Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins has increasingly positioned himself as a Trump Administration insider in order to push his anti-LGBT agenda at the highest levels of government. (The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has designated FRC a hate group for its defamatory attacks against LGBT people).
Perkins recently boasted about visiting the White House more times in the first six months of 2017 than during the entire George W. Bush administration, has met with CIA director Mike Pompeo to discuss expanding chaplain services to CIA employees.
This access has paid off. Perkins has been credited with pushing the Trump administration to ban transgender people from serving in the military.
It was no surprise that Perkins felt the need to offer an unsolicited defense of former Department of Health and Human Service (DHHS) Secretary Tom Price’s use of charter jets and military aircraft that have cost more than $1 million; Price has been a longtime advocate of anti-LGBT policies.
On September 28 — the day before Price resigned — Perkins penned a lengthy defense of Price’s proclivity for private plane travel.
Perkins claimed that the controversy wasn’t about Price’s ethics — all of the charter flights had been approved by DHHS legal counsel — but a coordinated campaign by “the Left” to “stop [Price] from fulfilling the president's promises.”
If you believe that narrative, then Republicans were part of this conspiracy to take down Price.
The day before Perkins wrote his essay the Republican controlled House Oversight Committee launched an investigation into the Trump administration’s travel policies. And, Republican Senator Charles Grassley, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, wrote a letter to President Trump urging him to curtail the use of charter jets by all of his cabinet secretaries.
On September 29, the day after Perkins’ article went live, Price resigned.
The next day Perkins was given opportunity to discuss the Price scandal. Instead of backpedaling, he doubled down.
On the “Breitbart News Saturday” SiriusXM radio show, Perkins reiterated that the use of charter jets was completely kosher, erroneously claiming that “he didn’t do anything different than previous secretaries” (DHHS secretaries during the Obama administration only used charter planes to travel to places that were inaccessible, such as remote areas of Alaska).
Sounding like a criminal defense attorney, Perkins even chided Price for offering to repay the cost of the flights: “when he did that, it suggested that he had done something wrong.”
Later in the show, Perkins got conspiratorial, again.
Perkins suggested that Price took private jets because it was too dangerous for him to fly commercial: “it was done for security reasons because this administration is under constant threat.” Price had never said he avoided flying commercial for personal safety concerns but rather because of delays associated with commercial travel.
Perkins again argued that Price’s downfall had nothing to do with misusing taxpayer dollars, but the real story was a coordinated campaign “driven primarily by Planned Parenthood” to stop changes in Title X.
Even Breitbart readers didn’t see the Price scandal that way. One commenter wrote: “Don't know why anyone defended this clown. He's from the establishment and wasted our money taking a private plane from D.C. to Philadelphia.”
What are those “pro-family” goals? To choose just one example, Perkins and the FRC, have been conspicuously quiet about the Trump administration’s support for draconian cuts to Medicaid, a program in which over 40 percent of recipients are children. Instead, Perkins has chosen to use his White House access to push anti-LGBT policies, such as banning transgender soldiers from serving in the armed forces.
If Perkins needs the help of ethically compromised officials, what does that say about his agenda?