civilization — any kind of civilization — disappears.”

But the Chip letter does show some reticence about being too closely linked to Pioneer, at least in public. Chip also warns Taxpayers Against 187 that it is defaming FAIR by suggesting that “FAIR has a ‘fundamental relationship’ with the Pioneer Fund and is ‘bankrolled’ by the Pioneer Fund.”

FAIR ended its financial relationship with Pioneer, which as a foundation must publicly disclose recipients of its grants, in 1994. But it did not end the private relationship of top FAIR officials with leaders of the fund. An SPLC review of John Tanton’s private papers, which are stored at the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, shows how close the relationship between the leaders of Pioneer and FAIR principals has been for three decades, even in the wake of the 1994 scandal. Not only did Tanton carry on a close correspondence with Weyher and his partner at Pioneer, John Trevor Jr., he also visited both at their homes. (In one instance, he took his staffer Roy Beck, who now runs NumbersUSA, to visit Trevor in Florida.) And at a 1997 gathering organized by Tanton at the New York Racquet & Tennis Club — three years after FAIR had stopped taking Pioneer Fund money — Tanton brought FAIR board members Henry Buhl, Sharon Barnes and Alan Weeden to a meeting with Weyher. Held expressly to discuss fundraising efforts to benefit FAIR, the meeting was memorialized in a Feb. 17, 1997, memo that Tanton wrote for his “FAIR Fund-Raising File.” A year later, on Jan. 5, 1998, Tanton wrote to Trevor to thank him for his personal “handsome contribution” to FAIR.

The Southern Poverty Law Center lists FAIR as a hate group for reasons including its accepting of funds from the racist Pioneer Fund. Other reasons include Stein’s bigoted views, the participation of some of its officials in white supremacist groups, bigots on the board, and some of its television programming. For a brief summation of this reasoning, please go here.

  • beholder

    skinnyminny I hope you reminded your neighbor that the United States is not one of the countries on the UN honor roll:

  • skinnyminny

    BTW, I believe a lot of opposition to the U.N. was probably mentioned in rightwing circles in 2005, around the time there was a lot of talk about “people screwing up America.” A neighbor of mine, kept saying “we need to stop paying the U.N. and get out of it.” He (neighbor) was an avid Glen Beck fan, and Fox news viewer. At the time, Glen Beck was on CNN. The neighbor was a young white guy in his early twenties, originally from the south, no military background, and lived with his sister and her husband. I mention no military background, because this is kind of unusual to me when college is not substituted.

  • jeff


    you’d be popular with the homies in prison. you’d also have plenty of time to wonder why the governor of Louisiana, a Republican, has been requesting the aid of the federal government in cleaning up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. to you, such political activity must smack of socialism.

  • skinnyminny

    Hello Peter,

    Most of these people use podblanc

    here are others, if you haven’t already seen it,

    “Arizona Tea Party Puddin’ Heads; Plus, Russell Pearce says Joe Arpaio Won’t Run for Guv, Despite Business Journal Report”

    Rightwing radio station in Arizona KTAR 92.3

    Rightwing radio station in Los Angeles KFI640 AM – John and Ken show did live broadcast from Arizona asking people not to boycott, they have set up a new website to help support Arizona at John and Ken dot com also, this group has daily broadcast urging people to protest government workers salaries/benefits/retirement/ they used to have frequent guest of minutemen on their shows, now they are having lots of Anti-Tax shows complaining they are not paying taxes for this, they’re tired of rising taxes, and a host of other things. When ex-Sheriff Mike Carona of Orange County was has his trial, the defense attorneys asked the judge to put a gag-order on this show and/or to move the trial (change of venue) due to this show.

  • daemonesslisa

    You know what I like best about people’s attempts at creating “Second Republics”? Two things, actually:

    First, these fools ignore history; they lost the Civil War!

    And second, there’s an entire system in place ready to put down these kinds of jihadists should they even -attempt- anything!

    Fire away, losers!

  • Peter Blaise

    Earlier, Charles Yuditsdy wrote: “… Anyone who supports ANY right wing cause is a hate group according to the SLPC …”

    Peter Blaise responds: Charles, I think you misread the opening post above if you think it is about “anyone”. It is not. It is about Nazi-sympathizers, neo-Nazis, and white-supremacists. Can you kindly suggest “anyone” in the article who you think is inaccurately so characterized?

    But, Charles, speaking of hateful support for right win causes, I for one am researching the thrust and support of the new Tea Party organization who proclaim their alliance with Minuteman activities, as in the Tea Party’s recent mailer from Thu May 13 2010:

    “To HELL with the U.N. This is our land, we make the rules!” Minuteman Steve

    Not familiar with the new Minutemen? See:

    … for more information on modern self-labeled “Minutemen”. Is the new Tea Party org merely the current season’s outfit for last year’s hate groups gone out of fashion?

    Also listed in the new Tea Party org email are:

    — Dale Robertson, Founder/President

    — Tea Party org mailing web servers

    More? Who are these people, and what has been their history getting to this point?

    Charles, in trying to uncover the real motivations of these people, we are trying to bring the greatest amount of accurate information to everyone (read: informed citizens) so we can prevent history from repeating itself, especially the history of hate, Nazis, and white-supremacists.

    Charles, can you imagine creating a Second Republic that doesn’t look like a Fourth Reich? I can. Look to New Mexico if you want to understand creative, constructive immigrant policy alternatives to the hateful energies stirred up in Arizona by Nazi-sympathizers, neo-Nazis, and white-supremacists.

    (And Charles, thanks for the tease about expansive culture in Mexico — quite rich and complex! See and and
    and so on. Great reading — I had no idea! My, what a little bit of additional information can do for opening my mind — I must try this more often! Thank you, Charles.)

  • skinnyminny

    This is interesting because it seems all of these groups have an interest in, or a partnership in one another. Meanwhile, haven’t been hearing too much on IRLI (Immigration Reform Law Institute). However, I think there is much attention on Arizona’s new laws, but, there’s not much attention on who or what group is behind it.

  • Charles Yuditsdy

    Anyone who supports ANY right wing cause is a hate group according to the SLPC. Well we actually do hate you and will remove you through banishment from the country when we are able to establish a Second Republic. This is in the works now and will be implemented as soon as the current incompetant Federal Govt. is unable to carry out its basic tasks. Hope you like the cultural wonderland that is Mexico.

  • Peter Blaise

    Thank you.

    Now, please re-read and edit this and keep it unambiguously clear, with authoratative references.

    For instance, in the next to last paragraph, you mention for the first time in the article the word “scandal” as in “… the 1994 scandal …” without any prior specific reference or definition of any “scandal”.

    As a reader, do you want us to refer back to which of the three prior references to “1994” in the article, none of which are described as “scandals”.

    Help us out here.

    If you mean in 1994, that “… an embarrassing truth about the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) … was also a major grant recipient of the Pioneer Fund, a racist organization established by Nazi sympathizers in the 1930s to pursue “race betterment.” …” then call that a “scandal” at the first reference.

    Definitions of scandal on the Web:
    — disgraceful gossip about the private lives of other people
    — a disgraceful event

    Yet, I recommend that you do not use the word scandal at all — it’s unnecessarily incindiary and has arguable value — in the eye of the beholder, meaning something different to each reader, and some people might feel proud of their scandalous behavior, so it’s not a universal negative. Instead, be specific with your charges of who and what these people are.

    Thanks again.

    Keep up the incrediblly great work.

    Now it’s up to us to pass it on, and insert accurate references into places like Wikipedia for each organization listed:

    MISSING at Wikipedia are revealing articles on:

    — Otis Graham

    — Richard Woodward

    — William W. Chip

    — Henry Buhl

    — Sharon Barnes

    — Alan Weeden

    How about some of us readers here go to Wikipedia and other places and try to update the public reference, eh?

    Love and hugs,
    Peter Blaise dot com