WASHINGTON – Yesterday, Representative Bruce Westerman (AR-04) and more than 170 Republican colleagues sent a letter led by Rep. Scott Franklin (FL-15) to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas demanding answers from the Department of Homeland Security regarding the establishment of its Disinformation Governance Board.
In their letter, the signatories outlined three primary concerns with creation of the Board. First, they expressed ethical concerns about an organization charged with securing the homeland engaging in activities that could impact speech. Second, the members pointed out Department is overstepping its authority as a domestically focused organization by creating a board that would distract from its existing missions—especially during the ongoing border crisis. Third, the members highlighted their alarm with the appointment of Nina Jankowicz, a self-proclaimed “internationally-recognized expert on disinformation” to head up the board.  They expressed concern with Ms. Jankowicz’s questionable judgment on matters of disinformation and freedom of speech.  For these reasons, the signatories requested DHS to respond to the following questions thirty days from the date of receipt of this letter.
Under what legal authority is DHS creating this Disinformation Governance Board?
What is the Board’s specific directive and mission? What authorities will it have under the Department?
How does this Board help DHS protect the homeland from threats? Why is DHS putting valuable resources toward a mission that it appears to have no equity in when there is an ongoing crisis at our southern border?
Why was Ms. Jankowicz chosen to head this Board? Who were the other candidates considered for this position? What qualifications and vetting procedures did the Department utilize when determining who would head up the Disinformation Governance Board?
“Secretary Mayorkas should be ashamed of his blatant attempt to undermine our Constitution while ignoring his responsibility to keep Americans safe by securing our Southern Border,” said Rep. Westerman. “Mayorkas’ truth ‘experts’ have no right to police the speech of our citizens and Americans will not tolerate such an obvious infringement of their rights.”
“The creation of this Disinformation Governance Board is an alarming attempt by the Biden administration to use the Department as a political tool,” said Rep. Franklin. “DHS has no business determining what is and is not disinformation. This ‘Ministry of Truth’ will undermine the public’s confidence in the Department’s mission to protect the homeland and will tarnish its reputation. This is especially concerning as Americans continue to suffer a drug epidemic and have safety concerns with DHS’s failure to properly secure our border.”
“The Biden administration should have no role in policing Americans’ free speech,” said Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. “It is even more outlandish that the agency he has chosen to spearhead this ‘disinformation’ board has not only failed at their primary responsibility of securing the border, but they regularly mislead the public by alleging the border has been ‘effectively managed’ by the administration. Censorship runs counter to our country’s values, and I am proud to stand alongside my Republican colleagues in demanding accountability and answers on President Biden’s Orwellian ‘Ministry of Truth.’ It is un-American and should be immediately disbanded.”
“The Biden Administration’s ‘Ministry of Truth’ is about expanding government control and censoring speech that challenges Democrats’ far-left agenda,” said House Republican Whip Steve Scalise. “This Soviet-style ‘Disinformation Governance Board’ would fall under the Department of Homeland Security and Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who demonstrated a total disregard for the truth when he told Members of Congress that the Biden administration had ‘effectively managed’ the crisis at the southern border. Creating a misinformation board to police speech and silence opposing views is un-American. I am proud to partner with Congressman Scott Franklin and strike back against President Biden’s radical assault on the First Amendment and free speech.”
“DHS is more concerned with cracking down on free speech than securing our southern border,” said Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik. “As the Biden administration takes one more step towards Communism by creating a Disinformation Governance Board, I am proud to stand up to Secretary Mayorkas’ attack on Americans’ constitutional right to free speech.”
“Our freedom of speech is the right which defends all others, and government distortion places that freedom in jeopardy,” said Rep. Tom Emmer. “We cannot allow the Biden administration to be the arbiter of the First Amendment.”
“Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas claimed the Biden administration has ‘effectively managed’ the crisis on our southern border, but nothing is further from the truth,” said Republican Conference Secretary Richard Hudson. “Rather than creating a Disinformation Governance Board and promoting a partisan bureaucrat as its director, DHS should be focused on securing our border and protecting our citizens.”
“The Biden administration identified concerned school parents as domestic terrorists,” said Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Banks. “There’s no doubt that their new ‘Disinformation Governance Board’ is part of the White House’s ongoing effort to criminalize President Trump, his supporters and anyone who disagrees with the left. Joe Biden is the most anti-First Amendment president in American history. Rather than targeting American citizens for their political beliefs and censoring their speech, Secretary Mayorkas should focus on protecting our nation from the increasing flow of drugs and crime pouring across our southern border.”
The full text of the letter can be found here.
Co-signers of the letter include: Reps. Kevin McCarthy (CA-23), Steve Scalise (LA-01), Elise Stefanik (NY-21), Tom Emmer (MN-06), Mike Johnson (LA-04), Richard Hudson (NC-08), Gary Palmer (AL-06), Jim Banks (IN-03), Doug Lamborn (CO-05), Yvette Herrell (NM-02), Barry Loudermilk (GA-11), Thomas Massie (KY-04), Michael Cloud (TX-27), Brett Guthrie (KY-02), Lauren Boebert (CO-03), Vicky Hartzler (MO-04), John R. Moolenaar (MI-04), Robert J. Wittman (VA-01), Bill Posey (FL-08), David McKinley, P.E. (WV-01), Ralph Norman (SC-05), August Pfluger (TX-11), Maria Elvira Salazar (FL-27), Lisa McClain (MI-10), W. Gregory Steube (FL-17), Clay Higgins (LA-03), Randy Weber (TX-14), Nancy Mace (SC-01), Gus Bilirakis (FL-12), Rick Crawford (AR-01), Tom McClintock (CA-04), Ted Budd (NC-13), Greg Murphy (NC-03), Jackie Walorski (IN-02), Chuck Fleischmann (TN-03), Jack Bergman (MI-01), Billy Long (MO-07), Fred Keller (PA-12), Stephanie Bice (OK-05), Bob Gibbs (OH-07), Rodney Davis (IL-13), Andy Barr (KY-06), Dan Bishop (NC-09), Madison Cawthorn (NC-11), Jefferson Van Drew (NJ-02), Jeff Duncan (SC-03), Ron Estes (KS-04), Scott DesJarlais (TN-04), Vern Buchanan (FL-16), Glenn Grothman (WI-06), Barry Moore (AL-02), Diana Harshbarger (TN-01), Jody Hice (GA-10), Mike Simpson (ID-02), Brad Wenstrup (OH-02), Andy Biggs (AZ-05), Markwayne Mullin (OK-02), Warren Davidson (OH-08), Pete Stauber (MN-08), Russ Fulcher (ID-01), Ronny L. Jackson (TX-13), Jay Obernolte (CA-08), Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14), Glenn “GT” Thompson (PA-15), Byron Donalds (FL-19), Jake Ellzey (TX-06), John Joyce (PA-13), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Austin Scott (GA-08), Mary E. Miller (IL-15), Tracey Mann (KS-01), Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (GA-01), Thomas P. Tiffany (WI-07), Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (TX-26), Jake LaTurner (KS-02), Darin LaHood (IL-18), Ken Buck (CO-04), Mike Carey (OH-15), Kevin Hern (OK-01), Dan Meuser (PA-09), Scott Perry (PA-10), Ben Cline (VA-06), Pete Sessions (TX-17), William R. Timmons IV (SC-04), Beth Van Duyne (TX-24), Scott Fitzgerald (WI-05), Carol D. Miller (WV-03), Robert E. Latta (OH-05), Daniel Webster (FL-11), James R. Baird (IN-04), Joe Wilson (SC-02), Bill Johnson (OH-06), Ken Calvert (CA-42), Matt Gaetz (FL-01), Kat Cammack (FL-03), Carlos A. Gimenez (FL-26), Mike Bost (IL-12), Brian Mast (FL-18), Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04), H. Morgan Griffith (VA-09), Mark Amodei (NV-02), Trent Kelly (MS-01), Rick W. Allen (GA-12), Alex X. Mooney (WV-02), Lance Gooden (TX-05), Jodey C. Arrington (TX-19), Michelle Fischbach (MN-07), Steven M. Palazzo (MS-04), John H. Rutherford (FL-04), Troy E. Nehls (TX-22), Bryan Steil (WI-01), Adrian Smith (NE-03), Roger Williams (TX-25), Dusty Johnson (SD-At Large), Chris Jacobs (NY-27), Neal P. Dunn, M.D. (FL-02), Michael Waltz (FL-06), Randy Feenstra (IA-04), Tim Walberg (MI-07), Mariannette Miller-Meeks, M.D. (IA-02), Matt Rosendale (MT-At Large), Julia Letlow (LA-05), Bob Good (VA-05), Larry Bucshon, M.D. (IN-08), Jim Jordan (OH-04), Garret Graves (LA-06), Patrick McHenry (NC-10), Mo Brooks (AL-05), Dan Crenshaw (TX-02), Darrell Issa (CA-50), Tim Burchett (TN-02), Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), Bill Huizenga (MI-02), Greg Pence (IN-06), David G. Valadao (CA-21), Blake Moore (UT-01), Michelle Steel (CA-48), French Hill (AR-02), Troy Balderson (OH-12), David Kustoff (TN-08), Robert B. Aderholt (AL-04), Claudia Tenney (NY-22), Pat Fallon (TX-04), Drew Ferguson (GA-03), Ashley Hinson (IA-01), Debbie Lesko (AZ-08), Jason Smith (MO-08), Tony Gonzales (TX-23), John Katko (NY-24), David P. Joyce (OH-14), Nicole Malliotakis (NY-11), Mike Gallagher (WI-08), Victoria Spartz (IN-05), Michael Guest (MS-03), Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-03), David Schweikert (AZ-06), Young Kim (CA-39), Dan Newhouse (WA-04), Andrew R. Garbarino (NY-02), Kevin Brady (TX-08), Mark E. Green, M.D. (TN-07), Trey Hollingsworth (IN-09), Cliff Bentz (OR-02), Mike Garcia (CA-25), Van Taylor (TX-03), Frank D. Lucas (OK-03), Lee Zeldin (NY-01), Brian Babin, D.D.S. (TX-36), Burgess Owens (UT-04), Michael T. McCaul (TX-10), Virginia Foxx (NC-05), Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03), and Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25).
On April 27th, DHS announced the creation of its Disinformation Governance Board, led by Jankowicz, who previously worked as a fellow at the Wilson Center. According to a DHS Fact Sheet, the Department is “focused on disinformation that threatens the security of the American people, including disinformation spread by foreign states such as Russia, China, and Iran, or other adversaries such as transnational criminal organizations and human smuggling organizations.” DHS’s primary mission sets are countering terrorism, securing the border, securing cyberspace and infrastructure, upholding economic security, strengthening resilience, and strengthening DHS itself. These mission sets are generally domestically focused. Historically speaking, U.S. government disinformation efforts have been an international focus undertaken by the State Department’s Global Engagement Center and members of the intelligence community.