Obscure Iowa non-profit produces new flyer calling Trump ‘trailblazer for trans’

Second flyer sent to households in state by mysterious political group seeks to portray former president as LGBTQ+ advocate

An obscure non-profit political group in Iowa that has been attempting to portray Donald Trump as an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community is doubling down on its unlikely claim, producing a second flyer condemning the former president for “fighting conservatives” over trans rights.

The mailer repeats the messaging from the original communication that the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for next year’s election is a “trailblazer for trans”.

The new missive, reported on Saturday by the Iowa political blog Bleeding Heartland, introduces a rainbow-colored heart to the mix, and says Trump “opposed conservative members of Congress when they tried to strip the US Mexico Canada agreement of language protecting sexual orientation and gender identity”.

Conversely, a 2019 analysis by the Yale law journal notes that the Trump administration, which it said was “hostile to transgender people”, had watered down such protections in the language of the agreement, but was unable to eliminate it entirely despite its best efforts.

The flyer was published by a group called Advancing Our Values, a Des Moines-based non-profit that registered with the secretary of state’s office only two weeks ago. Renewed efforts by the Guardian to reach the group were unsuccessful.

The fresh attack on Trump, which Bleeding Heartland said was sent as a mass mailing to an unknown number of households in Iowa, also states he “stood strong” against bathroom bills that deny access to toilets based on declared gender identity instead of that assigned at birth.

While Trump has delivered contradictory messages on LGBTQ+ rights, saying he was “fine” with same-sex marriage during the 2016 campaign then rolling back protections for transgender patients as president, and overruling his own education secretary in 2017 to rescind protections for trans students.

“It’s an odd piece of advertising,” David Peterson, a professor of political science at Iowa State University, told the Guardian after the first flyer was published.

The origins of Advancing Our Values are unknown, although its agenda would seem to align with those opposing Trump for the Republican nomination.

The campaign of rightwing Florida governor Ron DeSantis recently took down a “homophobic” video attacking Trump for his alleged support of trans rights, which he initially defended in the face of a wave of outrage.

According to the group’s incorporation papers posted online, it registered as a section 501(c)(4) non-profit – a status that allows it to “engage in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to candidates for public office” as long as its activity is not the main fundraising arm for any candidate’s campaign.

A person named Kyle Adema, of Nebraska, is listed as its chairperson. The Guardian was unable to reach Adema for comment.

The Bleeding Heartland blog, which has been researching the group, says it has “not found any link to operatives for … DeSantis”, but points out its objectives are the same: “To diminish support for Trump among potential Iowa Republican caucus-goers”.

According to the blog author Laura Belin: “Discrimination against transgender people is popular in GOP circles, and presidential candidates often receive applause or ovations in Iowa for rhetoric opposing inclusive policies.”


Richard Luscombe

The GuardianTramp

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