Gianforte appoints right-wing conspiracy theorist to Humanities Montana Board

By: - May 17, 2023 2:10 pm

The Office of the Governor in the Montana State Capitol in Helena on Wednesday, April 26, 2023. (Photo by Mike Clark for the Daily Montanan)

Gov. Greg Gianforte appointed a political writer who espoused white supremacist conspiracy theories and denied the existence of transgender people, including Rep. Zooey Zephyr, D-Missoula, to serve on the Humanities Montana Board.

Jeremy Carl is a senior fellow at the right-wing Claremont Institute based in California and was appointed to the Humanities Montana Board in November.

According to Carl’s biography on the Claremont Institute website, he received a bachelor’s degree with distinction from Yale University and a Master of Public Administration degree from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Carl previously served as U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior under former President Donald Trump and worked as a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

He has contributed to Claremont’s website with posts endorsing the “Great Replacement Theory,” which the Southern Poverty Law Center explains as “stoking fears that a non-white population, which the theory’s proponents characterize as ‘inferior,’ will displace a white majority.”

Carl did not agree to an on-the-record interview with the Daily Montanan and said in an email exchange that he did not have much to add outside of a statement he recently gave to HuffPost.

Jeremy Carl (Photo courtesy of the Claremont Institute)

“I joined the board of Humanities Montana because I care about the growth and quality of the humanities in Montana,” Carl said in the statement.

“Unfortunately, the organization does not have a democratically accountable governance structure and has thus historically been controlled by the far left, which is totally unrepresentative of Montana, but which feels, as they do everywhere, that they ‘own’ the humanities, and that dissenting voices and perspectives, including those of conservative Republicans like me, cannot be allowed.”

Humanities Montana Board Chairperson David Dietrich said the board did not have any input in the decision for the appointment. The governor gets to select 25% of the board, currently three members, who don’t need Senate confirmation. Dietrich said Carl attended their one meeting since his appointment with a voice as one of 18 existing members.

The Humanities Montana website said Carl was appointed in November of 2022. Gianforte’s office did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

However, in his statement to the HuffPost, Carl said he would not be bullied by liberals.

“This intolerant leftist attitude, hardly unique to Montana, has led to a tragic decline in relevance and prestige of the humanities throughout the country,” he said. “The far-left’s hysterical and hilarious campaign to silence and intimidate me will backfire badly.”

Outside of his political writing, Carl is most known for energy policy. The Hoover Institution says his “academic writing on reforming California’s energy bureaucracy was praised by a bipartisan coalition of former California governors.”

E&E News reported in 2016 Carl said he advised several Republican presidential primary candidates on how to discuss climate change, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ben Carson and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. He encouraged them to focus on critiquing Democrats’ proposals and “not get drawn into these scientific debates.”

Carl also previously wrote a piece defending Kyle Rittenhouse, who fatally shot two people during a Black Lives Matter protest in Wisconsin, as reported by HuffPost.

More recently, Carl authored posts disparaging San Francisco’s reparations plan and denying the existence of transgender people, tweeting the existence of Zephyr, the first transgender woman legislator who was censured from the House during the 2023 legislative session, was a “marketing and PR fantasy.”

“In essentializing femaleness into a puerile performance, the ‘transgender woman’ playacts an elaborate and insulting stereotype—but he does not change his sex. Can anyone picture a more pathetic caricature of womanhood, or girlhood, than Dylan Mulvaney?” Carl said in a post published April 18.

Mulvaney, a transgender woman who has documented her transition online, was recently the target of right-wing backlash after she posted a promotional video featuring beer sent to her by Bud Light on social media.

“Whether the recent explosion of transgender identification is the result of a pornography fetish, social contagion, generalized gender dysphoria, or something else entirely, transgender performance is recognized by all those not in the grip of gender ideology as somewhere between demonic and laughable,” Carl continued in the post.

Board Chairperson Dietrich, an attorney in Billings, said in the interview Carl has attended one board meeting so far, and the organization welcomes views across the political spectrum.

“We expect our board members to be professional and to not be intolerant and abusive of any of any group, any marginalized group,” Dietrich said. “We also recognize that our board members have their own private political views and we don’t police our board members in terms of what their individual views are.

“However, to the extent that they seek to invoke Humanities Montana in the context of their own political views, that is something that we won’t tolerate. Jeremy has not done that to his credit.”

Dietrich also referenced the statement Carl gave to HuffPost about his appointment wherein he said the organization has “historically been controlled by the far left,” saying this conclusion was rooted in speculation, and something Dietrich said he told Carl he staunchly disagrees with.

“We are non-partisan, capital ‘N’ non-partisan,” Dietrich said.

Dietrich explained the organization’s main purpose is being a facilitator of federal funds to various projects and organizations, with applicants that include tribes and counties across the state. He said the organization has a deep connection to the literary community, as the organization’s mission is to serve communities through stories and conversation.

Its website says the organization offers “experiences that nurture imagination and ideas by speaking to Montanans’ diverse history, literature, and philosophy.”

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Nicole Girten
Nicole Girten

Nicole Girten is a reporter for the Daily Montanan. She previously worked at the Great Falls Tribune as a government watchdog reporter. She holds a degree from Florida State University and a Master of Science from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.