For Southern Poverty Law Center, who’s desperately trying to stay afloat now that the world knows about its culture of systematic racism and bigotry, a bad month just got worse. While SPLC is busy pretending nothing’s wrong (or worse, trying to fundraise off of what is), the story of the disgraced organization just took an interesting twist. While the liberal media is being forced to address SPLC’s lack of credibility, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) is hoping to hit the group where it hurts: their wallet.
In the weeks since Morris Dees’s firing (for rampant bigotry and sexual harassment, it turns out), the hot seat hasn’t been kind to the uncivil-civil rights group. The SPLC’s longtime allies in the press, who’ve spent decades carrying water for the organization, are now being forced to acknowledge the unsavory deeds that have taken place behind the doors of the Poverty Palace. As offensive as it was that the group was smearing innocent conservatives, the idea that taxpayers might be unwittingly supporting a culture of systematic bigotry is a bridge too far for some senators. In a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, he calls on the agency to investigate.
On Fox News to talk about the request, Senator Cotton pointed out just how shady the SPLC’s financial dealings have been. “I don’t know many [nonprofits] that send their endowment overseas. Charity Watch gives them an F rating. They have become a hate group themselves and use that to stigmatize opponents. There are plenty of groups on the Left I don’t agree with, but I don’t stigmatize them as a hate group and peddle that to CNN and the New York Times.” Not to mention, he went on, the horrible allegations of workplace misconduct. “Talk about misusing funds! The founder was paid $400,000 a year. They do nothing other than sexually harass young women working in the Southern Poverty Law Center.”
If IRS didn’t mind targeting conservative groups without cause under Barack Obama, surely it won’t object to an investigation over actual wrongdoing. “The letter I sent today is just the first step I’m taking to get the IRS focused on this serious problem: a so-called ‘charity’ that has racism and sexual discrimination problems. It’s using that money to target political opponents. That’s not what American taxpayers are subsidizing with tax-exempt status. Not to sexually harass every woman in your office and discriminate against migrants,” he went on.
The letter itself doesn’t pull any punches. Two full pages, lined with citations, paint a grim picture of the 48-year-old organization, which, Cotton explains, “regularly engages in defamation of its political opponents.” In fact, he argues, SPLC’s “defining characteristic is to fundraise off of defamation.”
“This business model has paid well. The SPLC has accrued more than $500 million in assets,” he wrote. “According to the group’s most recent financial statement, it holds $121 million offshore in non-U.S. equity funds… Engaging in systematic defamation is not a tax-exempt purpose… The SPLC operates as a tax-sheltered slush fund to enrich its leadership. In addition to failing to have a tax-exempt purpose, the SPLC’s peculiar financial situation warrants your attention.”
Perhaps, Cotton closes, the SPLC “was founded for noble purposes… but what is left of SPLC is no longer operating in a manner consistent with IRS guidelines and applicable law… I encourage you to take immediate action.”
When they do, it’ll be interesting to see how many media outlets line up to cover it. The press, who’s been bailing from the SPLC bandwagon by the dozens, is under intense pressure to cut all ties with the humiliated group. Today, a coalition of 67 conservative leaders and nonprofit groups demanded that reporters end all partnerships with the SPLC.
“Today’s SPLC is aggressively anti-Christian and morally bankrupt,” we write, “both inside and out. It attacks anyone who disagrees with its far-left agenda, smearing them with lies and grossly mischaracterizing their work. All the while SPLC has also been imploding from within… SPLC has lost all credibility. We call on all media, corporations, social media companies, and financial institutions to immediately stop relying on their discredited and partisan ‘hate’ and ‘extremist’ lists.”
As seen here at Family Research Council: Washington Update. Posted here with permission.
Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.