House Republicans Press Treasury Department for Suspicious Bank Records of Campus Protest Organizations

House Republicans Press Treasury Department for Suspicious Bank Records of Campus Protest Organizations
Pro-Palestinian student protestors camp at Columbia University campus in New York on April 30, 2024. (Mary Altaffer/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

The Republican-led House Oversight and Education Committees have called on the U.S. Treasury Department to reveal any suspicious financial activity involving nearly two dozen groups involved in ongoing protests on college campuses over the war in the Gaza Strip.

“The Committees are investigating the sources of funding and financing for groups who are organizing, leading, and participating in pro-Hamas, antisemitic, anti-Israel, and anti-American protests with illegal encampments on American college campuses,” Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) and Education Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) wrote in a Tuesday letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

“This investigation relates both to malign influence on college campuses and to the national security implications of such influence on faculty and student organizations,” the two Republican committee chairs added.

Mr. Comer and Ms. Foxx called for Ms. Yellen and the Treasury Department to turn over any suspicious activity reports (SARs) that banks may have generated in connection with the financial activities of 20 different groups they identified as being involved in the ongoing protest events. Their list of organizations includes:

  1. Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP);
  2. Jewish Voice for Peace;
  3. Within Our Lifetime;
  4. American Muslims for Palestine (AMP);
  5. IfNotNow;
  6. Open Society Foundations;
  7. Rockefeller Brothers Fund;
  8. Tides Foundation;
  9. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation;
  10. Solidaire Action;
  11. Libra Foundation;
  12. Westchester Peace Action Committee Foundation;
  13. Muslim Community Network;
  14. Council on American-Islamic Relations;
  15. Center for Popular Democracy;
  16. Peace Action New York State;
  17. People’s Forum;
  18. Samidoun;
  19. Adalah Justice Project;
  20. Palestine Legal.

Comer Says Protests Don’t Appear ‘Organic’

Several groups of activists have set up encampments at college campuses and even taken over university buildings as part of their demonstrations. Complaints have also emerged of activists harassing people, including Jewish and Israeli students and faculty, amid the campus protests.

“The antisemitic and illegal protest encampments occupying colleges across the country are disturbing and appear to be anything but organic. Reports now indicate multiple leftist organizations are leading efforts to fund and encourage these hateful and unlawful encampments,” Mr. Comer said Tuesday.

The Oversight Committee chairman said he and Ms. Foxx’s committees plan to “follow the money trail” and “expose these radical groups funding this hate to the American people.”

“It’s no coincidence that the day after the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack, antisemitic mobs began springing up at college campuses across the country,” Ms. Foxx added. “These protests have been coordinated and well organized, indicating that outside groups or influences may be at play. American education is under attack.”

Ms. Foxx said the ongoing campus protests are “tearing apart our institutions,” and it’s important that Congress reveals how the groups are being funded “before it’s too late.”

The Republican lawmakers gave Ms. Yellen and the Treasury Department until May 28 to provide the requested SAR records.

American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) told NTD News in an emailed statement that the group stands by the free speech activities of activists on college campuses and elsewhere, and asserted they have operated within the their legal rights.

“As we have stated many times, AMP looks forward to demonstrating in any jurisdiction that it operates wholly within the laws of the United States, compliant with all laws and regulations governing U.S. nonprofit entities,” AMP spokesperson Christina Jump wrote. “AMP operates completely within the United States, raises funds completely within the United States, and utilizes those donations completely within the United States to support its mission of educating American Muslims and the American public on the rich history and culture of Palestine.”

NTD News reached out to the other organizations named in Mr. Comer and Ms. Foxx’s letter, but did not receive any additional responses by press time.

NTD News also reached out for comment from the Treasury Department but they did not respond by press time.

Lawmakers Raise Pressure for Protest Organizers, Universities

Ms. Foxx and the Republican-controlled House Education and Workforce Committee have pressed universities throughout the country to account for how they’re dealing with the contentious atmosphere on their campuses. Her committee hosted the presidents of Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) at a Dec. 5 hearing, during which the university officials drew bipartisan condemnation for their comments about how their respective universities would handle calls for genocide against Jews.

In February, Ms. Foxx subpoenaed three Harvard officials for records about that university’s handling of complaints of antisemitic harassment.

Last month, Ms. Foxx called the emergence of a pro-Palestinian encampment at Columbia University an “unacceptable” development and called on university officials to “restore order and safety without further delay.”

Mr. Comer and Ms. Foxx’s call for the Treasury Department to turn over any SARs concerning the 20 pro-Palestinian protest groups comes just days after 16 Republican U.S. Senators called on Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Daniel Werfel to investigate the tax-exempt status of some of the same groups that have engaged with and organized these campus protest events. Those Republican senators argued these groups may be raising money or otherwise taking actions benefiting terrorist organizations, which could serve as a basis for stripping them of their preferential tax status.

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