Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) is continuing his hold on several Smithsonian nominees on Thursday because they refused to answer concerns about how the museum hosted “indigenous drag performers” and plans to include materials featuring transgender men in the Smithsonian’s American Women’s History Museum to be “inclusive.”
Lee, along with Sens. Roger Marshall (R-KS), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), and Rand Paul (R-KY), sent letters, which were obtained by Breitbart News, to three Smithsonian nominees, Toni Bush, Roger Ferguson, and Michael Govan, demanding to know their views on drag shows, woke exhibits, and other concerning issues at the Smithsonian. All three nominees would serve on the Smithsonian Board of Regents if approved.
“The American people deserve trustworthy caretakers for their national treasures and precious history, not drag shows, bigotry, and bias. If you want to sit on the Smithsonian’s Board of Regents, you should be able to provide a good case for how you will protect the institution from such disgraceful propaganda,” Lee said in a written statement to Breitbart News.
The existing Smithsonian Board of Regents, rather than the president, selects the nominees for its board.
The Senate Republican said the nominees did not adequately answer two of the four specific questions he asked them.
He asked the three nominees about the Smithsonian’s decision on June 23 to host “indigenous drag performers” for a night of “extravaganza of dance, music, and humor.” Lee and his colleagues noted that the event did not appear to have age restrictions. They demanded to know if the nominees thought it is appropriate for taxpayer dollars to subsidize drag shows, if it is appropriate for children to attend publicly-funded drag shows, and why the Smithsonian took no precautions to prevent children from being exposed to “lewd and sexually suggestive content.”
The Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum plans to include materials featuring biological men who claim to be women to be “inclusive.” The senators demanded to know if they thought it is appropriate for the museum to include biological males when Congress did not authorize this inclusion, and how they intend to use their position to ensure that the museum honors women, according to “Congress’s intention.”
Bush, one of the nominees, sits on the board of the Obama Foundation and served as the executive vice president and global head of government affairs for News Corp., the media company for Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Post.
In an interview for the National Journal’s Diversity in Advocacy project, Bush said that News Corp. began to look at changing its hiring practices in the wake of the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests:
I think at News Corp, and I think at companies in general, it has promoted a lot of introspective thinking about what they’re doing. Fortunately, certainly at the senior management levels at News Corp, there is probably more diversity than at a lot of other companies. I think that diversity—the importance of it sort of comes from the top. I think it’s even more important in a news organization than probably anywhere else because of the importance of the role that newspapers and magazines play in our society. But I think that across all companies, there has now been an introspection and looking at, “What are our hiring practices? What is our retention? What is the environment, like creating the opportunity for people to have more conversations about this?”
Lee and other Senate Republicans pressed the nominees over concerns about the Smithsonian’s treatment of pro-life Catholics in August.
“In January 2023, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum allegedly kicked out a dozen Catholic high school students who were wearing hats inscribed with a pro-life message reading, ‘Rosary PRO-LIFE,’” the letter states. “The students were allegedly told to either remove their hats or leave the museum. The museum has since apologized for the incident.”
The letter also noted that in July 2020, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History published the claim “If you are white in America, you have benefited from the color of your skin.”
Sean Moran is a policy reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.