Posts Tagged ‘fraud’

SPLC — Virginia’s “Hate Groups” 2018

August 16, 2019

Every so often, it is useful to take a closer look at the “hate group” claims made by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In the first of a series of such claims directed at various states, we have examined the “hate groups” the SPLC has assigned to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

First, a little background information:

  1. There is no legal definition for “hate group.” As abhorrent as most people would find the words and deeds of many of these groups, it is important to remember that it is entirely legal to belong to any of them. This is why the FBI and local law enforcement cannot act against them until they actually break the law, or appear to be on the verge of doing so.This observation is not to be interpreted as any kind of endorsement for any group, but a reminder that as soon as individuals decide that “it’s okay to punch a Nazi,” it is only a matter of time before it’s okay to punch someone who “looks like a Nazi,” or “sounds like a Nazi,” or drives a Volkswagen, etc.Sooner or later, someone will decide that YOU must be a Nazi.Until just recently, the SPLC’s “Hate Map” tool always included the boilerplate disclaimer that:

    Listing here does not imply a group advocates or engages in violence or other criminal activity.”

    That disclaimer went away a couple years ago, leaving the donors to come to their own conclusions. Another SPLC claim that was attached to every new “Hate Map” until recently read:

    Hate group activities can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing.”

    The very idea that an organization purporting to defend civil rights would deliberately conflate six of the most fundamental, constitutionally protected First Amendment rights with “criminal acts” and “hate group activities” is beyond comprehension.

  2. The SPLC’s definition of a “hate group” is intentionally broad, so that the company can apply it as widely as possible, as we will shortly see:“All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”“Attack or malign” is too imprecise to be useful, and, as we have pointed out repeatedly in the past, is all too often applied selectively by the SPLC, so as not to offend the almighty donors.Due to the lack of an official or universal definition for “hate group,” the media and donors rely on the SPLC’s claims, thereby making the company the sole arbiter of that extremely lucrative label ($111 million donor-dollars in 2018, $130 million in 2017, way up from a mere $50 million for 2016). 
  3. The SPLC’s definition of “group” is criminally broad to the point of outright fraud. The company has no benchmark for determining how many people actually constitute a “group,” and makes no verifiable estimates of how many members a “group” might actually have.Laird Wilcox, one of the most respected researchers on the Hate Industry, noted nearly 20 years ago:“What [the SPLC] apparently did was list any group they could find mention of, including groups only rumored to exist. These included the large number of “post office box chapters” maintained by Klan and skinhead organizations. Some Christian Identity “ministries” consist only one person and a mailing list and many “patriot groups” consist of but three or four friends.”More recently, in 2015, Mark Pitcavage of the Anti-Defamation League repeated Wilcox’s findings in the South Jersey Times:“According to Mark Pitcavage, director of investigative research at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) the SPLC has a habit of counting single individuals as groups or chapters, which can give a skewed impression of hate groups in any given state.”

    “The [SPLC’s] list is wildly inflated,” said Pitcavage. “They list skinhead groups in places where there are no organized groups, but instead it’s just a couple of individuals.”

     

  4. In addition to numerous PO box “groups,” the SPLC’s “Hate Map” is loaded with one-man websites, something the company has denied counting for years:”Websites appearing to be merely the work of a single individual, rather than the publication of a group, are not included in this list. “The 2017 “Hate Map” included this disclaimer, which was subsequently dropped for the most recent, 2018 map:“Entities that appear to exist only in cyberspace are not included because they are likely to be individual Web publishers who likely to falsely portray themselves as powerful, organized froups [sic].”Also in 2017, long-time SPLC frontman Mark Potok was claiming that: “We make a big effort to separate a man, his dog and a computer from a group with on-the-ground activity.”

    In February, 2019, the SPLC’s new outreach director, Kate Chance, told a gathering in Mankato, Minnesota: “An online presence isn’t enough to be added to the list; a group has to meet at least once a year at a physical location.”

    As we shall see in our examination of Virginia’s SPLC-designated “hate groups” below, these claims are patently and demonstrably false.

The Southern Poverty Law Center assigned 39 “hate groups” to Virginia for 2018. Using basic Internet search skills that any journalist or donor could easily duplicate, we searched for information on each group.

While thorough, we do not in any way claim that these searches are infallible or that other information may not be available elsewhere. If any readers have verifiable information on any of these groups, please contact us through the Comments section at the end of this post.

Better still, since the SPLC is known to monitor this blog, perhaps they would be willing to show their work and share their information with the world and their donors.

Big claims, after all, demand big proof, or any proof, for that matter.

To simplify our results, we broke our findings into three basic sections. The first consists of alleged “groups” where either a physical address could be identified, or those where no information could be found whatsoever.

The second section identifies “groups” that appear to exist only as websites. The last section contains alleged “groups” that the SPLC has designated only as “statewide,” a dubious device that we will explore further in detail.

VaGroups2018-3

Group One

As our Group One results indicate, we were only able to identify five alleged groups with verifiable physical addresses. Using Google Maps street view tool, we were able to identify brick-and-mortar locations with appropriate signage.

Using this tool, we were able to eliminate several other groups listing physical addresses on their websites when those addresses turned out to be private mail forwarding services, such as the UPS Store.

It’s worth noting that the advocacy group, ProEnglish, has been residing in Washington, DC, since at least 2017, according to the Internet Archive’s amazing Wayback Machine, and should not be on Virginia’s list to begin with.

In fact, whether or not you agree with ProEnglish’s stated mission to make English the official language of all federal and state governments, the argument is a legitimate political position, which in no way “attacks or maligns” anyone. Calling the organization a “hate group” because you disagree with the position is disingenuous at best, especially since the vast majority of the world’s nations have one or more official languages.

Three of Virginia’s alleged Black Nationalist groups had verifiable addresses as well. The rhetoric of the Nation of Islam’s leadership clearly falls within most people’s definition of anti-Semitism.

Seventy-six of the 264 Black Nationalist groups the SPLC designated nationwide last year are Nation of Islam mosques, but surprisingly, the company does not consider them to be “Muslim hate groups,” as that would clash with their more lucrative “anti-Muslim hate group” category.

The largest single alleged anti-Muslim group on the map is ACT for America, at 47 iterations, but the national website no longer tracks local units and all new members must sign on as individual activists. If the SPLC can show proof of the locations of any of their ACT groups we’d be very interested in seeing it.

It’s also noteworthy that Virginia’s remaining Black Nationalist “groups” are Black Israelite churches, who are “hateful” because, as the SPLC notes, “Some religious versions assert that black people are the biblical “chosen people” of God.”

Think about that for a moment.

VaGroups2018-Full

Group Two

Group Two of our results are those for which nothing could be found beyond a website and Post Office or Private Mail Box (PMB). While people may gain access to these “groups” through their websites or snail mail, there was nothing on any of the sites to indicate any extensive jackboots-on-the-ground, with one glaring exception.

The Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation (FGF), whose mission since 2003 has been “…to promote and preserve the glorious traditions and culture of Western civilization and Christianity,” invited its members to join them this past February for a magnificent “Evening of Viennese Waltzing” in DC.

Waltzing

If Western Civilization and Christianity were not enough to trigger SPLC donors, a night of waltzing would be money in the bank.

The event previous to the Grand Ball was an 80th birthday tribute to publisher Jon Utley in 2014 and a PowerPoint presentation from 2011.

VDARE and American Renaissance are both online blogs. Washington Summit Publishers, IHS Press and even FGF are online booksellers. In the Spirit of Chartres Committee, “Dedicated to promoting and defending Pre-Vatican II Catholic social teachings…,” offers books like Ethics and the National Economy and Catholicism, Protestantism, and Capitalism, as well as DVDs of lectures recorded in the early 2000s.

The American Immigration Control Foundation is located in picturesque Monterey, Virginia (population 156), which is also home to one of the best maple syrup festivals this side of northern New England. There is more of hotcakes than “hotbeds” in that part of the world.

Red Ice, as its website explains, “delivers videos” and offers “an alternative to the mainstream, covering politics and social issues from a pro-European perspective.” Based in Sweden, they recently announced a presence in Harrisonburg, Va, but the address given is for a UPS Store in a strip mall, and their website ISP is registered in Montreal, Canada.

Harrisonburg is a college town and the local colleges and universities compete nationwide for the best students. Does the town really deserve to be tarnished with a “hate group” over a private mail box for a foreign website?

In all, 15 of Virginia’s alleged “hate groups” appear to exist only as online entities. We won’t pretend that some, perhaps many, will find their content to be offensive, but it is still protected speech and do one or two social Neanderthals running a website really constitute a “group”?

Is it really “attacking and maligning” when you have to physically search these “groups” out in order to be properly outraged?

Perhaps the biggest question would be how many people would ever have heard of these “groups” without the free worldwide publicity generated by the SPLC?

VaGroups2018-Statewide

Group Three

Our last section deals with those alleged “hate groups” the SPLC has merely designated as “statewide,” without even going through the motions of making up an alleged city or town.

As many Watching the Watchdogs readers are painfully aware, our primary focus is to get out the word that the SPLC’s “statewide” designation is worthless for verifying any claims about these groups. As the data provided above demonstrates, even the inclusion of a known location is no guarantee that a “group” actually exists there.

Imagine telling someone that your organization had identified hundreds of active UFO bases across this great land of ours.

“Great Scott!,” they might exclaim. “Where are they?”

“We found 17 in Georgia, 23 in Wisconsin, four more in Rhode Island…”

“This is incredible news! You have to take us there!”

“Um, well, we don’t actually know WHERE the sites are, but we sure as heck know that they are really out there. Trust us!”

People would throw rocks at you, and rightly so. Tell the same folks that you found hundreds of invisible “hate groups,” with no verifiable proof whatsoever, though, and they will throw millions of donor-dollars at you instead.

Incredible news, indeed. Literally.

Nationwide, fully 322 of the 1,020 “hate groups” designated by the SPLC for 2018 are “statewide” phantoms. That works out to one-in-three, just as it does with Virginia’s alleged count. In many states, 80-, 90- and even a full 100% of the groups designated are homeless “statewide” phantoms.

The SPLC padded its “Hate Map” with 107 brand new “statewide” phantoms in 2017 alone. And nobody in the Media said a word.

Just for fun, check out how some of Virginia’s invisible “groups” fare across the country:

VaGroups2018-Statewide-Nationwide

Nationwide “Statewide Groups”

In all, 153 of 194 alleged “groups” turn out to be “statewide” across the country, or, once again, roughly one-in-three. Do you see a pattern here?

We found this exercise to be illuminating and we hope you did as well. As mentioned, we plan on examining the “hate groups” designated to several other states, though we will skip the lengthy preamble next time and get right to the meat.

It is our intention to pass this information along to the Attorney General of Virginia’s consumer fraud division. Considering the hundreds of millions of dollars the Southern Poverty Law Center takes in from peddling these faulty figures, the matter deserves to be brought to the attention of the proper legal authorities.

Maybe that will induce the SPLC to show its work. If they have the proof in hand already, how hard can it be?

 

The SPLC’s Outright Telemarketing Scam

February 27, 2015

One month ago, we gave the Southern Poverty Law Center the benefit of the doubt concerning their dubious telemarketing practices. Today, with the release of their 2014 IRS Form 990 tax report, we cannot cover for their outright telemarketing scam any longer.

Here is the SPLC’s IRS Form 990 for the fiscal year ending October 31, 2014.

Click Image to Enlarge

Click Image to Enlarge

For the fourth consecutive year, SPLC Founder Morris Dees, who bills himself as a “sound steward” of the donors’ money has deliberately scammed tens of thousands of well-meaning donors through his network of paid telemarketing rip-off artists.

To wit, for the past four years Mr. Dees has continued his relationship with Grassroots Campaigns of Boston, Mass, despite the horrific hemorrhaging of donor dollars. Grassroots has cost the SPLC hundreds of thousands, and even millions of dollars each year for their fundraising efforts:

2011:  -$212,214

2012:  -$869,686

2013: -$1,156,765

2014:  -$1,130,680

How in the world can Mr. Dees continue to deal with a company that has blatantly siphoned $3,369,345 donor-dollars out of his coffers over the past four years? These horrendous figures more than wipe out every dollar raised by his other telemarketing cronies, not that that amounted to all that much.

Checking out Telefund, Inc. of Denver, we see that they raised $561,102 in the name of the SPLC  in 2014, and only pocketed $422,292 in fees, leaving the SPLC $138,811, or a whopping 25% of the donation money.

Did anyone tell the donors that Telefund was pocketing three quarters of their donor-dollars?

But that’s all chump change compared to the experts at Harris Marketing group, who raised $213,694 in the name of the SPLC and “fighting hate,” and only pocketed $192,928, or a mere 90% of the money donated over the phone.

And yet, Morris Dees could not be happier with the results because Grassroots, Telefund and Harris all sold their information to him. For mere pennies on the dollar, Mr. Dees buys solid donor leads that he can feed into his own uber-efficient in-house fundraising machine at 100% profit down the road.

Best of all, it was the stupid donors who unwittingly paid to have their information sold to Mr. Dees. You really cannot beat that for “stewardship.”

Dees will lose money on the deal this year, but it’s nothing compared to the tens of millions he stands to gain from these donors over the coming decades.

But think about it. In 2014, Mo Dees paid $2,537,027 to third-party telemarketers to raise $1,979,272 in donor-dollars, meaning that the telemarketers kept every last dime they solicited over the phone in the name of the SPLC as well as an additional $557,755 out of the SPLC’s existing donor till

THIS is “sound stewardship?”  At $100 dollars apiece “only” 25,370 of the 2014 donors got screwed out of their donations. A mere pittance. At $50 dollars a pop the number jumps to more than 50,000 suckers, and yet, Mo Dees calls this “sound stewardship?”

Justify it anyway you want, but at least 25,000 well-meaning donors got screwed out of their money, just as they have for the past four years.

It’s time that the media and the IRS investigates the criminal scamming of the Southern Poverty Law Center. This is nothing less than blatant fraud. Selling the suckers one thing and giving them something far less.

SPLC — “There’s No Trial Like a Show Trial!”

December 7, 2012

**** UPDATE – 1/4/13 **** Once again, the best source of information on the SPLC’s ham-fisted fundraising tactics is the SPLC’s own website. Under the “Docket” tab on the SPLC’s home page you can find the actual complaint against JONAH, again, something that no Media outlet could bother to do.

According to the 28-page document, the actual lawyers handling the suit are Lite DePalma Greenberg of Newark, NJ, who bill themselves “…as the pre-eminent New Jersey firm for litigation of complex class actions in the areas of securities fraud, antitrust, and consumer fraud.” Sounds like they know what they’re doing.

The SPLC is listed on the complaint as having requested pro hac vice status, which “refers to the application of an out-of-state lawyer to appear in court for a particular trial, even though he/she is not licensed to practice in the state where the trial is being held.”

Now, why exactly would New Jersey’s pre-eminent fraud attorneys require the assistance of an Alabama civil rights law firm, who are not licensed to practice law in the Garden State, especially when you consider that the term “civil rights” does not even appear in the 28-page complaint??

(The same question can be asked of Faegre Baker Daniels, the law firm handling the copyright infringement case filed in Denver on behalf of the New Jersey gay couple. FBD is one of the highest ranked Intellectual Property law firms in the country, and again, the term “civil rights” appears nowhere in the actual legal complaint.)

The short answer, the blindingly obvious answer, is that neither law firm requires the services of the Southern Poverty Law Center of Montgomery, Alabama.  The SPLC brings nothing to these cases except publicity, and since that publicity is a) highly favorable to their clients’ lawsuits, and b) absolutely free, (The SPLC would never accept a dime in legal fees…), any sharp lawyer would take full advantage of the opportunity.

What’s in it for the SPLC? According to the American Bar Association, the application fees for pro hac vice status run to a maximum of $186 dollars a year in New Jersey, and $250 in Colorado. All of the attorneys assigned to the two cases are already on the SPLC payroll, and even if the pro hac vice fees apply to all four of them you’re looking at a cost of just $808 dollars.

Now Google the term SPLC gay lawsuit (the search works even better if you enclose it in parentheses) and see how many hits you get. We came up with 299,000 hits, but since Google tailors its results to specific users your results may vary. Check out who’s carrying the stories: “mainstream” media outlets like ABC, CNN, Twitter, as well as hundreds of local newspapers and television station web sites. Not surprisingly, the stories have been picked up by countless LGBT web sites and even a number of prominent Jewish sites, due to JONAH’s Jewish origins.

You try buying that much publicity for $800 bucks…

If you notice a certain “sameness” in the “reporting,” that’s just because almost every site is simply regurgitating the highly polished press releases issued by the SPLC’s Public Relations chief, Mark Potok. And all of them claim that the SPLC is somehow “fighting hate” by associating itself in these simple civil suits. The LGBT community includes a lot of financially well-off, Progressive-leaning members who are no more or less prone to investigating the SPLC’s claims than anyone else.

In short, they are the perfect demographic for Mr. Potok and his fundraising minions. The SPLC won’t take a dime in legal fees because they’d probably have to pay taxes on that income, but donations are exquisitely tax-free.

Vaya con dinero!

************************

[Original post] More “mission creep” from “the nation’s leading civil rights organization.” In October, we at WTW noted that the Southern Poverty Law Center was taking on the case of a New Jersey gay couple whose engagement photo had been appropriated by a conservative political group who used the image in campaign ads in Colorado.

The facts in that case are pretty straight-forward: The political group used the photo without the permission of the couple or the photographer, who holds the copyright to the photo.

It’s a copyright infringement case. Nothing more. The plaintiffs are not indigent and there is no shortage of qualified attorneys in New Jersey.

Fast forward to December and the SPLC are back in New Jersey, this time, going after a non-profit group that claims it can “cure” gay Jewish men of being gay. According to SPLC attorney Sam Wolfe, the group Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), deliberately duped a number of gay Jewish men into believing that their homosexuality was a mental aberration that could be “cured” through therapy. Wolfe made his case by stating:

“We found our plaintiffs’ experiences with JONAH to be compelling and even shocking in terms of the types of techniques and misrepresentations the defendants were luring these men into their programs with.”

Wolfe continues:

“People are paying for these services under false pretenses. They are believing and trusting that these counselors know what they are doing, but in fact, they don’t.”

What exactly does “the nation’s leading civil rights organization” propose to do for the plaintiffs in the case? Under New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act, Wolfe is “…seeking triple monetary damages to cover the cost of “legitimate therapy” and attorneys’ fees.” A case worth thousands of dollars, maybe tens of thousands.

So, were anyone’s civil rights violated here? Not so much. All of the plaintiffs enrolled in the JONAH program of their own free will. In at least two cases, the adult plaintiff’s fees were paid by their mothers, so these were not the isolated victims of some secretive cult. Again, none of the plaintiffs are indigent.

No civil rights violations. Can you call “antisemitism” when all the parties involved are Jewish? What you have is a cut-and-dried fraud suit, or possibly a malpractice case, but at the end of the day, there is no “hate” going on here, and damn little poverty.

So what does the Southern Poverty Law Center bring to this case and the copyright infringement suit? Publicity. Nothing more. As noted above, there is no shortage of qualified fraud attorneys in New Jersey. The SPLC brings in the publicity and their ace Public Relations guru, Mark Potok, will spin that publicity into gold. Donor gold.

Does the SPLC run any risks by suing a Jewish organization, considering how many of its top donors are Jewish? Again, not so much. JONAH is operated by conservative Orthodox Jews, who are far less likely to donate money to the SPLC than their progressive coreligionists. The rest of the donor base, especially wealthy gay donors, will see this as a gay issue first and a Jewish issue second, if at all.

SPLC founder Morris Dees made his first fortune in direct-mail marketing in the early 1960s. The Maestro, who was inducted into the Direct Marketing Association’s “Hall of Fame” for his fundraising prowess, knows an opportunity for cheap publicity when he sees it. Truly, there is no trial like a show trial for gulling the gullible donors.


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