SPLC — Never-ending Threat$

When your entire multi-million dollar operation relies on donations, it is imperative to maintain a never-ending fear campaign that will convince your gullible donors that the only thing standing between themselves and utter doom, is their righteous generosity.

No organization is better at the classic fear campaign than the Southern Poverty Law Center.

In its most recent fund raising appeal, (see below), issued, appropriately enough, on the eve of Halloween, SPLC president, Richard Cohen, warns that more money is urgently needed to protect the lives of Morris Dees and others at the Center.

While it is absolutely true that Dees has been threatened in the past, and these threats need to be taken absolutely seriously, let’s take a closer look at the “facts”.

Cohen’s warning begins with ominous testimony from an unnamed “former neo-nazi”:

Q: What were the instructions?
A: The instructions were to kill [Morris Dees].

Q: How close did you get to killing Mr. Dees?
A: Within days.
– Testimony of former neo-Nazi, Nov. 12, 2008

The testimony is dated November 12, 2008, implying that the threat was quite imminent. What Mr. Cohen neglects to mention is that events described by Klansman Kale Kelly actually took place in 1999!

Again, it is important not to downplay threats of bodily harm against anyone, but the carefully crafted wording of Cohen’s  fund raising propaganda is disingenuous, at best.

Cohen continues with the usual repetition of the SPLC’s unsubstantiated claims that “hate groups have increased by 50%,” which of course, doesn’t explain that the SPLC is the sole arbiter of who gets on the list, (there is no legal definition for the term “hate group”), and that in many cases the “group” is nothing more than a post office box, or simply a name slapped on the list to pad the numbers.

The stories of the murder of the security guard at the Holocaust Museum and five policemen, all at the hands of “lone wolf” lunatics, are invoked, as if they were some sort of connection between the crimes, or with Dees.

Then Cohen gets down to business:

“Our security costs are staggering, but they’re a measure of the threat that we face.”

According to page 11 of the SPLC’s most recent IRS Form 990, the Center spent just over $135,000 on security services, and another $142,000 donor dollars on Thomas Brinkman, its Director of Security and IT.

These combined costs, less than $300,000 donor dollars, represent less than 1% of the $35 MILLION donor dollars in cash the SPLC took in that year, and less than two tenths of a percent of the $156 MILLION donor dollars in the the SPLC’s “Endowment Fund“.

As Ken Silverstein pointed out in Harper’s Magazine in 2007, the SPLC is already “richer than Tonga” and several other sovereign nations.

Tell us again, Mr. Cohen, about how tough times are at the SPLC?

Here’s a suggestion: If you and your fellow multimillionaire, Morris Dees, would  return just 10% of the nearly $700,000 donor dollars you will pay yourselves this year, out of the donor pot, you could boost the SPLC’s security funding by 25% without soliciting another dime from your donors or touching your bloated “Endowment Fund”.

Better still, why don’t the two of you “fight hate” pro bono in 2010 and REALLY make a difference?

After all, it’s not like you two are in this noble pursuit for the money, right?


Southern Poverty Law Center
Oct. 29, 2009

Q: What were the instructions?
A: The instructions were to kill [Morris Dees].
Q: How close did you get to killing Mr. Dees?
A: Within days.
– Testimony of former neo-Nazi, Nov. 12, 2008

Dear Friend,

Thankfully, this plot to kill Morris was thwarted by an FBI informant. But according to the same informant, there are many other white supremacists bent on seeing Morris dead because of his courtroom victories against violent hate groups.

That’s why I’m asking you to make a special contribution to help us pay for our critical security measures. We need your help to keep Morris, the SPLC, and our staff safe so that we can continue to do our vital work.

Just since 2000, hate groups have increased in number by 50 percent. As the number of hate groups grows — currently 926 active groups — so does the threat against us.

Help us ensure the safety of our staff.
Donate today.

President Barack Obama’s historic election has boiled white supremacists’ anger to a new level, resulting in real violence — such as the murder of a guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the killing of five other law enforcement officers by white supremacists.

Our security analyst, a former CIA agent, has stressed the need for enhanced security measures at the SPLC, “in light of recent attacks in 2009 against high profile targets associated with Civil and Human Rights causes.”

Our security costs are staggering, but they’re a measure of the threat that we face.

Please be as generous as you can and make a special, tax-deductible contribution today to help protect Morris and the staff.

Thank you for standing with us at this critical time. Given the reactionary forces that are determined to set us back, it’s more important than ever that we continue to stand together. Please speak out against the day-to-day bigotry and incivility that threatens to divide our country. Be a champion for justice in your community.

Richard Cohen photo Thank you for your support,
Richard Cohen
J. Richard Cohen
President, Southern Poverty Law Center

P.S. We’ve increased our security measures because of the rise in violent attacks by fanatical extremists. An additional gift now will go a long way toward helping us meet our security needs. Thank you again.

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