You never want a serious crisis to go to waste, apparently.
Progressive activist and Women's March co-organizer Linda Sarsour is under fire this week for sharing a misleading pitch for Hurricane Harvey relief funds. This particular controversy begins with a tweet.
The Palestinian-American left-wing activist published the following message early Tuesday morning: "Donate to the #Harvey Hurricane Relief Fund."
Her note links to a fundraising webpage maintained by the Texas Organizing Project Education Fund. This organization is not exactly in the disaster relief business. Rather, the TOP is an activist organization, whose chief focus is advancing political goals through elections.
The group uses "community organizing, and civic and electoral engagement" and it "conducts direct action organizing, grassroots lobbying and electoral organizing," according to its webpage. "With every campaign we run, every issue we fight for and every neighborhood we organize, we focus on creating effective ways to ensure that voices of low income and minority communities are not only heard, but that they have sufficient power to advance their issues."
Now as to their hurricane relief fund webpage, which is sponsored by multiple left-wing and labor groups, including the Service Employees International Union, the Communication Workers of America, Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid and the Workers Defense Project: The TOP promises that donations will be used to organize and raise awareness and legal aid for displaced Houstonians.
"Together we will organize and advocate for our devastated communities, shining a spotlight on inequalities that emerge in the restoration of lives, livelihoods, and homes, amplifying the needs of hard-hit communities, and providing legal assistance for residents wrongfully denied government support," reads the Texas Organizing Project Education Fund's hurricane relief page, which allows user to donate anywhere between $20 and $10,000.
"Your donation is vital to ensuring that we have the resources we need to organize and fight for Texans devastated by Hurricane Harvey!" the page added.
Many have characterized Sarsour's relief fund tweet as a form of bait-and-switch. Who can blame them? If someone tweets, "Donate to the #Harvey Hurricane Relief Fund," you're not crazy for assuming they are asking you to help pay for immediate humanitarian aid, not to pay activists to organize or raise awareness.
That said, it's worth mentioning that the TOP has a record of assisting hurricane victims in low-income and minority communities, as noted by the Weekly Standard's Andrew Egger.
"After Hurricane Ike hit Houston in 2008, the group lobbied the government to ensure that federal reconstruction funds would go toward helping repair the homes of low-income residents," he wrote.
Sarsour, for her part, maintained Wednesday that she did not mislead anyone, explaining that she was merely sharing a list of "dozens of [organizations] to support" that had been provided to her by other activists, some of whom explicitly oppose the Red Cross' relief efforts.
"Long term support/advocacy needed too," she added on social media. "TOP is one of many organizations on this list you can choose to support. Grassroots orgs on ground. Long term needed."
Her explanation is a clear admission that she's aware that the fund to which she directed her followers doesn't provide immediate humanitarian relief to the hurricane's victims, and that the supposed "relief funds" will come in the form of community organizing and possible future legal aid.
She should have provided that information to her 230,000-plus followers from the get-go, and there's no good reason for why she didn't. It's almost as if she wanted to mislead well-intentioned people. But no one would be that ghoulish, right?
Sarsour did not respond to the Washington Examiner's request for comment.