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Witherspoon Scholar Was ‘Paid Consultant’ On Parenting Study

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Mark Regnerus said the conservative organization that funded his study played ‘no role’ in the research. New evidence calls that claim into question.

When University of Texas professor Mark Regnerus released a study this summer portraying gay parents in a negative light, he insisted that the conservative funders who backed the research had no involvement in how it was designed, implemented, or interpreted.

But recently emerging evidence shows that a scholar affiliated at the time with the Witherspoon Institute — the socially conservative think tank that supplied the bulk of Regnerus’ funding — did indeed play a role carrying out and analyzing the study.

In his peer-reviewed article, Regnerus said his research revealed different — and often unfavorable — outcomes for children of gay parents when compared to children raised by a mother and father in biologically intact families. Opponents of gay marriage immediately seized Regnerus’ initial findings from the ongoing “New Family Structures Study,” published in the July issue of Social Science Research. The study has been cited in court briefs to defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act and by a federal judge in a decision upholding Hawaii’s ban on same-sex marriage. Opponents of marriage equality have also used it in state-level ballot-measure campaigns.

Right away, Regnerus’ findings sparked a backlash, as critics said his study was methodologically flawed. Many have argued that Regnerus’ actual comparisons — children raised in households with two biological parents compared to children raised in families where one parent had a same-sex relationship at some point, regardless of whether the child lived with that parent — did not correspond with his conclusions.

The research has also provoked questions, especially from gay-rights advocates, about whether the Witherspoon Institute – some of whose leaders have ties to the National Organization for Marriage and other groups that advocate against gay marriage – influenced the study’s design. Both Regnerus and Witherspoon have denied this charge.

It turns out that from 2010 to 2012, one of the study’s paid consultants was William Bradford Wilcox. For much of that time, Wilcox was also the director of Witherspoon’s “Program on Family, Marriage, and Democracy,” the program from which Regnerus’ study was born.

Much of the new evidence regarding Wilcox’s involvement was unearthed by New Civil Rights Movement blogger Scott Rose.

Wilcox is a conservative scholar and associate professor of sociology at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, where since 2009 he has directed the National Marriage Project, whose stated mission is “to provide research and analysis on the health of marriage in America, to analyze the social and cultural forces shaping contemporary marriage, and to identify strategies to increase marital quality and stability.” Among his many affiliations, Wilcox is on the Board of Advisory Editors of Social Science Research, which published Regnerus’ study.

Up until Oct. 2, the Witherspoon Institute’s website identified Wilcox as the director of the Witherspoon’s Program on Family, Marriage, and Democracy (referred to in this case as the “Program on Marriage, Family, and Democracy.”) That link is now defunct. The Witherspoon’s tax form from 2010 describes the launch of the “New Family Structures Study” as one of the year’s main achievements of the Program on Family, Marriage, and Democracy.

Back in June, Rose filed a complaint with the University of Texas, accusing Regnerus of scientific misconduct concerning his study. As a matter of protocol, the university conducted an initial investigation and concluded in late August that “no formal investigation is warranted.” The university used that investigation as a reason for not disclosing to The American Independent any documents related to the Regnerus’ study. Now that the investigation is over, the university is trying to prevent disclosure by arguing that the information related to the study is proprietary.

In response to a public records request from Rose for communications between Regnerus and Wilcox concerning the study, the university’s counsel asked Texas’ attorney general to allow the university to withhold those documents. Rose provided TAI with a copy of the letter, which says that “Professors Regnerus and Wilcox collaborated on the data collection and analysis that formed the basis of Dr. Regnerus’s publication” on the New Family Structures Study.

The responsive documents include email exchanges between the University’s Professor Mark Regnerus and a colleague, W. Bradford Wilcox, from the University of Virginia (TAB 6). The communications pertain to scientific research conducted by Dr. Regnerus and published in his New Family Structures Study. Professors Regnerus and Wilcox collaborated on the data collection and analysis that formed the basis of Dr. Regnerus’s publication, thus, their communications reveal substantive analytical and scientific data that is protected from disclosure under Section 51.914,Texas Education Code. To release this information would facilitate third party appropriation of Dr. Regnerus’s intellectual property.

In an employment authorization form obtained by TAI from the University of Texas, Wilcox’s role in Regnerus’ project is described this way: “Dr. Brad Wilcox will provide consulting work for Dr. Mark Regnerus on his New Family Structure Study. He will be assisting with data analysis. This is sporadic work throughout the spring semester and summer.” Rose has also reported on this form.

The form, dated April 24, 2012, indicates that Wilcox was to be paid $2,000 for his services from April through August, 2012, and notes that Wilcox has “worked with Dr. Regnerus on data analysis and structure in the past.”

‘Provided input to Professor Mark Regnerus’

From the beginning, Regnerus and the Witherspoon Institute have said Witherspoon had nothing to do with how the study was designed or implemented — other than providing roughly $700,000 for Regnerus to carry out the work.

In his initial article on his findings, Regnerus wrote: “The NFSS was supported in part by grants from the Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation. While both of these are commonly known for their support of conservative causes—just as other private foundations are known for supporting more liberal causes—the funding sources played no role at all in the design or conduct of the study, the analyses, the interpretations of the data, or in the preparation of this manuscript.”

And the Witherspoon Institute, on its website promoting the study, states: “In order to insure that the NFSS was conducted with intellectual integrity, beginning from the earliest stages the Witherspoon Institute was not involved in the Study’s design, implementation, or interpretation.”

Wilcox, Regnerus, and the Witherspoon Institute have all stood by previous statements that the Witherspoon was never involved in how Regnerus’ study was designed or implemented.

Witherspoon President Luis Tellez told TAI in an email exchange this week that Wilcox was a fellow for Witherspoon from 2004 until the summer or fall of 2011 but that Wilcox was never a staff member at Witherspoon. Tellez confirmed that Wilcox served as the director of the Witherspoon’s Program on Family, Marriage, and Democracy, while the New Family Structure Study was being developed, but he said Wilcox exited that position “when the NFSS was entering the period of implementation i.e. the survey was about to be fielded.”

“In his capacity of director of the program in Family, Marriage and Democracy Prof. Wilcox offered advice and assistance in various family related events or projects that the Witherspoon Institute decided to undertake,” Tellez said. “Never did Prof. Wilcox represent in any way the Witherspoon Institute when dealing with other scholars or the public. Prof. Wilcox, like any other fellow of the Institute, never was involved in the decision making of the Witherspoon Institute. More specifically, he was never involved in any decision making at the Witherspoon Institute in matters related to the New Family Structure Study.”

According to Tellez, Wilcox did not advise the Witherspoon Institute on matters relating to “the scope of the study, how it is to be conducted and how to interpret the results.”

But Wilcox was involved in the process that led to the study’s creation, Tellez said.

“His role was to help assemble an initial group of scholars, Mark Regnerus included, out of which came the idea of the NFSS,” Tellez said.

Tellez said Wilcox did not use his role at Witherspoon to pressure Regnerus to conduct his study in any specific way.

“Wilcox participation in the NFSS was of course known to Witherspoon, at no point however he used his role in the NFSS or his connection to WI to convey any sentiments or wishes as to how the NFSS was being conducted or convey desired outcomes, etc.,” Tellez said. “The only sentiments that were conveyed, and this were conveyed primarily to Mark, was to be sure the study was conducted in the most professional manner, that scholars from the ideological spectrum be included, to respect the findings whatever they were, etc. I said primarily conveyed to Regnerus, but because I knew Wilcox longer and had confidence in his professional integrity, I would inquire with him occasionally as to whether this standards were being applied. Just to be sure all was well.”

After TAI questioned Wilcox about his roles at the Witherspoon Institute and as a paid consultant on the study, Wilcox published a blog post on FamilyScholars.org Tuesday night, which he said was in response to questions asked by fellow FamilyScholars blogger Barry Deutsch. In the post, Wilcox downplayed his title as Witherspoon’s director of the Program on Family, Marriage, and Democracy as “honorific.” He said that from October 2010 to April 2012, he “provided input to Professor Mark Regnerus about the design, analysis, and interpretation of the survey data associated with the NFSS,” but he emphasized that he did not make “funding or programmatic decisions at” Witherspoon. He also noted that he was among “a dozen paid academic consultants” who worked with Regnerus on the project.

“I viewed my consultation for the NFSS as collegial, that is, as providing academic advice that Regnerus was free to take or ignore (and he took some advice, and went his own way on other matters). I was not acting in an official Witherspoon capacity in relationship to him,” Wilcox wrote.

Regnerus also told TAI in a phone interview that he never viewed Wilcox as a “Witherspoon agent.”

“He never acted as a Witherspoon mouthpiece,” Regnerus said. “As a consultant he did not represent Witherspoon.”

Responding to Wilcox’s post, Deutsch wrote Wednesday that Wilcox’s dual role at the Witherspoon and as a paid consultant on the study should have been disclosed, and that the omission was deceptive.

“There is nothing unethical about Brad working with both NFSS and Witherspoon, in my opinion,” he wrote. “Brad is a known scholar with interests similar to those of Witherspoon and Professor Regnerus; it is natural that both the staff at Witherspoon and Professor Regnerus should seek his advice.”

But, he added: “In my opinion, Professor Regnerus’ carefully-crafted statement about his funding sources’ non-participation was deceptive. It omitted a relationship that was obviously relevant and should have been mentioned, and Regnerus’ choice to omit that, and the use of wording which gave the impression that there was unequivocally no relationship to report, calls his credibility into question.”

 

This article originally appeared at The American Independent and is republished here by permission.

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DOJ Signals It Is Conducting a Criminal Investigation of George Santos

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The U.S. Dept. of Justice Friday signaled it is conducting a criminal investigation of U.S. Rep. George Santos‘ campaign finances when it asked the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to pause its probe into the embattled New York freshman GOP lawmaker.

“The request is the clearest sign to date of an active criminal investigation examining the congressman’s campaign finances,” The Washington Post reports.

But NBC News goes one step further.

“Federal prosecutors in New York have opened an investigation into Rep.-elect George Santos, two law enforcement sources confirmed Thursday,” NBC states. “The probe by federal prosecutors from the Eastern District of New York is at least the second investigation into Santos.”

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“The two sources confirmed that prosecutors are examining Santos’ finances, including potential irregularities involving financial disclosures and loans he made to his campaign as he was running for Congress,” NBC adds.

The Santos campaign this week, according to The Daily Beast, amended FEC filings that originally claimed about $625,000 in “personal” loans from the candidate’s personal funds were actually not from the candidates personal funds. Santos has since refused to state where the money came from.

DOJ also asked the FEC for any “relevant documents” for the Santos’ campaign, The Post noted.

READ MORE: Watch: Santos Responds to Report He Joked About Hitler, ‘The Jews’ and Black People

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Watch: Nancy Pelosi Says ‘I Have Absolutely No Intention of Seeing the Deadly Assault on My Husband’s Life’

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U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) the former Speaker of the House, told reporters she has no intention of watching just-released video of the almost fatal, brutal attack on her 82-year old husband, allegedly by a hammer-wielding, far-right conspiracy theory promoting extremist.

DePape had “posted antisemitic screeds and entries defending former President Donald Trump and Ye, the rapper formally known as Kayne West who recently made antisemitic comments,” CBS News reported one day after the attack.

Earlier Friday, before the video had been released by a judge’s order, Rep. Pelosi said did not know if she would watch the video.

Later, Friday afternoon, Pelosi said she would not.

READ MORE: Pelosi Attack Video Release Leads to Criticism of Musk, Right Wingers Who ‘Trafficked in Homophobic Conspiracy Nonsense’

“As you know, today there was a release of some information. I have not heard the 911 call. I have not heard the confession. I have not seen the break-in, and I have absolutely no intention of seeing the deadly assault on my husband’s life.”

Prosecutors have described the attack as “near-fatal.”

She also thanked “people for all of their prayers,” and for “asking about the progress my husband is making, and he is making progress, but it will take more time.”

Apparently choking up, she added that she would not be making any more statements about this case as it proceeds, except again to thank people and inform them of Paul’s progress.”

Watch below or at this link.

 

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Pelosi Attack Video Release Leads to Criticism of Musk, Right Wingers Who ‘Trafficked in Homophobic Conspiracy Nonsense’

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News organizations won the release of police body cam video that shows the horrific moment when an intruder, “without warning or hesitation,” whacked Paul Pelosi, the 82-year old husband of the now-former Speaker of the House, with a hammer, knocking him unconscious and to the ground in a pool of blood, in what prosecutors called a “near-fatal” assault.

The alleged assailant is David DePape, a purveyor of far-right conspiracy theories, including QAnon and Pizzagate, COVID-19 disinformation, along with “Big Lie” videos from My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell. He is facing multiple state and federal charges.

Depape reportedly broke into the Pelosi home, screaming, “where’s Nancy?” which some including The Atlantic’s David A. Graham  have noted eerily echoes insurrectionists hunting for Nancy Pelosi on January 6, 2021, screaming, “Nancy! Nancy Pelosi!” “Where you at, Nancy?” “Where’s Nancy?”

From the moment news broke of the October 28, 2022 attack on the husband of the Speaker of the House, who told police he was there to violently attack Nancy Pelosi, those on the right, including Elon Musk, ex-president Donald Trump,  and other anti-Pelosi and pro-Trump activists, quickly suggested, implied, or even claimed Depape was Paul Pelosi’s boyfriend, or that it had somehow been an anonymous sexual tryst that went bad – despite no evidence.

READ MORE: Man Charged With Attacking Paul Pelosi Is a MAGA Cultist Who Said the Speaker Was Using ‘Fake Evidence to Spy On’ Trump

In the video, which should be watched only with extreme caution, police can be seen approaching the front door of the Pelosi home, the door opening, DePape holding Paul Pelosi by the wrist with one hand, and a hammer in the other. Within seconds he attacks Pelosi, who falls to the ground. Police take DePape down to the ground, and moaning can be heard, although it’s unclear if it is from Pelosi or his alleged assailant.

DePape told police he wanted to break Nancy Pelosi’s kneecaps and hold her hostage. Since she was across the country in D.C., he ended up fracturing her husband’s skull instead.

Despite the video, the far-right refuses to let go of its false claims about Paul Pelosi, which are hurtful not only to the Pelosi family, but to the LGBTQ community.

Just days after the almost deadly attack Donald Trump falsely claimed, “You know, probably, you and I are better off not talking about it. The glass, it seems, was broken from the inside to the out and, you know, so, it wasn’t a break in, it was a break out.”

Kara Swisher, the well-known tech journalist and opinion writer, blasted those who are ignoring the clear video evidence (not to mention the massive reporting) of the attack.

READ MORE: ‘Suicide Mission’: Pelosi Attacker Named ‘Prominent State and Federal Politicians’ He Wanted to Target

“All those who trafficked in homophobic conspiracy nonsense about this,” she wrote Friday on Twitter, “such as the owner of this increasingly shitty platform, should be ashamed,” Swisher said, referring to Elon Musk.

“They won’t be, but they are heinous & utterly lost,” she added, linking to a Washington Post article titled, “Judge releases evidence, video footage in attack on Pelosi.”

Indeed, two days after the attack, Elon Musk tweeted then later deleted the claim that “there is a tiny possibility there might be more to this story than meets the eye.” The Independent reported Musk, “attached a screenshot of a bogus report accusing Mr Pelosi of getting into a drunken fight with a male prostitute.”

Politico’s Sam Stein also highlighted Musk pushing the apparent falsehood: “The release of the Paul Pelosi video is a useful reminder that the owner of this here platform pushed conspiracy theories around the attack.”

Entrepreneur and programmer William LeGate, who won a Thiel fellowship at the age of 18, on Friday tweeted: “Now that the Paul Pelosi surveillance footage & 911 call have been made public, it’s time homophobic bigots like Elon Musk, Tucker Carlon, & the like to issue a public apology for spreading the ‘lover’s quarrel’ conspiracy theory.”

MSNBC executive producer Kyle Griffin made remarks similar to Swisher’s: “A lot of conservatives spread disgusting, nonsensical conspiracies about the Paul Pelosi attack — including Elon Musk. Some are still spreading them. Those people should be ashamed.”

Republican former U.S. Congressman Adam Kinzinger, linking to a Politico report on the release of the video, said, “Can we please dig up every persons tweet who made fun of this or cast doubt? This was a sick attack and politicians minimizing it suck.”

READ MORE: ‘Break Her Kneecaps’: Feds Charge Suspect Who Attacked Paul Pelosi as New Details on His Motivation Are Revealed

Salon’s Amanda Marcotte defended the release of the video with this explanation: “Seeing folks question why it was necessary to release the footage of the attack on Paul Pelosi, which is incredibly violent and disturbing. Well, a big reason is Republicans have treated the attempted murder as a joke.”

She linked to an article she wrote in early November titled, “After the Pelosi attack, Republicans have quit pretending they oppose political violence.”

Journalist and SiriusXM host Michelangelo Signorile also went after Republicans.

“The Paul Pelosi video — and the surveillance video — show the danger and brutality of the attacker,” he tweeted. “Every Republican who mocked this attack is filled with nothing but hate and bile.”

NCRM is embedding the video below, from The Associated Press. We caution watching the brutal video, which is longer than many others and includes the actual attack and the moments after. Again, we urge caution.

 

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