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The Southern Poverty Law Center – which has labeled WND and other conservative organizations “hate groups” – is spending massive amounts of money to promote hate-crime propaganda rather than funding its purported mission.
The SPLC bills itself as a nonprofit civil rights group dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry. However, WND has reported extensively on how the organization ignores left-leaning groups, choosing instead to exclusively list conservative groups as so-called “hate” organizations.
The Capital Research Center recently published “Southern Poverty Law Center, Wellspring of Manufactured Hate” by James Simpson, which details how the organization designates conservative groups as hate groups similar to the Ku Klux Klan and Aryan Nations for the purpose of raising money.
The report noted that the SPLC has more than $238 million in assets, making it one of the wealthiest nonprofits in the country. Despite this, the organization spends nearly 20 percent of its budget on fundraising. In 2011, the group spent $6.5 million for fundraising, with $5.5 million going for salaries and administrative expenses.
According to the SPLC’s 2010 tax return, the group spent $12.5 million maintaining, publishing and promoting its hate group reports. However, when it came to fulfilling its primary mission, the group only spent $11 million.
The tax returns also noted the group enjoyed a net gain of $28.8 million, prompting Simpson to ask why it continues to raise funds. He said the group keeps adding tens of millions of dollars to its endowment fund, and some of its assets are tucked away in Bermuda and Cayman Island accounts.
While the SPLC does not appear to be breaking any laws, CRC Vice President Scott Walter said, at the very least, the expenditures violate good business practices.
“From a good business practice perspective, spending so much on fundraising while they are sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars – along with their lavish offices – is contributing to their losing their respect and prestige,” Walter said. “When you compare the amount that is actually used to defend people in court, that is a very small amount compared to their bigger balance sheet and far less than what they spend on fundraising, even though they have enough money to get by for years and years.”
According to Simpson, the SPLC has benefited from the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scam. The group’s biggest benefactor was the Picower Foundation, founded by Jeffrey Picower, who was friends with Bernie Madoff for 30 years and made $5 billion in profits from his “investments” with Madoff.
Following Picower’s death in 2009, federal prosecutors took over his estate in an attempt to recoup money for Madoff’s victims. The estate eventually settled and agreed to pay $7.2 billion to compensate Madoff’s victims. The Picower Foundation has since closed its doors, but Simpson asked if the SPLC will ever refund any of Picower’s donations to help those who lost their life savings in Madoff’s scheme.
In an article for the Progressive, SPLC Co-Founder Morris Dees’ first business partner, Millard Fuller, who later founded Habitat for Humanity, offered a different mission statement for the SPLC than that presented on the group’s website.
“Morris and I, from the first day of our partnership, shared the overriding purpose of making a pile of money,” Fuller said. “We were not particular about how we did it; we just wanted to be independently rich. During the eight years we worked together, we never wavered in that resolve.”
The group’s disproportionate emphasis on fundraising over helping those it claims to represent has sparked criticism from left-wing groups such as Nation magazine and Harper’s.
In a Harper’s article titled, “The Church of Morris Dees,” Millard Farmer compared him to former evangelist Jim Bakker, who went to prison for accounting fraud.
“He’s the Jim and Tammy Fayer Baker of the civil rights movement,” Farmer said, “though I don’t mean to malign Jim and Tammy Faye.”
Harper’s has also described Dees’ fundraising as “flagrantly misleading” solicitations for money, while the Nation called him “the arch-salesman of hate mongering.”
WND has noted that the SPLC also received funding from billionaire activist George Soros, who recently donated $1.5 million to help re-elect President Obama, and other left-leaning groups including the Daily Kos, SEIU, MoveOn.org, the Huffington Post and Media Matters.
The SPLC frequently accuses organizations such as WND, Family Research Council and even the American Constitution Party as adhering to “extreme anti-government doctrines.”
(The American Constitution Party in Colorado is officially a major political party in the state.)
The FRC, which advocates for traditional marriage, has said the SPLC’s designation of the organization as a hate group may have been what inspired a gunman to shoot a security guard in August.
Floyd Corkins II walked into the FRC headquarters with a backpack full of Chik-fil-A sandwiches. He pulled out a loaded weapon shot guard Leo Johnson. Authorities said Corkins made a “negative reference” about the FRC’s work prior to shooting.
WND columnist Matt Barber, who is affiliated with Liberty Counsel Action, noted the shooting was a logical outcome of the SPLC’s policy of designating conservative organizations “hate groups.”
“This was intended to dehumanize Christian organizations and smear as hate the biblical view of sexual morality,” Barber said. “I pointed this out months ago in a column I wrote for WND, titled ‘Liberal Violence Rising,‘ where I basically predicted this sort of thing.”
Walter said because the SPLC uses hate groups to raise money, designating pro-family and other conservative organization as such is directly beneficial to the organization.
“The problem with their using their policy of using hate crime lists to raise money is you always have to keep upping the ante over time,” he said. “That’s how you go from the Aryan Nations and KKK to listing the tea party and FRC as a hate group.”