Posts Tagged ‘IRS’

SPLC — Doubling down on the “Trump Effect”

November 29, 2016

In February of this year, Watching the Watchdogs reported on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s thinly disguised attack on then-candidate Donald Trump that claimed that “election-related” harassment of immigrant and minority children was surging in the public schools due to Trump’s caustic rhetoric. They called the report “The Trump Effect.”

At that time we noted that the SPLC, like all 501(c)(3) nonprofits, was strictly prohibited by IRS tax regulations from promoting or denouncing political candidates during a campaign. The SPLC slid around that regulation by claiming that it had “collected 5,000 comments from 2,000 educators” who responded to an online survey created by the company’s “Teaching Tolerance” wing, which purports to promote diversity in the K-12 classroom.

See, it wasn’t the SPLC attacking Trump, they were simply repeating what they were told by the 2,000 respondents. Get it?

As usual, the Media obediently regurgitated the SPLC’s nonsense without performing even the most rudimentary fact checks, with many of them transmogrifying the company’s claim of “2,000 respondents” into “a survey of 2,000 teachers” and the term “harassment” into “hate crimes.”

What most media outlets conveniently ignored was the clearly stated disclaimer on the “Trump Effect” web page that:

“Our survey of approximately 2,000 K-12 teachers was not scientific. Our email subscribers and those who visit our website are not a random sample of teachers nationally and those who chose to respond to our survey are likely to be those who are most concerned about the impact of the presidential campaign on their students and schools.”

Not only did the SPLC publicly state that their “survey” was not scientific because the respondents were not chosen at random, they can’t even verify that the alleged responses came from actual “educators.”

The same document also notes that “Teaching Tolerance magazine is sent to over 400,000 educators, reaching nearly every school in the country,” and yet the entire “report” is based on only 2,000 anonymous, unverifiable responses?

Either 398,000 “educators” ignored the survey email or the SPLC cherry-picked 2,000 “reliable” people who would give the “right answers.”

Either way, given the widespread media coverage given the “Trump Effect” the reaction among the donors must have been fantastic.

Never one to let a good thing go, on November 28, the SPLC doubled down on its “Trump Effect” cash cow by releasing a new and improved version of the “report,” this time freed from any IRS election-related restrictions.

The new report now claims that “Over 10,000 teachers, counselors, administrators and others who work in schools have responded,” with “more than 25,000 comments.”

As if stung by Watching the Watchdogs‘ observation that all of the alleged responses in the first “report” were anecdotal, anonymous and completely unverifiable, the company made a point of claiming that:

“Nearly all respondents identified themselves by name, email address, grade level and state. More than 1,500 signified a willingness to go on record by giving permission for Teaching Tolerance to share their contact information with the media.”

Despite this apparent willingness to actually document their claims, the 2.0 version of the “Trump Effect” is accompanied by alleged claims by the anonymous likes of “High School Teacher, New York,” and “Elementary School Teacher, Minnesota.” There’s not a single claim backed up the willing 1,500 mentioned above.

And while the company buried its disclaimer a little deeper into the text this time, the song remains the same:

“The results of this survey are not scientific. The respondents were not selected in a manner to ensure a representative sample; those who responded may have been more likely to perceive problems than those who did not.”

Once again, the “report” duly notes that “Teaching Tolerance magazine is sent to more than 400,000 educators, reaching nearly every school in the country,” and yet only 10,000 “educators” allegedly responded.

It’s worth noting that the National Center for Education Statistics estimates that there were more than 3.5 million full-time teachers in the US in 2014, the latest statistical year, meaning that less than three-tenths of a percent of them responded to the SPLC’s open “survey,” anonymously or otherwise. You do the math.

In the long run, it really doesn’t matter. The Media is already regurgitating the SPLC’s “10,000 educator” claims as fact the day after the “report” was released. Even though the company clearly states that its numbers are “not scientific” and has yet to produce one single verifiable respondent, the Media will repeat every last claim as if it were true.

Well played, SPLC. No doubt we’ll see record-breaking donation figures in your next IRS Form 990, as well as much-deserved raises in the six-digit salaries your all-white executives are pulling down.

In the meantime, Watching The Watchdogs will continue to watch and to document your latest fundraising antics. You read it here first.


Is the SPLC violating its tax-exempt status?

July 16, 2011

Online news sources and the Blogosphere have been touting another SPLC “report” recently. As usual, most of these sources simply regurgitate SPLC fund-raising propaganda without even bothering to look at the numbers.

Electoral Extremism: 23 Candidates on the Radical Right purports to identify 23 evil racists who were trying to spread their particular brands of “hate” via the ballot box in 2010. The SPLC trots out the usual epithets to describe these heinous characters; everything from “anti-immigration” to “Neo-Confederate,” (whatever that means), to Rand Paul’s crime against humanity… “Right-wing Libertarian.”

As usual, the thrust of the SPLC’s hit piece is to scare the Old Folks into believing that Armageddon is right around the corner and only their generous checks stand between them and the Forces of Evil.

No matter that all of these candidates, (with the possible exception of ex-con Tom Metzger) have every legal right to run for any office they choose, regardless of what their viewpoints are. The SPLC, which claims to be the guardian of justice, isn’t real big on the Democratic process unless it happens to be processing a Democrat.

A key example: On July 5, the Blogosphere reported that former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke was considering another run for the White House, leading an unnamed SPLC spokeswonk to comment: ” “We’ve seen increasing numbers of white supremacists and others on the radical right running for electoral office for several years now.”

Oddly enough, in March of this year, former KKK Grand Dragon John Paul Rogers ran for Mayor of Lake Wales, Florida, yet the SPLC had no comment on his candidacy. In fact, even though Rogers served as Grand Dragon of the United Klans of America, the very group that SPLC founder Morris Dees “brought to its knees” by taking away its $52,000 barn, you won’t find Rogers’ name on the SPLC web site.

Why not? Because Grand Dragon Rogers ran as a DEMOCRAT…

After all, the SPLC states that “Hate group activities can include…  marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing,” which are the keystones to the entire US election process for candidates of ALL political parties.

A closer look at the “radical” roster shows just how close the Land of the Free came to succumbing to the forces of evil.

Jeffrey Stankiewicz: 654 votes

Ryan J. Murdough:  297 votes

Billy Roper: 49 votes

Tom Metzger: 10 votes

Frazier G. Miller: 7 votes

And even Norm Olson, who withdrew before the election, thus garnering ZERO votes, is lumped in to help pad out the numbers.

Overall, 43% of the candidates failed to break into double-digit territory as a percentage of the votes cast, and four of them didn’t even break the single digit barrier. Some threat to Democracy, no?

Now this kind of baseless fear-mongering is the SPLC’s stock and trade. It’s the kind of demi-lie that convinces tens of thousands of people to send in tens of millions of tax-free donor-dollars, so this is no surprise. But the SPLC’s latest plunge into political waters raises some interesting questions.

On September 28, 1971, Morris Dees’ newborn “civil rights organization” received a special document, literally, a “golden ticket.” It was on that date that the IRS issued Millionaire Mo with his 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. It is this innocuous scrap of paper that has allowed the SPLC to amass hundreds of millions of dollars without paying a single dime in taxes.

Now there’s always a catch, even with golden tickets, and for the 501(c)(3) the IRS stipulates that:

“For an organization to be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) it cannot “participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements) any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”

“The regulations provide that activities that constitute participation or intervention in a political campaign include, but are not limited to, the publication or distribution of written or printed statements or the making of oral statements on behalf of or in opposition to a candidate for public office. Reg. 1.501(c)(3)-1(c)(3)(iii).”

“Basically, a finding of campaign intervention in an issue advertisement requires more than just a positive or negative correspondence between an organization’s position and a candidate’s position. What is required is that there must be some reasonably overt indication in the communication to the reader, viewer, or listener that the organization supports or opposes a particular candidate (or slate of candidates) in an election; rather than being a message restricted to an issue.”

The SPLC’s rant against these candidates has nothing to do with any stated issues. Rather, just as with the SPLC’s designation of the meaningless “hate group” smear, the SPLC’s problem with these “…extremists, radicals and dangerous ideologues…” is simply that these people have wrong thoughts.

This is a blatant violation of the IRS rules governing 501 (30)(c) tax-exempt organizations and Watching the Watchdogs is taking the issue directly to the IRS and asking for a ruling.

Remember… It wasn’t the FBI that took down Al Capone… It was the IRS.

Popping the tax-exempt status on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s bloated $216 MILLION dollar cash cow would go a long way to relieve a lot of poverty.

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