“The question isn’t what went wrong at the SPLC; it is why it took so long for the rest of the country to learn what local reporters already knew.”
(Jim Tharpe, former managing editor of the Montgomery Advertiser)
The problems at the Southern Poverty Law Center could be bigger than discomfort by staff about racism and sexism in the internal office culture says the former managing editor of the Montgomery Advertiser who penned an op-ed in the Washington Post last week entitled,
Something strange is going on at this civil rights institution. It must be investigated.
Editor: It is important that all of you, all fair-minded people! especially those who have been targets of the SPLC’s infamous hate lists, keep all of the unfolding news about the SPLC ‘s frauds in the public eye. Tina is Tina Tchen Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff brought in by the board to help clean up the mess. She will be working to downplay information like this!
Author Jim Tharpe, a retired journalist who lives in Atlanta and was a former managing editor of the Montgomery Advertiser, says federal investigators need to investigate the finances of this massive ‘non-profit’ group.
Here is some of Tharpe’s thesis at the Washington Post,
(Emphasis is mine.)
There’s something strange afoot at the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of the nation’s richest civil and human rights charities. In March, the center abruptly fired legendary co-founder Morris Dees. Dees’s biography was quickly scrubbed from the center’s website, and the SPLC announced this week that Karen Baynes-Dunning would serve as interim president and CEO, giving the civil rights organization its first black female leader.
In confirming Dees’s departure, then-President Richard Cohen emphasized the center’s values of “truth, justice, equity, and inclusion,” and said vaguely, “When one of our own fails to meet those standards, no matter his or her role in the organization, we take it seriously and must take appropriate action.”
Subsequent news reports pointed to allegations of racial discrimination and sexual harassment inside an organization that had raised hundreds of millions of dollars from donors to fight just that type of injustice.
Dees has said little about why he was shown the door after 48 years at the organization he had come to define. But to those of us familiar with the SPLC and its inner workings, the allegations swirling around the latest drama were familiar. The question isn’t what went wrong at the SPLC; it is why it took so long for the rest of the country to learn what local reporters already knew. It will probably take a federal investigation to fully unravel this deep-South mystery and provide a credible, long-term fix.
Twenty five years ago an investigation first revealed the problems at the SPLC and nothing was ever done about it.
In February 1994, after three years of research, the Advertiser published an eight-part series titled “Rising Fortunes: Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center” that found a litany of problems and questionable practices at the SPLC, including a deeply troubled history with its relatively few black employees, some of whom reported hearing the use of racial slurs by the organization’s staff and others who “likened the center to a plantation”; misleading donors with aggressive direct-mail tactics; exaggerating its accomplishments; spending most of its money not on programs but on raising more money; and paying its top staffers (including Dees and Cohen) lavish salaries.
Dees and Cohen vigorously denied its findings. And the SPLC mounted an aggressive campaign against the series when it was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize — it was a 1995 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism.
Too late for Tina, says Tharpe. Bring in the IRS and the Civil Rights Division at DOJ!
Cohen, before he announced his own departure, said the center would bring in well-regarded lawyer Tina Tchen to conduct an investigation. It’s too late for that.
The Internal Revenue Service, which grants the SPLC tax-exempt status, and the civil rights division of the Justice Department would be the best bets to really figure out what’s up at the center.
Any investigation should take a close look at the SPLC’s finances. It should look at what the center has told donors in its mail solicitations over the years. And it should take a close look at how that donor money has been spent.
Investigators should also look at how SPLC staffers have been treated over the years. Where was the center’s board when this mistreatment was going on? And why did no one step up sooner?
The feds owe that to the young progressives who work at the SPLC. And they certainly owe that to the donors who have put their own first-class stamps on the checks they mailed to Montgomery.
More here. (I know it may be behind a paywall, I was able to read it on my first visit.)
Follow the money!
I don’t know that the feds owe anything to “young progressives” who naively work at the SPLC, but investigating a politically motivated ‘non-profit’ group for possible financial wrong-doing sure is a good idea.
And, to answer Tharpe’s question about why it took so long for the rest of the country to learn the truth about the SPLC, it is because the mainstream media protected and coddled the SPLC because the mainstream media wanted to believe that America was filled with haters being exposed by the good and pure-minded staffers struggling for the little guy! (And, I include Fox News in that bunch of protectors!)
It doesn’t take a genius to know that Fox stopped bringing on certain guests after calls from the SPLC!
Your job is to continue to post news like this about the SPLC to your social networks! Do not let Tina and Karen sweep the dirt under a rug!
I’ve got another post if I get to it today about malfeasance with non-profit groups — many are run by frauds and crooks (with do-nothing boards of directors).