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CAIR: Ted Cruz’s Tenn. Campaign Chair Smears Muslim Appointee, Senator’s Rep Calls It ‘Defending American Law’

CAIR logo(WASHINGTON, D.C., 6/12/15) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, today rejected a bizarre claim by Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign that his Tennessee chair was “defending American law†when he smeared a Muslim woman state government appointee.

On Monday, CAIR urged Cruz to remove Kevin Kookogey as campaign chairman for Tennessee because of his longstanding support for anti-Muslim and Islamophobic causes.

In 2012, as chairman of the Williamson County Republican Party, Kookogey oversaw the adoption of a resolution condemning Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam for appointing a Muslim lawyer to the state's Department of Economic and Community Development.

The resolution stated in part:
“Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has elevated and/or afford preferential political status to Sharia adherents in Tennessee, thereby aiding and abetting the advancement of an ideology and doctrine which is wholly incompatible with the Constitution of the United States and the Tennessee Constitution.”

This week, Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier supported Kookogey’s anti-Muslim resolution as “defending American law under the U.S. Constitution” and said she could not see how it “is anti-Muslim.â€

“It is ridiculous that Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign is seeking to morph a hate-filled attack on a young Muslim woman appointee to position in state government into ‘defending American law,’†said CAIR Government Affairs Manager Robert McCaw. “The Cruz campaign has pointedly avoided explaining why it endorses Kevin Kookogey’s attack on a person because of her religion and how that attack qualifies as defending the Constitution.â€
McCaw questioned whether the Republican senator and his presidential campaign believe that the mere act of being Muslim is a threat to America. CAIR views the Cruz campaign’s support of the resolution as an endorsement of anti-Muslim hate rhetoric.

In March, CAIR called on Cruz to cancel his appearance at a “New England Freedom Conference” event hosted by a group with ties to white supremacists and other anti-Muslim speakers including Robert Spencer, the co-founder of Stop Islamization of America (SIOA). SIOA has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Cruz attended the event.

Two weeks prior to the March conference, Cruz joined Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) at an event sponsored by Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy, a key group in the U.S. Islamophobia network. Gaffney's conspiracy theories regarding Muslim infiltration of all aspects of American life are so overblown that he was banned from attending the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2011 after accusing its top leadership of being infiltrated by Islamists.

Gaffney was recently caught on video suggesting that all American Muslim doctors are potential “jihadists.â€

In March, CAIR also joined a coalition of leading American Muslim civil liberties, human rights, faith, and cultural organizations in a letter to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and his Right to Rise PAC requesting that Jordan Sekulow be removed from his position as senior advisor to the PAC because of his long history of supporting anti-Muslim legislation.

In January, CAIR issued an open letter to potential Republican presidential candidates urging them to reject Islamophobia and to reach out to American Muslim voters.

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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CONTACT: CAIR Government Affairs Manager Robert McCaw, 202-742-6448, rmccaw@cair.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, ihooper@cair.com

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