It’s not shocking at this point in the Trump administration to see unqualified candidates, or those who disagree with the mission of their own department, appointed to critically important government positions.
The list of these types of appointments is long: Ben Carson (who once said he’s unqualified to run a federal agency) for head of Housing and Urban Development; Betsy DeVos (who has no experience with teaching or public education) for education secretary; Rick Perry for energy secretary (who once said in a debate that he wanted to abolish that department and who misunderstood the main tasks of an energy secretary); and Scott Pruitt, climate change denialist, to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Just to name a few.
However, the Trump Administration may have outdone itself with its latest appointment.
Betsy DeVos has hired attorney Candice Jackson (who has limited experience in civil rights law) to be acting head of her department’s Office of Civil Rights. She will be leading a full-time staff of 550, in charge of investigating thousands of civil rights cases. Her position does not require Senate confirmation.
Jackson is best known for her opposition to programs aimed at helping students of color, for her claims of being discriminated against because she is white, for her disapproval of feminism, and finally, for calling the women who came forward to accuse Donald Trump of sexual assault “fake victims.”
Jackson has a long history of hating the Clintons and helped bring Bill Clinton’s accusers to the presidential debate in October. After law school, she worked for Judicial Watch, a conservative “watchdog” group that has sued the Clintons again and again since the 1990s. (It was described by the New York Times as “the indefatigable Clinton adversary that has probably done more than any other individual or organization to create the narrative that Mrs. Clinton is still battling: that she is untrustworthy.”)
Jackson published a book in 2005 called Their Lives: The Women Targeted by the Clinton Machine. In the book, she is critical of liberals’ overemphasis on assisting women and minorities. She wrote that current laws about sexual harassment do not address “the reality that unwanted sexual advances are difficult to define.” Furthermore, she worried that these laws might cause men to “self-censor themselves to avoid being accused of sexual harassment.”
In October, she worked with Steve Bannon and other Trump campaign members to stage the appearance of Bill Clinton’s past accusers in the audience at the Clinton-Trump presidential debate. She traveled with the women, sat with them at the debate, and held a press conference for them.
In a statement of breathtaking hypocrisy, she then called the women accusing Trump of sexual assault and harassment “fake victims” who were lying for “political gain.” On Facebook, she wrote “evidence is piling up that shows these recent accusers against Trump are, frankly, fake victims. Falsely painting yourself as a victim is not only horribly unfair to the person wrongly accused; it’s also an insult to real abuse victims.” Meanwhile, part of Jackson’s duties will be to oversee Title IX and sexual assault cases at colleges and universities.
Right before the presidential debate, according to ProPublica, she founded the Their Lives Foundation. In the registration documents for the foundation, she wrote that one of its missions was “giving public voice to victims of women who abuse positions of power.” (Unfortunately, she did not specify that she might have only meant accusers of Democratic politicians.)
She has been a fierce opponent of affirmative action and other race-based assistance to minorities. Previously, she has written about her support for an economist who described the 1964 Civil Rights Act as “monstrous” and who did not support the idea of public education. She herself wrote an article calling the Civil Rights Act “discriminatory.” She wrote op-eds in college about her belief that she had been discriminated against because she was white.
She’s not a fan of feminism either. In her own writing, she has condemned feminism. In a senior year article for the Stanford Review, she wrote: “In today’s society, women have the same opportunities as men to advance their careers, raise families, and pursue their personal goals. College women who insist on banding together by gender to fight for their rights are moving backwards, not forwards.” She also wrote that “I think many women are instinctively conservative, but are guided into the folds of feminism before discovering the conservative community.”
Does this sound like the track record of a woman who should be leading the Office of Civil Rights?
She was described in New York Magazine as a woman with “two decades of distinguished service to the cause of undermining the mission of the office she will now run.” She’ll fit right in with the rest of the Trump administration.