Posts Tagged ‘Rhonda Brownstein’

SPLC — Hate Map 2020 — Trump Crushes “Hate Groups”!!!

February 19, 2021

Recently the Southern Poverty Law Center released its annual “Hate Map” fundraising tool, which purports to identify “hate groups” in the US from the previous fiscal year. As usual, it’s full of unvetted claims and outright obfuscations, but like its thirty predecessors, going back to 1990, the “Hate Map” tool is guaranteed to bring in tens of millions of tax-free donor dollars.

The SPLC will be releasing its latest IRS Form 990 shortly, so we’ll get to see how much 2020’s haul from the donors was soon enough. If recent totals are any indication, it should be another hefty year for the company’s coffers:

2019: $117 million
2018: $122 million
2017: $133 million
2016: $53 million*

Before we get into the latest numbers we need to repeat some boilerplate information for our many new readers.

  1. There is no legal definition for a “hate group,” which is why even the FBI does not, cannot designate “hate groups.” There isn’t even a universal definition for “hate,” so what exactly is the SPLC allegedly tracking?
  2. The SPLC’s own spurious definition, “All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics” essentially boils down to “All hate groups say mean things about other groups,” is so intentionally elastic that it can be applied to almost anyone.
  3. In 2019, Senior US District Court Judge Myron Thompson ruled that the SPLC’s “hate group” label is merely the company’s “opinion,” and therefore protected by the First Amendment.
  4. The Southern Poverty Law Center, Inc. is a private 501(c)3 tax-exempt corporation. It has no mandate, no authority, legal or moral, to designate anyone as anything. Again, such designations are merely the company’s “opinion.”

    The company receives no external review or oversight
    . In 1994, the SPLC’s hometown newspaper, the Montgomery Advertiser, ran a 10-day exposé of the company which revealed that its Board of Directors was packed with cronies and employees of SPLC founder, Morris Dees. Some of these rubber-stampers were still on the Board some twenty-five years later, at the time of Dees’ firing under allegations of long-term sexual harassment of female employees.
  5. Mark Potok, the SPLC’s Intelligence Director for twenty years and the creator of the “Hate Map” tool has stated repeatedly that:

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

    “…a “hate group” has nothing to do with criminality… [or] potential for violence…” Rather, as Potok put it, “It’s all about ideology.”

    Hate group activities can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing.” (Seriously. The SPLC deliberately conflates six of the most fundamental civil rights protected by the First Amendment with “criminal acts” and “hate group activities.”)

    Websites appearing to be merely the work of a single individual, rather than the publication of a group, are not included in this list.” (SPLC Hate Map, 2015)

    “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.” (SPLC Outreach Director Kate Chance, Feb. 21, 2019)

    Let me first of all say, that we do the “hate group” map and the counts, and so on, as a very rough measure… It’s an imperfect process.”

    “The numbers are absolutely soft,” said Mark Potok, a Southern Poverty Law Center spokesman. “We are talking about a tiny number of Americans who are members of hate groups – I mean, infinitesimal.” (Arlene Levinson, “Hate Groups, Crimes Said Rare in US,” Associated Press, July 8, 1999).

    “We see this political struggle, right? …I mean we’re not trying to change anybody’s mind. We’re trying to wreck the groups, and we are very clear in our head, this is… we are trying to destroy them. Not to send them to prison unfairly or not take their free speech rights away… but as a political matter, to destroy them.”  (Holiday, 2008, track 13, https://archive.org/details/MarkPotok).

    “I don’t think there’s any doubt that these are human beings and it’s a mistake to regard them as just a bunch of sociopaths… though most of them are. Let me say… our aim… sometimes the press will describe us as monitoring hate groups and so on. I want to say plainly that our aim in life is to destroy these groups. Completely destroy them!” (Sept. 2007,  https://youtu.be/fnTz2ylJo_8)

    So what we really see out there in terms of violence from the radical right is by and large what we would call lone wolves, people operating on their own or with just one or two partners. As opposed to, you know, being some kind of organizational plan.”

And there you have it, right from the experts at the SPLC themselves. By the way, we know that the SPLC is staffed by “experts” because it clearly says so on the company’s website and fundraising literature. Let’s wade in and have a look at this latest “report.”

First off, 2020’s “hate group” count is down by 11% from 2019, from 940 to 838. Ups and downs like this are not unusual for the SPLC. As the sole arbiter of the insanely lucrative “hate group” label, the company can set the level anywhere it pleases and nobody in the Media will ask to see any proof whatsoever.

In 2011, the SPLC designated 1,018 alleged “hate groups,” an all-time record high which they naturally attributed to “A Black Man in the White House.” By 2014, halfway into President Obama’s second term, the number mysteriously plummeted to 784, a loss of 23%.

How can this be? It’s simple. The SPLC is keenly aware of “donor fatigue,” which is why they stopped taking Death Row appeal cases in the 1970s. The donors will gladly swallow claims of 1,018 “hate groups,” but it’s hard to keep the hysteria alive from year to year. Therefore, the SPLC will voluntarily cut back its “hate group” totals so that in a year or two it can sound the alarums about “explosive growth in hate” when they jack the numbers up again in some future campaign.

In 2018, “hate groups” allegedly set a new “all time record high” under President Trump. What the company neglected to mention was that, at 1,020, the new “record” was only two groups higher than President Obama’s numbers in 2011. The donors didn’t remember and the Media didn’t care. The excuse for 2020’s decline was exactly the same as for 2014, “hate groups are going online.”

The sheer beauty of the “online” canard is that there is no possible way to prove or disprove it. This is the same logic behind the SPLC’s oft-repeated claims that Donald Trump somehow “emboldened hate groups.” It’s a throwaway claim that perpetuates the company’s Fear and Outrage campaign with absolutely no risk that anyone in the Media is going to ask to see the evidence (not that anyone in the Media ever would).

Another HUGE fact to remember about the “Hate Map” is what the SPLC likes to designate as “Statewide” groups. “Statewide” simply refers to alleged groups for which the SPLC provides no corroborating information whatsoever. Not so much as a known city or town, or anything that a donor or journalist could use to verify the claim. Nothing.

The SPLC has been using “statewide” phantoms to pad out its numbers for decades. It’s a brilliant fundraising strategy. For example, the SPLC claims 42 alleged chapters of the Patriot Front for 2020, with one in Washington, DC, and the other 41 parceled out as “statewide” entities across various states. No evidence, no proof required. Thirty-five of the SPLC’s 36 Racist Skinhead groups are “statewide” phantoms! That’s 97% of the claim and nobody in the Media will challenge it.

Better still, when compared from year to year, the percentage of “statewide” phantoms in any one category continues to increase. As the chart below indicates (click to enlarge) in 2017 “only” 39% of alleged Ku Klux Klan chapters were “statewide” phantoms, but by 2020 they accounted for nearly half. In 2017, 35% of alleged White Nationalist “groups” were homeless. By 2020 the number had jumped to 61%. The company is losing its “hate groups” faster than it can designate them.

“Statewide” phantoms since 2017 – Click to Enlarge

While the SPLC would prefer that people (donors) forget about previous claims, we like to keep track of such things. You never know what the experts at the SPLC are going to tell you over time. For example, in the chart above, alleged group counts in red indicate an increase from the previous year. Those highlighted in yellow indicate a decline and those in blue indicate no change at all from the previous year. Since 2017 the decreases have outnumbered the increases significantly, and even the increases are fairly minor compared to the previous year, with one glaring exception.

For 2020, the SPLC stopped counting Black and Black Muslim “hate groups” as “Black hate groups.” While it’s perfectly acceptable, even righteous, to count White Nationalist “groups” because they believe that whites are superior to non-whites, and Christian Identity “groups” because they believe that Christians are superior to heathen non-believers, you can’t draw attention to your 70-odd Nation of Islam chapters as “hate groups,” even though their racial and religious identities form the entire bases of their association. It confuses the donors, which is bad for business.

You see, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Black people aren’t like other human beings and must be treated differently. Black “hate” isn’t really hate and the fact that Black “hate groups” are the largest single and fastest growing category on the map was proving to be problematic.

As with previous years, 2020’s 264 alleged Black “hate groups” outnumbered all 252 of the SPLC’s KKK, neo-Nazi, racist skinhead and white nationalist groups for that year COMBINED.

When you strip out the homeless “statewide” phantoms from both sides, that ratio jumps to 3.5-to-1, or 252 to 82. What were the donors to make of that?

The solution was simplicity itself. If “Black hate groups” are the problem, simply call them something else, otherwise you’d have to erase another 32% of your groups from the map.

So for 2020, the SPLC’s 264 alleged “Black hate groups” and 7 alleged Holocaust Denial “groups were shoved into the delightfully generic “General Hate” category. They are still the same groups, with a few extras thrown in, but they’re not Black anymore. Get it?

This creative accounting brings up another fascinating factoid: According to the SPLC’s own dire numbers, and despite five straight years of hysterical claims that “Donald Trump empowers hate groups!!!,” it turns out that nearly every single category of SPLC-designated “hate group” has DECLINED since 2017, i.e., during the Trump administration. Behold!

“Hate Group” declines under Trump – Click to Enlarge

Granted, claiming that all Black and Holocaust denial “groups” simply evaporated during Donald Trump’s watch is inherently disingenuous, but while the Holocausters remained steady at seven alleged chapters, Black “hate groups” actually increased by 4% in 2020 and when those numbers are returned to their traditional categories the bloated General Hate category actually decreased by 21% over the previous year.

Remember folks, these are the SPLC’s own impeccable numbers, not ours.

Speaking of numbers, how many hate-filled individuals does it actually take to compose a “group”? Obviously, the SPLC isn’t going to come right and say “X-number or more” because that would require, you know, proof. Let’s see what the experts have to say, starting off with Mark Potok again:

“Potok says inclusion on the list might come from a minor presence, such as a post office box.” (www.sanluisobispo.com, March 25, 2009)

“Potok acknowledged that some of the groups may be small and said it is impossible for outsiders to gauge the membership of most of the groups.” (David Crary, Associated Press Online, March 10, 2008)

In 2015, Mark Potok assigned 40 “hate groups” to New Jersey, (a state that doesn’t get enough negative publicity as it is…), giving that state the fourth highest total in the land and causing Mark Pitcavage of the Anti-Defamation League to publicly denounce the SPLC’s bogus counts.

“The Southern Poverty Law Center’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.”

After being publicly outed by the ADL, the SPLC slashed New Jersey’s count from 40 to 21 on the next “Hate Map,” which was not issued until a full fundraising year later.

In 2017, Mr. Potok’s successor as Intelligence Director, Heidi Beirich, read a single online post on a Klan website by an individual who said he lived in the town of Gurnee, Illinois. That was all it took for Gurnee to earn its very own Scarlet H “hate group” designation.

That same year, Ms. Beirich read another anonymous blog post by an individual who opined that Amana, Iowa would be a great place to hold a neo-Nazi meeting and… wait for it… Amana had a “hate group.” That’s all it took. In fact, no meeting of neo-Nazis ever took place in 2017 or since.

What makes the Amana case even more ludicrous is that the village was founded by German Pietist immigrants in the 1840s, who later formed the Amana appliance corporation in the 1930s. The Amana Colonies exist today as a popular tourist destination listed on the US National Register of Historic Places. Amana is populated by costumed interpreters who demonstrate 19th century farm life.

Both Amana and Gurnee are heavily dependent on tourism, with the latter employing some 3,000 people at its Six Flags location. Who would take their family to a town with an “SPLC-certified hate group”? According to Politico, when the mayors of both villages complained to the SPLC they were met with indifferent shrugs and informed that the company’s “hate group” numbers are fixed and cannot be changed until the new map comes out the following year.

Amana did receive a reprieve of sorts, when Ms. Beirich reluctantly agreed to move the fictitious neo-Nazi group-of-one from Amana to “Statewide,” but Iowa maintained all four of its alleged “hate groups” for the entire year.

Not only is the “Hate Map” populated by numerous one-man “groups,” the list is also rife with one-man websites, something the company categorically states that it does not count. Remember their claim, “Websites appearing to be merely the work of a single individual, rather than the publication of a group, are not included in this list“? Some past and current examples:

Rense Radio Network (Since 2015)
carolynyeager,net (Since 2013)
Casa D’Ice Signs (2010-2015)
Free Edgar Steele (2010-2015)
Christ or Chaos (Since 2011)
Bob’s Underground Graduate Seminar/BUGS (2013-2017)
Sultan Knish a blog by Daniel Greenfield (2011-2016)
White Rabbit Radio (Since 2013)
Bomb Islam (Since 2016)
Wildman’s Civil War Surplus and Herb Shop (2018)

While these are only a few of the many one-man web groups the SPLC has claimed over the years, the top prize has to go to The Daily Stormer, which, to be absolutely clear, was a bona fide neo-Nazi blog, make no mistake about it. The sheer marketing genius of this claim deserves a closer look.

In 2015, Mark Potok told the OC Register “We make a big effort to separate a man, his dog and a computer from a group with on-the-ground activity.”

Also in 2015, Mr. Potok described The Daily Stormer to Esquire magazine as “mostly Andrew Angelin, his dog, and a computer,” with one single, one-man “group” based in Ohio.

In 2016, Potok counted 32 iterations of The Daily Stormer one-man website, including the ridiculous “hate group” Heidi Beirich assigned to Amana, Iowa, and one “statewide” phantom in New York State.

By 2017, there were still 32 alleged Stormer “groups,” only now all but the Ohio home base were “statewide” phantoms.

2018 saw the list shrink to 22 iterations, with all but the Ohio “group” listed as “statewide,” and by 2019, the lucrative franchise (at least for the SPLC) collapsed to a mere ten chapters, and even the Ohio iteration had gone AWOL.

As of 2020, The Daily Stormer has morphed back into the one-man blog it has always been and is counted among Ohio’s 21 alleged “groups,” even though Mr. Angelin fled the country to parts unknown in 2016 and the website now sports a .su domain name, which would seemingly put it somewhere in the Soviet Union.

You really have to tip your hat to such marketing ingenuity. Since 2015, the SPLC has counted a single one-man blog, something Mark Potok swore that the company does not count, 98 times and the Media never once questioned it.

And so, there we have it. Another year and another SPLC “Hate Map” fundraising tool. In the aftermath of the near collapse of the company in 2019, with the scandalous firing of its founder, Morris Dees, and the suspiciously hasty resignations of SPLC President Richard Cohen and Legal Director Rhonda Brownstein just one week later, we briefly toyed with the idea that the company might have turned a corner and was heading back to its civil rights roots. It had, after all, finally diversified its Executive Suite after a 49-year “whites only” policy set in place by Dees and rigorously enforced by Cohen and the company’s Board of Directors.

Sadly, it was not to be. While the same Board that had kept Dees and Cohen in power for decades quickly named one of its own, Karen Baynes-Dunning as interim president until it could hire the equally diverse Margaret Huang, the company still saw fit to reward Dees, Cohen and Brownstein with more than a million donor-dollars in severance pay in 2019, despite the shame and ignominy they brought to the brand name.

The simple fact is that the annual “Hate Map” fundraising tool brings in too much money to walk away from, even though the SPLC has more than half a billion dollars in cash reserves. It’s no conspiracy. Like everything else about the Southern Poverty Law Center, the spurious “hate group” designations are simply part of the business of selling fear.


SPLC — $223 Per Minute, Every Minute

July 12, 2020

With the current turmoil in the U.S. these days, corporations, celebrities and average citizens are climbing over each other in a frenzied effort to signal their superior “anti-racist” virtue. One of the biggest benefactors of this largesse is, of course, the Southern Poverty Law Center. Granted, for the lazy virtue signaler, the SPLC represents an easy way to tell the world that you are somehow “fighting hate,” but how much of a difference does your donation actually make to the company itself?

According to the SPLC’s most recent IRS Form 990 tax return, the company claimed revenues for fiscal year 2019 in excess of $117 million dollars (down slightly from 2018’s $122 million and 2017’s record-breaking $133 million). It ended the year with net assets in excess of $543 million, or more than half a billion dollars, all of it tax-free.

What does $117 million of net income break down into?

$320,547 every day of the year, or,
$13,356 every hour of every day, or,
$222.60 every minute of every hour, or,
$3.70 every second.

Needless to say,  with that much cash flowing into the SPLC’s coffers, the average Joe doesn’t stand much of a chance of making a difference. For example,

A $25 donation equals what the SPLC takes in roughly every seven seconds.
A $100 donation equals 27 seconds of the SPLC’s income.
A $1,000 donation won’t buy five minutes of the SPLC’s income.

You’d be hard put to even physically make the donation in less than five minutes, especially if you are still writing paper checks and sending them by USPS snail mail, as many of the SPLC’s most loyal supporters do. By the time Grandma shuffles out to the mailbox, with a generous gift in hand, her donation has already been swamped by the competition.

Once you get into the million-donor-dollar range you can tell people that you kept the lights on at the SPLC for just over three whole days (hopefully not over a holiday weekend), but a million bucks doesn’t mean as much to the SPLC as it does to you or me.

For example, in March of 2019, SPLC President Richard Cohen had to actually fire company founder Morris Dees due to decades of accusations by female employees of sexual harassment by Dees.

A week later, under a cloud for knowingly keeping Mr. Dees on the payroll all those years and for perpetuating Dees’ 49-year policy of not hiring minorities to senior positions at the SPLC, both President Cohen and company Legal Director Rhonda Brownstein quit the organization ignominiously.

[Over one year later and most of the Board members who kept Cohen and Brownstein on the payroll for decades are still on the Board of Directors!]

Fortunately, the company’s IRS Form 990 shows that all three executives received their full salaries and benefits for the year, for a total of $1,109,049. Hopefully it wasn’t your million dollar donation that paid for the unmitigated failure of these three individuals.

You may wish to console yourself with the belief that your million went to the 7% of the SPLC budget allocated toward “case cost expenses,” as you are supporting a “law center” after all. It’s worth noting that 7% is a record high for the company, which has only spent more than 4% of its budget on legal cases four times since 2001, with several years barely breaking the 1% threshold.

If you weren’t one of the six lucky million-dollar donors to cover the company’s legal expenses in 2019 you can take solace in the knowledge that the SPLC spent more than $5 million dollars in postage last year, in an age of ubiquitous email.

Of course, you have a far better chance of getting into the $23 million-dollar pool for fundraising costs. According to the SPLC’s own auditor, the company paid over $11 million in overt fundraising fees and “…incurred joint costs of $11,241,553 for educational materials and activities as part of fund-raising appeals during the year ended October 31, 2019.”

One would think that with half a billion in cash assets on hand the SPLC could find something more useful on which to spend $23 million donor-dollars.

And what might that “something” be? According to several organizational websites, your local food bank can provide four nourishing meals for a dollar. That means your $25 dollar donation can feed a hungry family of four for nearly seven days, versus supporting the SPLC for nearly seven seconds.

That same $25 can provide a dozen needy people with insulin or other life-saving medicines for a month. Shelters for abused or battered women and children are always in desperate need of financial support.

Even your local SPCA can do far more with your gift than the six-digit-salary fundraisers and failed millionaire executives of the SPLC.

Give locally, where the needs are greater and where you can see the results of your gifts first hand. You’ll still get cool points for helping out, but this way you can actually do some good.

 

SPLC — The Cost of Failure

February 27, 2020

The Southern Poverty Law Center released its IRS Form 990 tax return for 2019 earlier this week. Not surprising, the company reported nine-digit revenues for the third year in a row, 83% of which came from direct donations.

Last year brought in $117 million, which is down from 2018’s $122 million and 2017’s record-breaking $133 million take, but is still twice 2016’s paltry $58 million. The advent of Donald Trump’s election and the 2017’s Charlottesville riots created a corporate virtue signalling campaign of unprecedented scale, which will likely rebound slightly for the 2020 election cycle.

Last year also brought the entirely-unforeseen but much-needed shakeup of the SPLC’s Executive Suite, starting with the ouster of company founder Morris Dees under allegations of long-time sexual harassment of female employees. Former SPLC staffer Bob Moser documented this open secret in a March 21, 2019 New Yorker article, The Reckoning of Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

According to Moser, “Incoming female staffers were additionally warned by their new colleagues about Dees’s reputation for hitting on young women.” The SPLC’s top leadership had been receiving complaints of this nature routinely, but chose to keep Dees on the payroll because the donors loved him.

Dees, for his part, refuted this claim with the kind of logic that only a lawyer could love: Dees claimed that he couldn’t have been hitting on women at the office because he was hardly ever in the building any more.

On March 14, 2019, the SPLC’s hometown newspaper, the Montgomery Advertiser, reported “[Dees] said he hadn’t tried a case in at least a decade and hadn’t recently been involved in the day-to-day operations of the SPLC. ” PJ Media‘s Tyler O’Neil repeated this claim in his 2020 book, Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center, where he quotes Dees as saying that he had very rarely gone to the office for the past ten years.

All this begs the question as to why Morris Dees was kept on the company payroll all those years, at a salary exceeding $400,000 annually? This is especially troubling considering the millions of fundraising appeals the SPLC sent out to gullible donors over those years, implying that the company was in dire need of cash.

Long-time SPLC president Richard Cohen, who also pulled down $400,000 a year, is chiefly to blame, which partially explains why Cohen quit the SPLC a week after firing Dees, as did SPLC Legal Director Rhonda Brownstein.

Cohen should have fired Dees after the first sexual misconduct charges were made, but instead he kept Dees on at full pay so that the latter could make the occasional fundraising call to the company’s richest donors.

Cohen also jumped ship under the cloud that, under his leadership, the SPLC had a decades-old record of not promoting minorities to senior positions, a claim documented by Montgomery Advertiser reporters Dan Morse and Greg Jaffe as early as 1994.

So Morris Dees was fired in disgrace from the very company he created and Cohen and Brownstein beat feet to get as far from the sinking ship as quickly as possible. All’s well that ends well, right? Not so much for the donors. The recent IRS Form 990 shows that despite being fired, Morris Dees collected his full salary for the year, as did Cohen and Brownstein, despite having ignominiously quit their jobs.

The three great humanitarians, who were shown the door roughly one-third of the way into the fiscal year, were paid a total of $1,109,049 donor-dollars in all, with nearly $732,000 of that coming after they no longer worked for the company.

That bill was picked up by the donors. At $100 a pop, some 7,300 donors, who believed with all their hearts that their money was somehow “fighting hate,” instead paid for the severance packages of three people whose moral failures nearly destroyed the SPLC.

At a more likely $25 donation level, that number jumps to 183,000 well-meaning suckers.

2019 Dees Cohen pay 1

2019 Brownstein pay 1

SPLC Severance - IRS Form 990 -Page 51

Cohen and Brownstein severance payments

Richard Cohen cannot hog all of the credit for keeping Morris Dees around for all those years, though. An equal share, perhaps even a greater share, goes to the SPLC’s Board of Directors, whose sworn duty was to respond to serious allegations against company executives and who ultimately have hire/fire powers.

Amazingly, nine of the 14 Board members who did absolutely nothing about Dees’ and Cohen’s disreputable behavior for years (ten, if interim SPLC president Karen Baynes-Dunning returns to the Board) are STILL on the Board in 2020!

2019 Board of Directors

2019 SPLC Board of Directors

2020 Board of Directors

2020 SPLC Board of Directors

Many of the Board members have been in place for years, including Morris Dees’ divorce lawyer, Howard Mandell, who was on the Board back when Morse and Jaffe were writing their week-long exposé of the SPLC in 1994.

One 2019 Board alumna who bailed out in the wake of the Dees/Cohen debacle was Jocelyn Benson, who was named as Michigan Secretary of State in 2018.  On March 26, 2019,  PJ Media noted Benson’s sudden disappearance from the SPLC website.

Benson’s office claimed that “Upon taking office as Michigan Secretary of State, Secretary Benson informed SPLC leadership that she would be stepping down from the board,” but the SPLC website’s bio page for Benson describes her as Secretary of State for nearly six months before her sudden removal from the page.

Even if the removal of Benson from the Board webpage after her election was an oversight by the SPLC, she still served on the Board since at least 2015 and worked for the SPLC in the early 2000s. The odds of Ms. Benson not “getting the word” about Mr. Dees alleged improprieties in all that time, especially as a young intern, are pretty slim.

Jocelyn Benson is as guilty of keeping Morris Dees and Richard Cohen on the SPLC payroll as is Howard Mandell and the rest of the Board of Directors, and yet not one of them have ever been taken to task for their failure.

Instead, the buck was passed to the almighty donors.

The Many (White) Faces of the SPLC

January 24, 2015

It’s always informative to peruse the Southern Poverty Law Center’s web site, as you never know what you’ll find. Here’s what the Senior Program Staff page of the Who We Are tab looks like:

Senior Staff1Senior Staff2Senior Staff3

We found it a bit odd that there were so many missing photos, as it sure left a lot of white space on the page. Just out of curiosity we simply Googled the names and found photos for everyone.

So here, in no particular order, are the missing faces of the SPLC’s Senior Program Staff, click on any image to enlarge it:

MissingStaff1MissingStaff2MissingStaff3

As it turns out, if the web designers at the SPLC actually had filled in all the missing photos there would still be a lot of white space on the page.

No doubt even the most die-hard donors would catch on if all of the photos were published.

Twenty-one of the SPLC’s Senior Staffers are white, or about 88% of the team. Seems a bit odd for “the nation’s leading civil rights organization,” especially since its headquarters are located LITERALLY in the back yard of Dr. Martin Luther King’s own Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in downtown Montgomery, Alabama, the birthplace of the American Civil Rights Movement.

When you account for the fact that four of the Senior Staffers, including two of the three blacks on the team, live out-of-state, the percentage of white staff in Montgomery jumps to 95%. The sole exception is Lecia Brooks, who works as a fundraiser. Ms. Brooks joined the SPLC in 2004 and has never broken into the ranks of highest paid officers, even when the list included salaries as paltry as $70,000 a year.

Still and all, as dismal as the diversity of the Senior Staff is, it’s better than the makeup of the SPLC’s executive officer team, which is composed 100% of white millionaires, just as it has been for every year since the SPLC opened for business in 1971.

Even the SPLC’s “Teaching Tolerance” program, which purports to promote diversity in the K-12 classroom, is led by whites, as it has been since its inception in 1991.

“Diversity,” like taxes, it seems, is for the little people. No hypocrisy here, SPLC.

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 — 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.

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: