The ties between Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar and a Christian faith-based organisation that once accused Satanists of recruiting children through Pokémon and Harry Potter has drawn media attention a decade after they first made headlines.
An archived list of the projects Amy Klobuchar had sought money for, unearthed by The Intercept on Wednesday, shows that the senator requested a $500,000 earmark for Know the Truth, an anti-drug programme targeting teenagers in Minnesota, for fiscal year 2009.
Earmarks were an old-school practice of including individual provisions in spending bills, modifying them in a way that directed the federal funds to specific projects, typically in the constituency of the lawmaker seeking one. Earmarks for for-profits were banned in 2010, and the practice was eliminated altogether the following year in a bid to limit wasteful spending.
Know the Truth is a programme of the Minnesota chapter of Teen Challenge (now Adult & Teen Challenge). Adult & Teen Challenge is a non-profit network of rehabilitation centres that helps people treat drug and alcohol addictions. As part of its mission, Teen Challenge is “empowering, educating, and equipping the local centres”. The Minnesota division is operated by the Assemblies of God, a Pentecostal Christian denomination.
Incidentally, a brochure by Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge dated 2009 (archived version available here) claimed that Halloween “is a day totally set up for Satan” and that the games of Pokémon and Dungeons and Dragons, as well as Harry Potter fantasy books, have “real demonic spells included”.
Additionally, Teen Challenge’s application form at that time listed “homosexuality” among the problems the applicant might be facing, along with gambling and drug addiction.
LGBTQ Nation news outlet picked up the Intercept’s piece hours after it was published. All the more surprising is the fact that the story is apparently based on a 2009 article in the Huffington Post, which contains dead links to the same documents to which the Intercept found the cached web pages.
It’s unclear whether the House Appropriations Committee actually endorsed Klobuchar’s earmark. Know the Truth did not clarify whether it received the money but described itself in a statement to the Intercept as a “secular, evidence-based programme focused on preventing teen substance use.”
Unlike the so-called ‘progressive’ likes of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden, the three top-polling Democratic presidential candidates, Klobuchar positions herself as a moderate and opposes government-funded health insurance for all Americans as well as tuition-free college.
The 59-year-old senator has a mixed record on LGBT issues: she has criticised Donald Trump's policies banning transgender people from the military, but initially favoured civil unions over full same-sex marriages.
At 3 percent in national polling, Klobuchar remains on the fringes of the presidential race, and the story may further damage her election chances among the Democratic voters.