One would naturally assume that any entity that bills itself as “a leading civil rights organization” in all of its press releases would be one of the most diverse outfits around, right?
A look at the top officers at the Southern Poverty Law Center paints a very different picture. According to pages 11 and 40 of the group’s most recent IRS Form 990, none of the SPLC’s top ten players are minorities.
Name and Compensation
Richard Cohen — President/CEO $351,648
Teenie Hutchison — Chief Financial Officer $155,144
Joseph Levin — General Counsel $191,756
Morris Dees — Chief Trial Counsel $346,919
Jeff Blancett — Former Oper. Officer $185,305
Rhonda Brownstein — Legal Director $179,983
Thomas Brinkman — Security & IT $142,359
Wendy Via — Development Director $140,469
Mark Potok — Intelligence Director $143,206
Mary Bauer — Immigrant Justice Prog. $141,111
The Form 990 also includes the names of a few token minorities, such as Julian Bond and David Wang, but they serve only as unpaid “advisers” and have no real responsibility.
Otherwise, it reads like the directory of any New York law firm.
In 1994, the local newspaper, the Montgomery Advertiser, ran a series of articles on the SPLC, including one in which former black employees describe a “plantation mentality” that drove them from the nation’s “leading civil rights group.”
What is left is a decidedly non-diverse team of key players who establish policy and make all of the important decisions. Not very southern and certainly not impoverished.
To paraphrase the late Leona Helmsley, it would seem that SPLC founder Morris Dees believes that diversity, like paying taxes, “is for the little people…”