UPDATE: Vice Chair Rahn returned CTR’s request for comment soon after publication. Her comments have been added.
The ties between the Colorado Republican Party and FEC United, a far-right conspiracy group that includes a militia division, are still going strong. The recent revelation that state GOP chair Kristi Burton Brown previously served as president of the extremist group that has promoted numerous conspiracy theories hasn’t dissuaded the party from sending one of its top officials to headline FEC United events twice in the past month.
Vice-Chair Priscilla Rahn spoke to FEC United’s Denver chapter yesterday evening, giving a speech called “Unpacking CRT” that purports to explain Critical Race Theory. She gave the same speech to the group’s El Paso County chapter Oct. 19.
CRT is a graduate-school-level theory that addresses racial bias and injustice throughout the American legal system. Over the past year conservative media has transformed it into talking point encompassing any and all efforts to address history, race and social justice in K-12 schools.
Rahn’s speech falsely equates CRT with Marxism and “Cancel Culture” with concentration camps. Rahn has given this talk to other conservative groups before. The Colorado Times Recorder reported and fact-checked a slide from the same presentation she gave in Larimer County this past July.
Her decision to share this FEC United and its militia division, the United American Defense Force, is notable considering that both FEC and UADF are organizing members to attend local school board meetings and voice objections not only to public health regulations such as mask requirements but also to curriculum.
Last month a Colorado Springs District 20 spokesperson noted that other attendees of its Oct. 21 board meeting complained that UADF members were combative and intimidating. The group issued a similar call to action for a Douglas Conty School Board meeting the following week. Though more visible recently, FEC/UADF organizing to “pack school board meetings” has been going on for months. Militia members wearing UADF attire attended a Cherry Creek School Board meeting in July.
Thursday evening, Rahn dismissed CRT as merely a theory of “brainiacs” at universities. She went to recount her school’s staff meeting immediately after Jan. 6 insurrection, mocking her principal’s decision to hold an emergency meeting about the storming of the U.S. Capitol as hypocritical since there hadn’t been a similar call following the George Floyd protests in May 2020 that included clashes between activists and law enforcement.
“This is a theory,” said Rahn. “All of these brainiacs, these universities, coming up with theories- it is not the truth! The theory is not the truth! The theory is not fact right? But it’s the only thing that they’re teaching! They’re not teaching teachers and students any other oppositional thoughts. They’re not creating- they’re not creating safe spaces for conservative thought. So I created my own space in faculty meetings, and we have these meetings and they’re telling me what I’m supposed to believe. And I just go, ‘No CRT is Marxist!’ And you should see the faces. But I think.
“So I don’t want to get too political but I’m just going to give a quick example on the day after January 6. We all got e-mail, as teachers: ‘We have to have an emergency faculty meeting!’ And there was all this emotion, blah blah. So my principal said, ‘Does anybody have anything they want to say?’ And that’s a big mistake, for me! And I said, Yes, I have something to say. ‘This meeting is hypocritical! And when BLM was destroying Denver and killing people and destroying businesses, we never had an emergency meeting to talk about how that was bad. And the faces were like, “Are you OK?’ I was like, “I’m fine.” I just- Don’t create a narrative in my mind as a black BIPOC, when I see BLM going from city to city destroying other black business. It’s not. I mean, you know what I’m saying? I can’t make sense of that it’s not OK. So any time I see violence of any sort, I’m like, that’s not right.”
Reached for comment, Rahn noted that as a teacher and a woman of color she is passionate about this issue and is willing to talk to any group that invited her to speak about CRT. She does’t want her message about the dangers of CRT to be lost because of whom she spoke to.
“Being new to this position, I’m trying to build relationships with people and groups- I talk to everybody, or at least I try to,” said Rahn. “As a woman of color who’s a full-time teacher, I’ve been asked to talk often about schools and CRT by many different groups. I go where I’m invited. So it hurt me to be associated with something some people consider negative.” My goal of speaking to that organization wasn’t to go into what they’re deciding to do as Americans, but to provide information about CRT that was factual and not emotionally based.
I have students from all over the world with varying political and religious beliefs. I love them and teach them without discrimination. It’s the same approach I have taken when asked to speak/teach outside of school. My approach is to educate and allow for discourse…to equip people with information so that they can become better problem solvers. I’m speaking as a black educator with 28 years of teaching experience. My father grew up during segregation and I am a descendent of enslaved people. Rather than children growing up to be more inclusive, and anti-racist we are seeing more segregation, more racism, more intolerance and more fear with an ideology that has caused more damage than good. Discrimination doesn’t fix discrimination and you shouldn’t compel a teacher/student to affirm, repeat or believe any idea that violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
FEC United founder Joe Oltmann was unable to attend the meeting.
Besides Rahn’s speech, the evening largely consisted of calls for attendees to join up as paid members.
Oltmass was in San Antonio, speaking at Clay Clark’s Reawaken America Tour, a QAnon-linked conspiracy conference that also promotes the Big Lie. Other speakers include former National Security Advisor and QAnon promoter Mike Flynn, podcast host Ann Vandersteel, and Trump attorney Jenna Ellis.