The nation’s most wealthy bank was challenged over its support of the Southern Poverty Law Center and forced to address the issue in front of investors.
Tom Strobhar, who leads Life Decisions International, confronted JPMorgan Chase executives over the company’s half-million dollar donation to the SPLC, which followed a violent event in 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Just days after right-wing Neo-Nazis fought with far-left Antifa activists, and where a communist activist was killed, JP Morgan announced it was splitting a $1 million donation between SPLC and the Anti-Defamation League, which fights anti-Semitism, CNN reported at the time.
JPMorgan, which is said to have more than $2 trillion in assests, has donated to both groups in the past. The company said it was motivated after Charlottesville to confront "hate, intolerance and discrimination wherever it exists."
SPLC, meanwhile, was enjoying years of favorable press and corporate accolades for fighting for Civil Rights in the Deep South and, more recently, for its controversial "Hate Map" that claims to document dangerous groups.
American Family Association, the parent organization of American Family News and OneNewsNow, is among the groups on the SPLC list.
Then came trouble. A blistering New Yorker story, published in March 2019, exposed allegations of a "toxic work culture" that harmed women and minorities at the Alabama-based SPLC. The allegations from past employees concluded with the firing of the SPLC founder, the longtime president, and the group's legal director, NPR reported a month after the New Yorker story was published.
Despite its vow to address hate and intolerance with a large donation, JPMorgan Chase has a history of wrongdoing. The financial giant is known in the financial world for its history of paying fines for illicit and underhanded behavior, such as a $920 million fine over trading losses in 2017, one of its largest punishments of many that date back decades.
According to Strobhar, JPMorgan objected when he requested a ballot resolution about the company’s donation to the SPLC.
“They hired an outside law firm and asked the SEC for the ability to omit the resolution, basically not have it on the ballot,” he recalls. “But the SEC said, You must put this on ballot."
The resolution did not pass but Strobhar was pleased with the ability to confront the powerful financial corporation directly.
"I'm hoping that more and more organizations,” he says, “are seeing the SPLC for what they are and will turn to more authoritative groups."