A U.S. senator is asking the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the Southern Poverty Law Center. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) specifically wants to know whether the SPLC should retain its classification as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.
"The Southern Poverty Law Center has over half a billion dollars, about a quarter of that, is parked in overseas accounts as best we can tell," Senator Cotton said Tuesday night on Fox News Channel's "Tucker Carlson Tonight" program. "I don't know many charitable advisers would say it's best practice to send your endowment to overseas accounts in the Caribbean."
That, said Cotton, is one reason why Charity Watch gives the Southern Poverty Law Center an "F" rating.
"They've really become kind of a hate group themselves, because they have the so-called 'hate map' and they use it to stigmatize their political opponents – respectable center-right organizations like the Family Research Council and Alliance Defending Freedom," the senator continued.
"It's fine if you don't agree with those organizations. [In fact,] there are plenty of groups on the left that I don't agree with, but I don't try to stigmatize them as a hate group and then go peddle that to CNN and The New York Times and attack their donors."
SPLC has also labeled the American Family Association a hate group, something the Tupelo, Mississippi-based ministry has challenged.
Cotton added that this is "just the first step" he is taking to try to get the IRS focused on this issue.
"You have, again, a $500-million so-called 'charity' that has systematic racial and sexist discrimination problems and yet at the same time it's simply using that money to target its political opponents," Cotton explained. "That's not what American taxpayers are subsidizing when we give people tax-exempt status. We give those things to churches or adoption shelters or shelters for battered women – not to defame your political opponents, sexually harass every woman that works in your office, and discriminate against minorities."
Claims of harassment and racism at SPLC have been making headlines for several weeks, although a March 2019 article from AL.com says the claims stretch back decades.