There's nothing 'poor' about the Southern Poverty Law Center

Friday, September 15, 2017
Abraham Hamilton III - Guest Columnist

Sure enough, the Southern Poverty Law Center is based in the South. But is it impoverished? No way – in fact, it's sitting on millions of dollars. And does it provide legal assistance? Very little, if any. One out of three just doesn't cut it.

By developing and posting a few years ago what it describes as a "hate map," the Alabama-based SPLC positioned itself prominently as a resource for those who find it convenient to ignore facts. No less than the FBI discovered that a bit too late. Most people may not know this, but at one time the Bureau used the SPLC's data to bolster its chronicling of hate crimes. But the FBI now says no, we can't use SPLC because they are discredited; they have no reliable source of information.

Finally, some of this information about the SPLC is starting to come to light. Here's what Greg Gutfield of "The Five" on Fox News Channel had to say on September 6:

"This 'poverty' center has loads of [money]. A $320 million endowment – and chucks almost 20 percent of it into offshore equities – Cayman Island stuff .... So this 'poverty' group sits on a pile of offshore dough. That's like a personal trainer with a gut – or a priest with a harem.

"The Center paid out $20 million in salaries in 2015, but provided just $61K in legal assistance. So the Southern Poverty Law Center appears to have no poverty – and do virtually no law. It's the most misleading name since the Democratic Party."

Gutfield is absolutely right. The SPLC has millions in an endowment and nearly $70 million invested in offshore accounts. And the millions in salaries the nonprofit doled out in 2015 pale in comparison to the pennies it devoted to legal expenses (page 10, column A, Form 990). I'm not making this up ... just examine their Form 990s for that year.

SPLC logoBottom line? The SPLC is a money-making scheme – and I'm not the first to label it as such. The people who run it are frauds and charlatans. They decry and destroy anybody who is ideologically opposed to them. That's what they do. Case in point: the SPLC "hate map."

And what's more, their money-hungry ways aren't a deviation from who they are, but it's who they were from their founding – starting with their co-founder, Morris Dees. Here's just a portion of a 2014 report by The Washington Times:

The lawyer, Morris Dees, once defended Ku Klux Klansmen accused of beating up a black reporter covering the Freedom Riders, later raised money for George Wallace and then for George McGovern, and one day had an epiphany, or at least a profitable idea.

“I felt the anger of a black person for the first time,” he later said of that case. “I vowed then and there that nobody would ever again doubt where I stood.”

Where he stood was a place where he could parlay the good will of the unsuspecting into great riches. Mr. Dees and a partner, Millard Fuller, practiced law and ran a direct-marketing business. He made a good living, but he wanted to get rich.

“Morris and I … shared the overriding purpose of making a pile of money,” the partner once told Harper’s magazine. “We were not particular about how we did it. We just wanted to be independently rich.”

With his conscience in tatters, Millard Fuller sold his share of the business to Mr. Dees, gave the proceeds to charity, moved away and founded Habitat for Humanity, building houses for the poor.

Morris Dees stayed in Alabama and built a 200-acre estate with tennis courts, a swimming pool and stables for his horses, and instead of doing good, did well.

“Poverty” quickly became enormously profitable. He was soon collecting millions and paying himself a salary far in excess of those paid to the heads of such advocacy groups as the ACLU, the Children’s Defense Fund and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

So as the KKK shrank into insignificance, Dees realized through his "epiphany" that the way to make money is in the civil rights hustle.

The director of the Southern Center for Human Rights – one of the SPLC's neighbors – several years ago described Dees as "a fraud and a con man," saying "you promote yourself shamelessly" while failing the needs of the poor and the powerless. "You spend so much [but] accomplish so little," he added.

I'm guessing the two groups probably aren't on good terms, if they ever were.

Now some who will read this information about the Southern Poverty Law Center will be shocked – which begs the questions:

  • Why hasn't the talking snake media shared any of this information about Morris Dees and the SPLC?
  • And why does the IRS allow the Center to retain its 501(c)(3) status when so little of its resources go to the group's mission?

Abraham Hamilton III is general counsel and public policy analyst for the American Family Association.

Editor's Note: The American Family Association is the parent organization of the American Family News Network, which operates

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