Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Fact Check

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If Your Time is short

• Drag Queen Story Hour is a large organization with over 40 chapters in the U.S. and additional chapters in Europe, Australia, Mexico and Japan.

• Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Brett Blomme was recently charged for possession of child pornography. He formerly headed a nonprofit called Cream City Foundation.

• Cream City Foundation was a “fiscal sponsor” of the Milwaukee chapter of Drag Queen Story Hour, but it played no role in the chapter’s operations. ​Blomme never held any position within Drag Queen Story Hour Milwaukee, much less served as president of the national umbrella organization.

Social media users are claiming that the president of “Drag Queen Story Hour” has been charged with possession of child pornography.

“The whole drag-queen concept is about sexualization of the young,” reads a Facebook post, beside a screengrab from an article published by conservative news site Big League Politics. “Milwaukee judge and president of Drag Queen Story Hour group arrested, charged with child pornography,” reads the headline in the image.

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The claim found its way to Congress with Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., tweeting, “Drag queen story hour leader and the former CEO of horribly named ‘Cream City Foundation’ has been arrested for child pornography.”

These posts refer to Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Brett Blomme, who was recently arrested and charged with seven counts of child pornography.

Before being elected as  a judge, Blomme served as the chair of the Board of Zoning Appeals for the city of Milwaukee. Until August 2020, he was CEO of the Cream City Foundation, an LGBTQ advocacy nonprofit organization that gives grants and scholarships and borrows its name from a Milwaukee nickname that references the color of bricks produced there in the 1800s. The foundation published a statement denouncing Blomme following news of his arrest.

According to the Drag Queen Story Hour website, the organization holds events where entertainers dress in drag and read stories to children in libraries and schools. The program aims to help kids “see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish, where dress up is real.” The organization has more than 40 chapters in the United States and additional chapters in Europe, Australia, Mexico and Japan.

Cream City Foundation acted as the fiscal sponsor of the Milwaukee chapter of Drag Queen Story Hour. A fiscal sponsorship is a financial partnership that allows a non-tax-exempt organization like the Milwaukee chapter to receive donations. A charitable organization – in this case the Cream City Foundation – receives donations meant for the Milwaukee chapter and gives the donation to them in the form of grants.

But Blomme never held a position with Drag Queen Story Hour Milwaukee, much less served as president of the national umbrella organization.

Jonathan Hamilt, the executive director of the national Drag Queen Story Hour organization, said in an emailed statement that the foundation’s relationship with Drag Queen Story Hour was “strictly financial.”

“DQSH Milwaukee has never been run by the Cream City Foundation nor Brett Blomme, (nor) have either participated in planning, organizing, hosting or performing at any of our events” he wrote. “Brett has never held a title or position within our organization ever. Aside from financials, they have had no part in DQSH Milwaukee & DQSH HQ.”

Hamilt said that the Milwaukee chapter of his organization is severing all ties with Cream City Foundation.

Our ruling

Claims shared on social media said that the “president of Drag Queen Story Hour” was “arrested, charged with child pornography.”

That’s not what happened. A judge who used to lead an organization that served as an intermediary for donations to the Drag Queen Story Hour’s Milwaukee chapter has been charged with seven counts of child pornography.

But he never held a position with the Drag Queen Story Hour.

We rate these claims False. ​

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