The 2016 Committee, a Super PAC which raised over $5 million for Ben Carson in the first half of 2015 alone, dropped in to visit an international conference of one of the most extreme anti-LGBT groups on the planet.
A Human Rights Campaign staffer provided The Daily Beast with a picture of the World Congress of Families partner booths, all of which were set up at Tuesday’s event. Toward the bottom of the list is “Ben Carson The 2016 Committee.”
“What we know for sure is that they were a sponsor,” a staffer for the Human Rights Campaign told The Daily Beast.
The speakers at the international event included Theresa Okafor, who once compared the LGBT movement to Boko Haram, Archpriest Dmitri Smirnov, who refers to gay people as “homosexualists,” and Eric Teetsel, who espouses the belief that God has sent the LGBT movement to inform the world about the impending End Times.
“Well, it’s obviously very, very troubling to see,” the HRC staffer said. “There’s no question that the speakers here are focused on exporting anti-LGBT rhetoric. That’s really, really troubling.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center distinguished WCF as a hate group in 2014, before this recent ninth summit, which marks the first time the shadowy organization has held its annual convention on American soil.
Author Scott Lively, a kind of Ernest Hemingway of the anti-LGBT literary scene (he wrote a novel called The Pink Swastika, which alleges that gay people caused the Holocaust), is also closely associated with WCF and frequently traveled to Uganda to spread the news that LGBT people are at fault for the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide and the spread of HIV/AIDS. He directly advised sponsors of Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill, which was later struck down as unconstitutional.
World Congress of Families is infamous for drafting Russia’s 2013 anti-LGBT law banning “homosexual propaganda,” which criminalized giving out information about LGBT rights among minors. At the time, WCF executive director Larry Jacobs said the law was “a great idea.”
In 2009, the organization wrote a letter opposing President Obama’s decision to sign a UN “Homosexual Special Rights” statement that was meant to decriminalize homosexuality worldwide.
“Signing the U.N. homosexual rights statement is very much in keeping with this administration’s anti-family and anti-faith actions so far,” Jacobs said at the time.
After the summit yesterday, WCF also sponsored a meet and greet with Rafael Cruz, Senator Ted Cruz’s father, who railed against the Boy Scouts ending its ban on gay youth, saying it would lead to “increased risk that our children would be exposed to sexual predators.”
The 2016 Committee has not responded to a request for comment from The Daily Beast. Larry Jacobs has not gotten back either.