Only days after a former worker claimed that employees of the much-troubled Southern Poverty Law Center knew they were “part of the con,” a U.S. senator has written to the Internal Revenue Service asking for a review of the organization’s tax exemption.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said in a letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon that reports have “confirmed the long-established fact that the SPLC regularly engages in defamation of its political opponents. In fact, SPLC’s defining characteristic is to fundraise off of defamation.”
And since “engaging in systematic defamation is not a tax-exempt purpose,” the IRS needs to review SPLC’s status and “take immediate action.”
“While IRS guidance lists several examples of tax-exempt purposes, engaging in defamation as a business model is of course not one of them,” the senator wrote. “The SPLC defames other organizations in several ways. Each year, the SPLC publishes a so-called ‘hate map,’ which ostensibly identifies hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and the Nation of Islam. But under the guise of its ‘hate map,’ the SPLC also lists its mainstream political opponents and faith-based groups, including reputable organizations such as the Family Research Council, the Alliance Defending Freedom, and the Center for Immigration Studies.”
He pointed out SPLC also targets individuals, and its political agenda and activism has resulted in real injury.
“In 2012, Floyd Lee Corkins entered and shot up the Family Research Council’s headquarters, while carrying fifteen Chick-fil-A sandwiches that he planned to smear in his victims’ faces. Corkins told investigators that he selected the Family Research Council because the SPLC labeled the organization as a ‘hate group.'”
Cotton discussed his concerns with Fox News:
He also raised the issue of the half a billion dollars SPLC has accumulated in its “slush fund.”
“Reportedly and inexplicably, $121 million of these assets are parked in offshore accounts,” the letter said.
Charity Watch has given SPLC an “F” rating, and the group has started paying out millions to settle lawsuits triggered by its “hate group” designations, the letter said.
“Perhaps the SPLC was founded for noble purposes and decades ago performed some good work, but what is left of the SPLC is no longer operating in a manner consistent with IRS guidelines and applicable law,” the senator said. “I encourage you to take immediate action.”
The letter was to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig.
The former employee who complained about the group was Bob Moser.
In an article about SPLC, he wrote, “We were part of the con, and we knew it.”
His comments were triggered by SPLC’s firing of founder Morris Dees. A week later, the group’s president, Richard Cohen, quit.
In January, Cohen and Heidi Beirich, SPLC’s Intelligence Project director, were sued in federal court in Washington, D.C., by the Center for Immigration Studies under the nation’s organized crime law for “falsely” designating CIS as a “hate group.”
Author and pundit John Stossel once called SPLC a hate group itself.
SPLC recently was sued by a lawyer who claims SPLC paid for stolen documents in an attempt to get him fired and destroy his future work prospects.
And a previous case brought against SPLC was settled by a payment of more than $3 million to Maajid Nawaz and his Quilliam Foundation, who sued after SPLC put them on its “hate” list.
As many as six dozen other organizations targeted by the SPLC are considering legal responses.
SPLC recently hired Jussie Smollett case “fixer” Tina Tchen to help it rebuild its image.
Moser’s writings offered some explanations for what’s been going on.
“For those of us who’ve worked in the Poverty Palace, putting it all into perspective isn’t easy, even to ourselves,” he wrote. “We were working with a group of dedicated and talented people, fighting all kinds of good fights, making life miserable for the bad guys. And yet, all the time, dark shadows hung over everything: the racial and gender disparities, the whispers about sexual harassment, the abuses that stemmed from the top-down management, and the guilt you couldn’t help feeling about the legions of donors who believed that their money was being used, faithfully and well, to do the Lord’s work in the heart of Dixie. We were part of the con, and we knew it.”
He recalled a joke that was common at the organization.
“Walking to lunch past the center’s Maya Lin-designed memorial to civil-rights martyrs, we’d cast a glance at the inscription from Martin Luther King, Jr., etched into the black marble — ‘Until justice rolls down like waters’ — and intone, in our deepest voices, ‘Until justice rolls down like dollars.'”
He cites the overwhelmingly white SPLC staff and allegations that circulated in the organization.
“Incoming female staffers were additionally warned by their new colleagues about Dees’s reputation for hitting on young women,” he explained. “And the unchecked power of the lavishly compensated white men at the top of the organization – Dees and the center’s president, Richard Cohen – made staffers pessimistic that any of these issues would ever be addressed. ‘I expected there’d be a lot of creative bickering, a sort of democratic free-for-all,’ my friend Brian, a journalist who came aboard a year after me, said one day. ‘But everybody is so deferential to Morris and Richard. It’s like a f—— monarchy around here.’ The work could be meaningful and gratifying. But it was hard, for many of us, not to feel like we’d become pawns in what was, in many respects, a highly profitable scam.”