It’s happening: Biden’s Treasury nominees meet with leaders of activist groups that support defunding police

WASHINGTON, DC — Former Vice President Joe Biden’s designees for the U.S. Treasury positions both met with activist groups, including Black Lives Matter, which seek to defund the police.

Janet Yellen is Biden’s pick for the Treasury Secretary position, and Wally Adeyemo is the choice for Deputy Treasury Secretary.

On Dec. 14, the Biden-Harris transition team confirmed in a press release that Biden’s designees for the Treasury positions met with racial and economic justice organization leaders earlier in the day.

According to the press release, available at buildbackbetter.gov, Yellen and Adeyemo met with the following people and listed their titles and organizations:

Dorian Warren, Co-President, Community Change; Rashad Robinson, President, Color of Change; David Clunie, Executive Director, Black Economic Alliance; Felicia Wong, President and CEO, Roosevelt Institute; Heather McGhee, Board Chair, Color of Change; Sabeel Rahman, President, Demos; Thea Lee, President, Economic Policy Institute; Lorella Praeli, President, Community Change Action; Maurice Mitchell,  National Director, Working Families Party; and Alicia Garza, Founder, Black to the Future Fund.

The press release did not mention that Garza is also a co-founder of Black Lives Matter or that her other organization, accurately called Black Futures Lab, is “a fiscally sponsored project of the Chinese Progressive Association.”

A few of these groups use the ActBlue platform to receive donations only for Democratic and progressive candidates, committees, organizations and nonprofits. According to the company, contributions made through ActBlue are not considered political action committee (PAC) donations:

“Under the law, contributions made through ActBlue are not considered PAC donations. While ActBlue is organized as a political committee, we act as a conduit for individual contributions made through our platform — we do not make contributions ourselves. We process and send grassroots donations to the campaigns and organizations that use our fundraising platform.”

The Biden-Harris transition team press release stated:

“In their first joint meeting as Treasury Secretary-designee and Deputy Treasury Secretary-designee, Janet Yellen and Wally Adeyemo hosted a virtual roundtable with racial and economic justice leaders Monday afternoon.

 “Yellen and Adeyemo reaffirmed their commitment to placing racial equity at the center of the economic recovery, focusing on the households, businesses and communities hardest hit by the pandemic, and to pursuing economic policies that address the long-term, systemic and structural issues that have led to the racial wealth gap and economic disparities that exist today.

 “They discussed joint priorities including infusing equity into policymaking and leveraging the full powers and authorities of the Treasury Department to counteract the legacy impact of systemic racism; and building an economy that works for everyone.

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 “Yellen and Adeyemo shared their vision to enhance Treasury’s focus on racial and economic equity, and to cement that focus within the structure, culture and operations of the entire Department.

 “They also expressed their desire to make this an ongoing partnership with regular dialogue, and thanked these leaders for offering their support and advice, and for their commitment to helping translate the President-elect’s policies to the millions of Americans they represent, and share with the administration what they are hearing and seeing from their constituents on the ground.”

 The meeting was held despite Biden and other Democrats recently criticizing the term “defund the police” and blaming the phrase for hurting their party politically.

Last week, The Intercept obtained a leaked, two-hour virtual meeting of Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris speaking with a group of civil rights leaders. No one from Black Lives Matter was invited to participate in this meeting, and the group expressed displeasure about being excluded in a Dec. 9 tweet:

“Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Rep. Cedric Richmond met with several civil rights groups yesterday.

 “@blklivesmatter—as the largest social and justice movement in history—was not invited.”

The meeting also excluded Black Church PAC, a liberal organization of black church leaders who have demanded Biden name more people of color to his cabinet. The group worked to win votes for Biden during its “Souls to the Polls” effort.

During the virtual meeting, Biden complained that Republicans were defining the Democratic Party as being in favor of defunding police. As a result, according to Biden, Republicans won big in the election:

“That’s how they [Republicans] beat the living hell out of us across the country, saying that we’re talking about defunding the police. We’re not. We’re talking about holding them accountable.

 “We’re talking about giving them money to do the right things. … We’re talking about spending money to enable them to do their jobs better, not with more force, with less force and more understanding.”

Former President Barack Obama told Snapchat host Peter Hamby earlier this month that “defund the police” sounds “snappy,” but there is a drawback:

“You lost a big audience the minute you say it.”

 Obama also said:

“[It] makes it a lot less likely that you’re actually going to get the changes you want done.

“The key is deciding, do you want to actually get something done, or do you want to feel good among the people you already agree with?”

House Majority Whip James Clyburn, the highest ranking Black member of Congress, told NBC News last month that the slogan “defund the police” hurt Democratic candidates in the election:

“These headlines can kill a political effort.”

Prior to meeting with Yellen and Adeyemo, Alicia Garza disagreed that “defund the police” is negative. In an interview, she said:

“What I want to hear from former President Barack Obama if he’s going to use his vast platform for these conversations, what I want to hear from President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, is: what are you going to do? And that’s what we haven’t heard amid all this hoopla about ‘defund the police.’”

While Biden has clarified that he does not support completely defunding the police, he has promised to increase police oversight and accountability by installing a national police oversight commission in the first 100 days of his presidency, according to Fox News.

Garza suggested to Politico that supporters of “defund the police” were being used:

“This movement, which really helped to push [Biden’s] campaign over the finish line, was used as a political football all throughout this election cycle and that was true in 2016 as well.

“There’s a lot of valuable airspace that was used to be condescending to the very people who have opened the imagination of what this country can be — and how we can get closer to the promise that this country has offered to so many.”

Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, who described herself as “a trained Marxist,” let Biden and Harris know what her expectations were in a Nov. 7 letter she sent to both of them.

In part, Cullors wrote:

“We want something for our vote.

 “We want to be heard and our agenda to be prioritized. We issue these expectations not just because black people are the most consistent and reliable voters for Democrats, but also because black people are truly living in crisis in a nation that was built on our subjugation.”

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Author: G. Weg

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