Arizona Democrats have specialty “In God We Trust” license plates in their legislative crosshairs because the proceeds partially benefit the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Proposed legislation by state Sen. Juan Mendez aims to stop the department of transportation from selling the plates due to ADF’s “hate group” designation by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

ADF, which is opposed to same-sex marriage, bills itself as a Christian organization seeking to protect “religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family.”

“State dollars should not be funding an organization that works to strip residents of our state of their human rights and human dignity,” Mr. Mendez told the Arizona Republic. “It’s appalling that we’ve already sent over a million dollars to this extremist hate group.”

Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Vice President of U.S. Legal Division Kristen Waggoner countered on the group’s website that being labeled a hate group by the SPLC means nothing by this time:

“It’s widely known that the Southern Poverty Law Center engages in baseless smear campaigns aimed at destroying groups with which it disagrees, and it only attacks groups on the right. Even Politico recently noted the longstanding criticism that SPLC is ‘becoming more of a partisan progressive hit operation than a civil rights watchdog.’ It’s disappointing to see elected officials become uncritical pawns in these ugly propaganda campaigns.”

“The SPLC did good work years ago, but they’ve been widely discredited for decades by investigative journalists, charity watchdogs, and commentators as activist, partisan, and unreliable. In fact, SPLC has been sued multiple times for unjustly spreading falsehoods about various groups in order to shut down those with whom they disagree. They even recently paid $3.375 million and issued a public apology to settle a threatened defamation lawsuit by Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz, whom SPLC falsely labeled an anti-Muslim extremist. Even some of our ideological opponents have sharply criticized SPLC for attacking us.”

Arizona transportation department records show the group has received more than $900,000 from the specialty plates since 2014, the newspaper reported.

The Arizona Republic noted that “In God We Trust” plates are “among many in Arizona offered to drivers through the Department of Transportation,” with $17 of the $25 purchase price going to particular causes.

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