Posts Tagged ‘diversity’

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 — $190 MILLION is STILL not enough

September 15, 2010

Just got the latest fund-raising request from multi-millionaire Morris Dees:

Southern Poverty Law Center

Sept. 15, 2010

Dear Friend,

Continue your role helping the SPLC fight hate and injustice by renewing your membership.

renew now

When you joined the SPLC, you demonstrated that you are committed to the fight against injustice and bigotry. I’m concerned that you have not renewed your support this year.

Hate groups are at record levels — almost 1,000 — and antigovernment “patriot” groups have increased at a startling pace in recent months. We’re vigilantly tracking these potentially dangerous groups and training law enforcement across the country to identify and deal with extremists. Your renewed support would mean so much to the critical projects our investigative team is pursuing.

In recent months, we’ve seen extremists, such as cop-killers Jerry and Joe Kane, take deadly action. The Kanes were members of a rapidly growing radical-right movement — “sovereign citizens” — that may now be 300,000 strong. Since they murdered two Arkansas police officers, we’ve compiled a full dossier on the “sovereign citizens” that we hope will aid law enforcement in identifying these extremists and prevent further violence.

Our Teaching Tolerance project is also doing its part to break the cycle of hate and anger by reaching children with messages of understanding and acceptance before the seeds of hate take root. We’ll begin shipping our latest film and education kit, Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case that Made History, to schools this month. With your renewed support, any school that requests a copy of this invaluable anti-bullying tool will receive one free of charge.

You are crucial to our success in fighting hate, seeking justice and teaching tolerance. Please continue to speak out against hate whenever and wherever you see it. And please renew your membership today.

Morris Dees  photo Sincerely,
Morris Dees
Morris Dees
Founder, Southern Poverty Law Center

P.S. If your renewal gift and this e-mail have crossed, please accept my gratitude for your continued commitment to making a difference in our country.

Take advantage of corporate matching — contact your employer’s HR department to see if they will match your contributions to SPLC.

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We welcome your feedback.
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Or by mail:
Southern Poverty Law Center
400 Washington Ave.
Montgomery, AL 36104

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It seems that Millionaire Mo, (who made his first million in 1964) is concerned that you didn’t “renew your support” this year.

To hell with the fact that the SPLC has nearly $190 MILLION tax-free donor dollars in its bloated Endowment Fund, or that the Endowment grew by $39 MILLION donor-dollars last year, which is $10 MILLION more than the SPLC bilked out of its mostly elderly donor base, (and $15 MILLION more than if the SPLC retired its no-longer-needed fund-raising battalion, including PR Guru Mark Potok).

“Hate groups,” which has no legal definition and is an entirely meaningless term, “are at record levels,” 932 is somehow “almost 1,000” according to the SPLC’s completely arbitrary and unsubstantiated counting system. and “cop killers” Jerry and Joe Kane are on the rampage. No matter that sad, twisted, 16 year-old Jerry Kane was the trigger-man, if you send the SPLC money today you will prevent the next mentally deficient teenager from pulling the trigger.

Sadly, Millionaire Mo doesn’t quite lay out HOW sending him money will stop the next lone wolf, but that’s not the issue here. Mo has to pay more than 40% of his incoming donor-dollars in salaries, and you need to write that check TODAY, by God. Don’t forget, for every $100 dollar check your blue-haired Granny sends to Uncle Mo, $19 dollars of that amount has to be turned around to garner the NEXT $100 dollar check.

Mo also is short on details when it comes to explaining how sending him your name, address, phone number and e-mail address will help him to “Stand Strong Against Hate,” but no doubt it will and Uncle Mo would NEVER sell your information to another “civil rights watchdog.”

So there it is. $190 MILLION tax-free donor dollars isn’t nearly enough to support the SPLC. True, Mo Dees has gotten more Klansmen OUT of prison than he ever sent there, there is still the fact the 74 year-old multi-millionaire skims the first $303,000 donor-dollars-a-year out of the donor pot to pay his salary, and despite the fact that the “nation’s leading civil rights organization” HAS NEVER hired a person of color to a highly  paid position of power, there is absolutely no reason to expect this “civil rights icon” to work pro bono for the benefit of the REAL poor, Southern or otherwise.

Please give till it hurts. Uncle Mo needs your money today. After all, his “Teaching Tolerance” program supports “Mix It Up Day,” where school kids are encouraged to sit with kids of other ethnic backgrounds in the cafeteria one day a year. Since the executive suite of the SPLC is exclusively white, one has to wonder just who the millionaires of the SPLC “mix it up” with? The janitors? The gardeners?

Uncle Mo puts the “hip” back into “hypocrite”

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.

Diversity at the SPLC

October 22, 2009

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…”

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