A week after co-founder Morris Dees was ousted over sexual misconduct claims - with two dozen employees signing a letter of concern over "allegations of mistreatment, sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and racism," the head of the SPLC, Richard Cohen, as well as the organization's legal director, Rhonda Brownstein, resigned on Friday.
Cohen had been with the organization 33 years and was one of its most prominent figures.
At 5:03 p.m. Friday, Cohen sent a message to staff, with the subject line “Stepping Down,” announcing that he, too, would be leaving the organization that he and Dees had turned into a research and fundraising juggernaut.
“Whatever problems exist at the SPLC happened on my watch, so I take responsibility for them,” Cohen wrote, while asking the staff to avoid jumping to conclusions before the board completes an internal review of the Montgomery, Ala., organization’s work culture. -LA Times
Earlier this week, the SPLC board of directors appointed Michelle Obama's former chief of staff, Tina Tchen - who, in an unrelated matter, unsuccessfully tried to pull strings and have the Jussie Smollett case transferred from the Chicago PD to the FBI. Tchen is heading up the inquiry into the sexual misconduct claims.
Also out on Friday was Rhonda Brownstein - who had worked with the organization for nearly three decades, according to the Montgomery Advertiser's Melissa Brown.
Inside the SPLC "Scam"
As the Washington Examiner's Beckett Adams writes, the Southern Poverty Law Center is a "scam," which has taken " no care whatsoever for the reputational and personal harm it causes by lumping Christians and anti-extremist activists with actual neo-Nazis."
As it turns out, the SPLC is a cynical money-making scheme, according to a former staffer’s blistering tell-all, published this week in the New Yorker. The center’s chief goal is to bilk naive and wealthy donors who believe it's an earnest effort to combat bigotry.
The only thing worse than a snarling partisan activist is a slimy conman who merely pretends to be one. -Washington Examiner
"“Outside of work," recalls Bob Moser of his days working for the organization, "we spent a lot of time drinking and dishing in Montgomery bars and restaurants about … the hyperbolic fund-raising appeals, and the fact that, though the center claimed to be effective in fighting extremism, ‘hate’ always continued to be on the rise, more dangerous than ever, with each year’s report on hate groups. ‘The S.P.L.C.—making hate pay,’ we’d say."
"[I]t was hard, for many of us, not to feel like we’d become pawns in what was, in many respects, a highly profitable scam," added Moser.
The way Moser tells it, the center’s chief founder, Morris Dees, who was dismissed unceremoniously last week for unspecified reasons, discovered early on that he could rake in boatloads of cash by convincing “gullible Northern liberals” that his group is doing the hard work of fighting “hate.”
But the center’s supposed mission of combating bigotry doesn’t actually matter to its top brass, Moser says. It’s just a business choice and one that has been extremely lucrative throughout the years. Moser’s article reminds readers of the time Dees actually said of the SPLC in an interview with then-Progressive magazine reporter John Egerton, “We just run our business like a business. Whether you’re selling cakes or causes, it’s all the same.” -Washington Examiner
Moser claims that the SPLC's business model centers entirely around keeping its precious donors in constant fear using gimmicks such as "hate maps" and "hate lists."
"[T]he center continues to take in far more than it spends. And it still tends to emphasize splashy cases that are sure to draw national attention,” he writes adding the group’s “central strategy” involves “taking on cases guaranteed to make headlines and inflame the far right while demonstrating to potential donors that the center has not only all the right enemies but also the grit and know-how to take them down."
Moser adds there is an inescapable sense of “guilt” that comes with thinking about “the legions of donors who believed that their money was being used, faithfully and well, to do the Lord’s work in the heart of Dixie. We were part of the con, and we knew it.”
Who knew you could make the big bucks simply by lumping Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Ben Carson with actual, honest-to-God neo-Nazis? -Washington Examiner
Right wing commentator and Vice co-founder Gavin McInnes is currently suing the SPLC for labeling his right-wing fraternal organization, the Proud Boys, a hate group.
The SPLC has gone from a noble institution genuinely dedicated to eradicating hate to a hate group in and of itself that pretends this country is frothing with bigots desperate to foment World War III," McInnes said in a press release.
McInnes has raised nearly $200,000 out of a goal of $250,000 to continue his lawsuit. From his website Defendgavin.com:
I'm suing the SPLC. And it's not just because they destroyed my career and shattered my reputation. It's because they could do the same to you. Though this group is often cited as a credible source by the media, nobody who actually knows stuff takes them seriously.
No, being called an extremist by the SPLC does NOT mean you're an extremist. No, being called a Hate Group by the SPLC does NOT make you a Hate Group. And no, being called a racist or an anti-Semite or an Islamophobe or a transphobe or a homophobe by the SPLC does NOT make you any of those things. -Gavin McInnes
We wonder if there will even be an SPLC left to sue by the time it reaches a courtroom.