Griffin linked to alleged 'hate group'

Beth Griffin

PAW PAW — A state House candidate is being accused of belonging to an organization sometimes refered to as a hate group.

Mattawan Republican Beth Griffin, seeking the 66th District seat, was president of a chapter of ACT! for America, which was among the plaintiffs suing the city of Allegan and Allegan schools, according to Paw Paw resident Kathleen Murphy-Brown.

She termed ACT an anti-Muslim hate group.

The suit was signed by Elizabeth Griffin, according to Murphy-Brown, and when she asked Griffin directly, Griffin acknowledged it was her, Murphy-Brown told Van Buren County commissioners Tuesday.

“However, she hasn’t spoken about this to the voters,” Murphy-Brown said. “And I don’t think this is right.”

Murphy-Brown said she has a doctor who is Muslim as well as Muslim friends and students.

“They’re all good people,” Murphy-Brown said. She said she taught in Kalamzoo.

Griffin, vice chair of the Van Buren County Board of Commissioners, did not respond to Murphy-Brown during Tuesday’s board meeting. After the meeting Griffin declined to comment about the assertions, but did provide a press release with a statement by outgoing state Rep. Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton.

“This is just another fake scandal drummed up by the Democrats to try to cover for the fact that Annie Brown (the Democratic candidate) is afraid to talk about real policies,” Nesbitt wrote.

Listing Brown’s support of several programs, Nesbitt wrote, “Democrats will do and say anything to distract voters from those real issues and Annie Brown’s out-of-touch liberal record.”

According to newspaper reports, ACT! for America was one of the plaintiffs in suit against the city of Allegan, Allegan school officials and the Allegan Police Department in 2012. The story listed Elizabeth Griffin as president.

The suit stemmed from the police department shutting down a controversial speech by alleged former terrorist Kamal Saleem. The police chief had learned a group had allegedly put a $25 million bounty on Saleem. The chief shut it down on grounds the event posed a danger to participants, according to reports.

State Rep. David Agema sued the city, school officials, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the People for the American Way, alleging they’d violated the constitutional rights of speech organizers.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors right-wing extremist groups, calls ACT! for America “far and away the largest grassroots anti-Muslim group in America.”

ACT! for America bills itself on its website as “the NRA (National Rifle Association) of national security” and says it “educates citizens and elected officials to impact public policy and protect America from terrorism.”

The founder and current president is Brigette Gabriel, which the site calls “one of the leading national security experts in the world – providing information and analysis on the rise of Islamic terrorism.”

Murphy-Brown had been among about a half-dozen at a press conference by the Michigan Democratic Party in front of the courthouse while the county board meeting was going on.