Posts Tagged ‘compensation’

SPLC 2016 – Celebrating 45 Years of “Whites Only” at the Top!

March 4, 2016

Spring is in the air, which means it’s time to have a look at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s latest financial reports.

While there have been some significant events surrounding the company’s bloated Endowment Fund, (to be examined in a future post), and the usual deck chair shuffling on the “Hate Map” fundraising tool, (also to be explored shortly), Watching the Watchdogs has determined that, once again, the Senior Executive Staff of the SPLC is all white, just as it has been every single year since the company opened for business in 1971.

Not a lot of other multi-million dollar companies can claim an unbroken 45-year streak of whites at the heights. Even the NBA and NFL had to give in eventually.

So, according to the SPLC’s tax return for the fiscal year ending October 31, 2015, its IRS Form 990, posted on the company’s website, here are the senior execs for the year:

2015 Execs

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If they look vaguely familiar, it’s because these are the same people from the previous fiscal year. The only thing that has changed are their salaries:

2016 Salaries

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Looks like a little something extra for everybody, except poor David Utter, for some reason.

A couple of minor notes are in order. Wendy Via is enjoying her fourth consecutive raise in the $19,000 to $20,000 range. It seems that Development (read: Fundraising) is as good as ever.

Jerri Katzerman and Lisa Sahulka are newcomers to the company, as we mentioned last year, and so they are being eased into their actual salaries gradually.

Ms. Sahulka in particular only pulled down $53,000 in her first year as Chief Operating Officer, a fraction of her predecessor’s pay. Michael Toohey earned $148,000 that year as COO, and $234,000 the year before that. Not bad for a guy who quit the company the year before! Expect Ms. Sahulka to get another generous pay bump this year.

Last year marked the debut of Heidi Beirich into the ranks of the company’s highest paid officers, though she has been with the company as long as Public Relations Guru Mark Potok, doing pretty much the same job. Wonder why his raise was $5,000 more than hers?

And we’ve included Maureen Costello for the second year, even though her salary is unknown and she is not listed on the Form 990 as one of the highest paid execs. Ms. Costello heads up the SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance department, which purports to promote diversity in the K-12 classroom.

In 1994, two reporters from the Montgomery Advertiser, the SPLC’s hometown newspaper, noted that not only were there no minority executives at the Center, but that Teaching Tolerance was staffed entirely by whites at that time. You can read the full text here.

Equal treatment

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Though the staffing at Teaching Tolerance has hopefully diversified over the decades, the leadership has remained completely white, except when Lecia Brooks was allowed to sit in temporarily as a caretaker until Ms. Costello could be hired, a position not even mentioned on Ms. Brooks’ company bio page.

With nearly 300 employees, more than $54,000,000 in revenues for each of the past two years, and more than $302,000,000 in cash-on-hand, what possible excuse can Messers Dees, Levin and Cohen make for keeping minorities out of the company’s Executive Suite for FORTY-FIVE consecutive years running?

We can only think of one reason, and it stinks…



SPLC 2014 — All White Execs Since 1971

April 28, 2014

Once again the Southern Poverty Law Center has released its annual IRS Form 990 and once again the form shows that the SPLC’s executive suite is as lily-white as when Morris Dees opened for business in 1971.

The SPLC’s 43-year record of no minorities at the top stands unbroken because it stands unchallenged. To date, Watching the Watchdogs seems to have a monopoly on exposing the total lack of diversity at “the nation’s leading civil rights organization.”

It’s a dirty job, as they say…

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Richard Cohen — President/CEO — $349,843
Morris Dees — Founder and Chief Trial Counsel — $354,727
Joseph Levin — Director and General Counsel — $189,769
Mary Bauer — Outgoing Legal Director — $190,509
Teenie Hutchinson — Secretary — $168,487
Wendy Via — Development Director — $183,118 (+$16,358)
Mark Potok — Senior Fellow — $163,315

David Utter — Director — Miami – 

Not shown is Michael Toohey, the SPLC’s Former COO for the second year in a row! His paltry $148,385 is down nearly $86,000 donor-dollars from last year’s $234,309.

At this rate he’ll have to give up not working at the SPLC altogether.

Wendy Via scored the only solid raise last year, though her $16k boost was less than the $19,582 raise she got the year before.

And once again, the SPLC’s most highly educated team member, Dr. Heidi Beirich, failed to make the list of top-paid “key employees” even though she’s taken over Mark Potok’s role as primary propagandist.

Same job, different pay. That’s gotta be galling…

Sorry Dr. B. Better luck next year!

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It’s hard to believe that we’ve been pointing out this hypocrisy for five years now and not a single journalist or media outlet has picked up the story. Or maybe not so hard to believe.

And as usual, we expect the same questions we get every year about Julian Bond and the SPLC’s board of directors. In an effort to conserve electrons, we will simply redirect the reader to last year’s post on the Caucasian Crusaders that does a pretty good job of explaining how Morris Dees only hired Mr. Bond as an “honorary president” so he could use Bond’s name on fundraising materials and how the Montgomery Advertiser exposed the SPLC’s rubber-stamp board as far back as 1994.

That post explains it all in text, images and video.

We’ll keep our fingers crossed that we’ll have something new to report next year, that the white millionaire owners of the SPLC will finally begin to practice what they preach, but please, don’t anybody hold their breath.


SPLC — “Fighting Hate” on $106,000 a day

May 18, 2012

How much do you earn a day? Well, if you’re the Southern Poverty Law Center it turns out that you make about $106,062 a day, mostly in the form of tax-free donations.

That’s $106k a day, every day, 365 days a year…

Or, $4,419 an hour…

Or, $73.65 a minute, every minute of every day.

Remember that next time you get an e-mail from SPLC founder Morris Dees explaining how desperate his group is for cash and how only your generosity can save the nation’s leading civil rights group from disaster.

As the SPLC’s most recent IRS Form 990 explains, the Center enjoyed revenues of $38, 712,628 last year, a modest 11.7% raise from the previous year, just like the raise you probably received too.

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In fact, even after paying more than $14 million in salaries (an average of $61,693 per employee) and another $6.5 million in fundraising costs, the SPLC showed a tidy “non-profit” of $4,147,216, when all the “hate fightin'” was over, or just less than a million more than the “non-profit” it showed the year before.

As Line 22 of the Form 990 shows, the SPLC has less than $240 million in tax-free assets on hand, so get out that checkbook and don’t be stingy.

A one hundred dollar donation will match the SPLC’s revenue stream for about one minute and twenty seconds.

For a cool grand you can boast that you kept the lights on for more than 13 minutes.

With your help, we can take the “poverty” out of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Time is money, people.

SPLC — 2011– Forty Years of White Supremacy

February 6, 2011

Richard Cohen

Meet the dedicated men and women of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Presented here, according to the SPLC’s most recent IRS Form 990,  are “the nation’s leading civil rights group’s” top eleven, highest paid executives, their titles and compensation packages and any significant changes in their base salaries from the previous year:

Richard Cohen — President/CEO — $340,818
Morris Dees — Founder and Chief Trial Counsel — $344,809
Joseph Levin — Director and General Counsel — $184, 469
Rhonda Brownstein — “Outgoing” Legal Dir.– $137,256 (-$29,942, Ouch!)
Teenie Hutchinson — CFO — $156,623 (+$4,598!)
Wendy Via — Development Director — $148,537  (+$11,244!)
Mark Potok — Intelligence Director — $147,276  (
+ $7,310!)
Mary Bauer — Dir. Immigrant Justice — $258,669 (+$119,063!!)
David Utter — Director — Miami — $137,256

Not shown are Michael Toohey, the SPLC’s COO, $225,765 (+$118,233!!!) and IT Chief Thomas Brinkman ($135,060). If anyone knows of a public photo of Mr. Toohey or Mr. Brinkman, please pass the info along to Watching the Watchdogs.

If you examine the photos closely, you may note a surprising coincidence: ALL of the SPLC’s highest paid executives are white.

Some people may find it odd that a civil rights organization, headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama, the very birthplace of the American Civil Rights Movement and home to Rosa Parks, would be run by white millionaires, but that’s nothing compared with the fact that in its entire 40 year long history, the Southern Poverty Law Center has NEVER hired a person of color to a highly paid position of power.

As long ago as 1994, Dan Morse, an investigative reporter for the Montgomery Advertiser noted the lack of diversity in the SPLC’s executive suite, and the situation has not changed whatsoever in the 17 years since.

(Dan Morse, “Equal Treatment? No blacks in center’s leadership,” Montgomery Advertiser, February 16, 1994.)

“Inside [SPLC headquarters], no blacks have held top management positions in the center’s 23-year history, and some former employees say blacks are treated like second-class citizens.”

The article continues:

“I would definitely say that there was not a single black employee with whom I spoke who was happy to be working there,” said Christine Lee, a black graduate of Harvard Law School who interned at the Law Center in 1989.”

In his defense, SPLC founder Morris Dees offered the following statements:

“There ain’t no plantation mentality. If that was the case, I don’t know what the blacks would be doing in the positions they are…” In 1994, when Dees made this eloquent statement, the SPLC’s highest paid African American employee was in charge of the mail room, where she had worked for the previous 20-plus years.

“It is not easy to find black lawyers. Any organization can tell you that.” This could be true. After all, NFL and NBA team owners made the exact same observation for decades when explaining why there were no black head coaches, right?

Supporters of the SPLC will often point to the diverse “Board of Directors” posted on the SPLC’s web site as proof of inclusion at the top:

A veritable rainbow of diversity and multiculturalism, however the IRS Form 990 indicates that the board members are unpaid volunteers, which is not uncommon among such boards in the corporate world. The real question is how much influence does the board have over SPLC policies and practices?

During the same week-long investigative report of the SPLC, Dan Morse noted that most of the board members were old friends and cronies of Morris Dees who regularly rubber-stamped whatever the maestro put before them. Some of the board members in Morse’s 1994 report are still on the SPLC board today.

(Dan Morse, “Friendly Board,” Montgomery Advertiser, February 19, 1994.)

“Well, what about Julian Bond and Lecia Brooks?” say the die-hards, “They’re African Americans.”

On page 132 of his 1991 autobiography, “A Season for Justice,” (reprinted verbatim in 2003 as “A Lawyer’s Journey“), Dees writes about the earliest days of the SPLC when he was preparing to mail out the very first of that organization’s fund-raising appeals, (using the 700,000-plus names on the donor list he received for “volunteering” to serve as finance manager for George McGovern’s presidential bid.)

Dees had made his millions in direct mail, not law, and he knew how to write a successful sales pitch:

“Before we could ask for money, we had to establish credibility. We needed a prominent figure whose presence would announce the center’s values and promise. Julian Bond seemed the perfect choice.”

“I had never met Julian Bond. My friend Chuck Morgan… working for the ACLU… arranged a meeting in Atlanta. When I told [Bond] about our hopes and plans, he agreed to serve as president of the Law Center, a largely honorary position.”

Dees does not mention any money changing hands, so it is quite possible that Mr. Bond was eager to lend his good name to two white lawyers from Montgomery, of whom he had never heard, for free. Whether Mr. Bond was paid or not, he held no real power at the SPLC. (Bond gets two paragraphs in Dees’ 335 page memoir and is never heard from again…)

This is a classic case of celebrity endorsement and nothing more. If Bond held no power as “honorary president,” one has to wonder how much he now wields as an honorary board member?

As for Lecia Brooks, whose title of Outreach Director probably makes her the highest paid minority at the SPLC, it appears that she is neither highly paid, nor in an executive, decision-making position. Page 7 of last year’s IRS Form 990 also listed the SPLC’s highest paid executives, including Michael Toohey, whose paltry $73,454 salary was the lowest on the list.

While Mr. Toohey received a six-digit raise since then, Ms. Brooks did not make the list, meaning her salary was less than $73k, or roughly half of what the next tier of (white) execs were pulling down.

We won’t denigrate the intelligent, talented and dedicated Ms. Brooks with the term “token,” but a highly paid executive in a position of power she clearly is not.

One last note on the hypocrisy of Morris Dees. Below is a Google Map snapshot of the SPLC’s multi-million dollar “Poverty Palace,” in downtown Montgomery, marked with a letter “A.” In the same photo, at the top right, and ironically, nearly in the shadow of the SPLC, is the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Dr. Martin Luther King’s first church.

For forty years now, the executives of the Southern Poverty Law Center have been able to look down on Dr. King’s church from their penthouse suites. For forty years whites have remained supreme at the SPLC. Somethings just never change in Montgomery.


SPLC — “Whites Only” 2010

August 19, 2010

Richard Cohen

Meet the dedicated men and women of the Southern Poverty Law Center. According to its most recent IRS Form 990, these are the SPLC’s top ten, highest paid executives, their titles and compensation:

Richard Cohen — President/CEO — $344,490
Morris Dees — Founder and Chief Trial Counsel — $348,420
Joseph Levin — Director and General Counsel — $189,166
Rhonda Brownstein — Legal Director — $179,806
Jeff Blancett — Former COO (two years in a row!) — $159,301
Teenie Hutchinson — Chief Financial Officer — $155,414
Wendy Via — Development Director — $140,428
Mark Potok — Intelligence Director — $143,099
Jennifer Holladay –Strategic Affairs — $137,900
Mary Bauer — Director Immigrant Justice — $141,484

Not shown is Michael Toohey, the SPLC’s current COO, $89,975 (the only 5-digit salary on the list). If anyone knows of a public photo of Mr. Toohey, please pass the info along to Watching the Watchdogs.

Does anyone else notice a disturbing pattern here?

NOT ONE of the SPLC’s top ten, highest paid executives is a minority, and certainly not an immigrant!

And yet, “the nation’s leading civil rights organization” preaches incessantly about the never-ending threat of White supremacists and routinely smears anyone who believes in enforcing existing immigration laws as “racist” and “nativist.”

This situation is hardly new. In 1994, the Montgomery Advertiser, that city’s leading newspaper, reported the exact same demographic situation!

(Dan Morse, “Equal Treatment? No blacks in center’s leadership,” Montgomery Advertiser, February 16, 1994)

Earlier this year, the SPLC posted a “diverse” Board of Directors on their web site:

A veritable rainbow of diversity and multiculturalism. Oddly enough, once Watching the Watchdogs initiated a campaign to point out to the Media that all of the esteemed board members, with the exception of Joseph Levin, were unpaid volunteers, the SPLC dropped the images from their web site. Coincidence, no doubt.

Of course, some will say that these “directors” play a vital role in the day-to-day operations of the SPLC, but after reading Morris Dees’ cynical anecdote about how he came to hire Julian Bond as the SPLC’s first “honorary President,” one has to wonder how much influence Mr. Bond wields as an honorary, unpaid Director?

The SPLC even promotes an annual “Mix it Up at Lunch Day,” where, according to their PR press release, “Thousands of schools are set to challenge social and racial boundaries” as their students agree to “take a new seat in the cafeteria” and sit with people of different races and backgrounds.

How exactly do the millionaires who run the SPLC “mix it up”?? Do they “challenge social boundaries” by eating lunch with the 5-digit salary peons? Or racial boundaries by having a sandwich with the janitors and landscaping crew?

And if this situation isn’t ironic (read: hypocritical) enough for you, here’s another picture to ponder:

This Google Maps photo shows downtown Montgomery, Alabama, the cradle of the American Civil Rights Movement and hometown of Rosa Parks. At center left is the SPLC’s multimillion dollar “Poverty Palace,” (marked with the letter “A”), and at top right, the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, Dr. Martin Luther King’s home church at the start of his career.

The millionaire hypocrites at the SPLC can literally plot their next “racists are everywhere” fund-raising project with a view of Dr. King’s home church from their penthouse windows.

The last remaining “Whites Only” sign in Montgomery hangs on the door of the SPLC’s senior boardroom.

SPLC — Dreaming of a White Christmas

December 31, 2009
A look at the top officers at the Southern Poverty Law Center as named on pages 11 and 40 of the group’s most recent IRS Form 990, and their annual compensation for 2008.

Richard Cohen -- President/CEO -- $351,648

Morris Dees -- Chief Trial Counsel -- $346,919

Joseph Levin -- General Counsel -- $191,756

Jeff Blancett -- Former Oper. Officer -- $185,305

$185,000 donor dollars for the former Chief Operating Officer?)

Rhonda Brownstein -- Legal Director -- $179,983

Teenie Hutchison -- Chief Financial Officer -- $155,144

Mark Potok -- Intelligence Director -- $143,206

Mary Bauer -- Immigrant Justice-- $141,111

Wendy Via -- Development Director -- $140,469

(Not shown is the SPLC’s $142,639 donor dollar Security and IT chief, Thomas Brinkman)

Given the six-digit salaries these folks are pulling down for their never-ending battle against “hate” (however they choose to define it), it’s pretty obvious that Santa is very good to them every year.
It’s also curious that the world’s leading civil rights organization can’t seem to find a single minority whom they consider to be worthy of a top management position.
Funny that an organization that spends tens of thousands of donor dollars promoting “Mix It Up” Day in America’s school cafeterias seems to believe that “diversity” ends at the Boardroom door.
Some things just never seem to change much in Montgomery.
Happy New Year, SPLC, no doubt all your Christmases will continue to be white.

SPLC – “Bah! Humbug!”

December 14, 2009

At this festive season of the year, we are treated to a multitude of iterations of Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol: Being a Ghost Story of Christmas“. Everyone from Mr. Magoo to Michael Caine to Jim Carrey has a crack at showing us the error of our greedy ways and scaring us into doing the right thing.

The Internet Movie Database (IMDb), in its trivia section describing some of these presentations, reminds us of the origins of Mr. Scrooge’s most famous exclamation, “Humbug!”

“The word “humbug” describes deceitful efforts to fool people by pretending to a fake loftiness or false sincerity. So when Scrooge calls Christmas a humbug, he is claiming that people only pretend to charity and kindness in an scoundrel effort to delude him, each other, and themselves.”

Humbug, therefore, is a perfect description of the endless stream of fund-raising propaganda that issues forth from the Southern Poverty Law Center, like so much steaming stuffing from Bob Cratchit’s Christmas goose. Humbug being, as the French would say,  le mot juste.

The SPLC’s loftiness, and sincerity, are manufactured, not in some polar workshop, but by the highly skilled, and highly paid, efforts of their resident Public Relations elf, Mark Potok. Mr. Potok, who is compensated with more than $143,000 dollars from the donation kettle each year, excels at maintaining the SPLC’s twenty-plus-year-old fear campaign, as well as promoting the SPLC brand.

Whenever you read or hear the statement that the SPLC is “a leading civil rights organization,” or that its founder, Morris Dees, is a “pioneering civil rights icon,” you are reading the words of Mr. Potok or one of his minions. Every press release issued by Mr. Potok, to be picked up and disseminated as “news” by the media, will include one of these phrases or the other.

As mentioned in an earlier post on this blog, any lie, if repeated often enough, becomes truth.

Mr. Potok is quite efficient in his work; last year he helped to bring in over $30 million donor dollars. Of that $30 million, the “leading civil rights organization” spent just over $1.36 million in “legal case expenses,” or over half a million less than the $1.88 million it spent on fund-raising postage alone.

Given that the SPLC is a law center, with top-notch attorneys, interns and paralegals already on the payroll, one has to wonder what these expenses were. Actual court costs, even in jurisdictions larger than Montgomery, generally run in the few hundreds to few thousands of dollars.

In fact, according to their own auditors, the SPLC spent more on office supplies, ($1.4 million), and nearly as much for printing and lettershop expenses, ($1.2 million on each), as they did on “legal case expenses”.  Another $1.2 million donor dollars went just to compensate the top three lawyers, multimillionaires Dees, Cohen, Levin, and PR man Potok.

The SPLC spent more than $5 million donor dollars on “educational materials” and “other educational projects”, or nearly four times more than was spent on “legal case expenses”. It should be noted that “educational materials” can include fund-raising and lobbying materials, as well.

So much for loftiness and sincerity.

Much has already been posted on this blog concerning the SPLC’s other fund-raising techniques and scare tactics, (here, here and here, for example), to bore the reader with a tiresome repetition at this time.

Suffice it to say that any “civil rights law center” that spends more on fund-rasing postage than it does on actual “legal case expenses” is worthy of a heartfelt “Humbug!” indeed.

The SPLC’s “Hate Map” — The Biggest Lie

October 12, 2009

There are two old truisms regarding propaganda, (occasionally attributed to Hitler and Goebbels, respectively): “The people will accept a big lie more readily than a small lie, and “A lie, told often enough, becomes truth.”

Such is the case with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s infamous “Hate Map“.

The “Hate Map” is the primary responsibility of the SPLC’s public relations guru, Mark Potok, and is one of the keystones of that group’s multimillion dollar fund raising apparatus. The map serves as a simplified visual aid intended to document the SPLC’s “hate group” allegations, and is referenced frequently in media releases.

These claims are picked up by others and repeated, ad infinitum, with almost nobody bothering to actually look at the “data” provided.

  1. SPLC founder, Morris Dees, is the sole arbiter of what constitutes a “hate group”
  2. Even the FBI does not track “hate groups” as there is no legal definition for that term.
  3. Mark Potok has claimed on numerous occasions that “…a “hate group” has nothing to do with criminality… [or] potential for violence…”Rather, as Potok put it, “It’s all about ideology.”
  4. On March 25, 2009, Potok told the San Luis Obispo Tribune that “…inclusion on the list might come from a minor presence, such as a post office box.”
  5. On July 6, 2009, Potok reported to that the “Intelligence Report, which Potok also writes and is the source of “data” for the “Hate Map,” …relies on media, citizen and law enforcement reports, and does not include original reporting by SLPC [sic] staff.”

So basically, the “Hate Map” primarily documents legal, non-violent groups whose only crime is to run afoul of Mo Dees’ ideology. “Groups” are identified by such scanty evidence as PO boxes and second hand information gleaned by Mark Potok’s glorified, $143,000 donor-dollar-a-year newsclipping service.

The 2008 iteration of Potok’s “Hate Map” makes the claim that SPLC has identified 926 “hate groups” in the US, based on the scrupulously scientific methods mentioned above. Almost every state in the union has at least one “hate group” according to Potok.

Even more alarming, Potok reports “a 54% increase since 2000.” Pretty scary stuff, until you realize that Potok’s job is to increase the numbers by 4-6% each year, whether the “groups” exist or not. Over the course of 8 years of this constant padding, hitting “54%” is no great feat.

Donors might be even more justifiably alarmed if they realized that the SPLC’s top three officers, Dees, Cohen and Levin, split between themselves more than $7 million donor dollars from the donation pot since 2000.

A small price to pay, no doubt, for such valuable information.

If one actually looks at Mr. Potok’s “Hate Map” for California, however, the state with the largest collection of alleged “hate groups,” you will immediately notice that the first 14 “groups” on the list are not affiliated with any locale. They merely exist in Mr. Potok’s mind, and serve to pad California’s alleged total by 17%.

One phantom group, the Golden State Skinheads, actually appears on the list twice!!! Remember the last time YOU saw an actual Skinhead?

Where exactly are the first 14 "groups" located?

Fourteen percent of Number 2 ranked Texas and 11% of Number 3 Florida‘s languish in limbo as well.

In some states, such as Wyoming, New Mexico and Maine, the number of unaffiliated, “phantom” groups is 100%. We know that these “hate groups” are really, really there, because the SPLC are experts, as Potok reminds us in every one of his PR press releases.

In all, 127 of Mr. Potok’s “hate groups” are homeless. They exist solely to pad the numbers.

On July 21, 2009, Potok commented in the  “Still, [Potok] said the public should remain vigilant about the activities of hate groups, even though individuals are responsible for the majority of hate crimes in America.”

So every year the number spurious “hate groups” rises predictably according to the SPLC’s rigid legal standards, (“It’s all about ideology!”), and every year Mark Potok dutifully records the latest round of second- and third-hand reports of marauding post office boxes, even though Potok admits that “lone wolves” are the biggest threat, not “hate groups.” And every year the media and the SPLC’s aging donor base lap up these spurious numbers as truth.

The lie gets bigger every year and is repeated ever farther afield and more often each year.

Every year the number of donor dollars increases, with more than $31 MILLION of them rolling in last year.

Somewhere, in the Seventh Level of Hell, Joe Goebbels is laughing.

Julian Bond and the SPLC

August 31, 2009

As Morris Dees points out in his 1991 autobiography, “A Season for Justice: The life and times of civil rights lawyer Morris Dees,” (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons), the first thing his fledgling organization needed was a steady supply of cash.

In 1971, with Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern’s donor list of 700,000 self -identified liberals in hand, Dees prepared the first SPLC fund raising request for mass mailing.

Dees realized that in order to persuade people to donate money to a completely unknown cause he would have to have a famous “name” which donors would recognize. To this end, Dees turned to famed civil rights activist, Julian Bond, whom he had never met, and offered him the “largely honorary position” of president of the SPLC.

This classic marketing technique, celebrity endorsement or testimonial, worked as planned and Dees got his first 500 donors.[1]

Julian Bond, who would later go on to head the NAACP, likes to claim that he was a co-founder of the SPLC in his literature, however, there is little evidence that he played any role beyond lending, or possibly renting, his name to Dees. Bond only receives three short paragraphs in Dees’ book and is not mentioned again anywhere in the remaining 200 pages.

Although Dees does not mention any money changing hands, it’s highly unlikely, though not impossible, that Bond would agree to endorse an unknown start-up group he had never heard of for free. The SPLC’s current president, Richard Cohen, is compensated more than $350,000 a year. [2]

To this day, both Bond and the SPLC play up Bond’s meaningless figurehead “presidency” in their press releases.

[1] Dees, Morris S., 1991, A Season for Justice: The life and times of civil rights lawyer Morris Dees,” (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons), p. 132

[2] SPLC IRS Form 990, p. 40 (

Watching the self-appointed watchdogs

August 30, 2009

Welcome to Watching the Watchdogs. Our purpose here is to examine the publications and pronouncements of the Southern Poverty Law Center and other self-appointed “hate watchdogs” attempting to influence public policy.

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