Southern Poverty Law Center Transfers Millions in Cash to Offshore Entities

Southern Poverty Law Center Transfers Millions in Cash to Offshore Entities

The SPLC’s Morris Dees and Richard Cohen speak at dinner hosted by the Boxser Diversity Initiative

Below are four articles on the Southern Poverty Law Center. The first is from a conservative website, the following three are from progressive websites.

(For information on a similar organization, read After Charlottesville, racist organization ADL​ sees 1000% spike in “anti-racism” donations)

Southern Poverty Law Center Transfers Millions in Cash to Offshore Entities

BY: Joe Schoffstall, Washington Free Beacon

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a liberal [sic], Alabama-based 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organization that has gained prominence on the left for its “hate group” designations, pushes millions of dollars to offshore entities as part of its business dealings, records show.

Additionally, the nonprofit pays lucrative six-figure salaries to its top directors and key employees while spending little on legal services despite its stated intent of “fighting hate and bigotry” using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is perhaps best known for its “hate map,” a collection of organizations the nonprofit deems “domestic hate groups” that lists mainstream conservative organizations [and other groups] alongside racist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and is often referenced in the media. A gunman opened fire at the Washington, D.C., offices of the conservative Family Research Council in 2012 after seeing it listed as an “anti-gay” group on SPLC’s website.

The SPLC has turned into a fundraising powerhouse, recording more than $50 million in contributions and $328 million in net assets on its 2015 Form 990, the most recently available tax form from the nonprofit. SPLC’s Form 990-T, its business income tax return, from the same year shows that they have “financial interests” in the Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, and Bermuda. No information is available beyond the acknowledgment of the interests at the bottom of the form.

However, the Washington Free Beacon discovered forms from 2014 that shed light on some of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s transfers to foreign entities.

The SPLC’s Form 8865, a Return of U.S. Persons With Respect to Certain Foreign Partnerships, from 2014 shows that the nonprofit transferred hundreds of thousands to an account located in the Cayman Islands.

SPLC lists Tiger Global Management LLC, a New York-based private equity financial firm, as an agent on its form. The form shows a foreign partnership between the SPLC and Tiger Global Private Investment Partners IX, L.P., a pooled investment fund in the Cayman Islands. SPLC transferred $960,000 in cash on Nov. 24, 2014 to Tiger Global Private Investment Partners IX, L.P, its records show.

The SPLC’s Form 926, a Return by a U.S. Transferor of Property to a Foreign Corporation, from 2014 shows additional cash transactions that the nonprofit had sent to offshore funds.

The SPLC reported a $102,007 cash transfer on Dec. 24, 2014 to BPV-III Cayman X Limited, a foreign entity located in the Cayman Islands. The group then sent $157,574 in cash to BPV-III Cayman XI Limited on Dec. 31, 2014, an entity that lists the same PO Box address in Grand Cayman as the previous transfer.

The nonprofit pushed millions more into offshore funds at the beginning of 2015.

On March 1, 2015, SPLC sent $2,200,000 to an entity incorporated in Canana Bay, Cayman Islands, according to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) records and run by a firm firm based in Greenwich, Ct. Another $2,200,000 cash transfer was made on the same day to another fund whose business is located at the same address as the previous fund in the Cayman Islands, according to SEC records.

No information is contained on its interests in Bermuda on the 2014 forms. SPLC’s financial stakes in the British Virgin Islands were not acknowledged until its 2015 tax form.

Lucinda Chappelle, a principal at Jackson Thornton, the public accounting firm in Montgomery, Ala., that prepared the SPLC’s tax forms, said she does not discuss client matters and hung up the phone when the Free Beacon contacted her in an attempt to get the most updated forms from the group in relation to its foreign business dealings.

Tax experts expressed confusion when being told of the transfer.

“I’ve never known a US-based nonprofit dealing in human rights or social services to have any foreign bank accounts,” said Amy Sterling Casil, CEO of Pacific Human Capital, a California-based nonprofit consulting firm. “My impression based on prior interactions is that they have a small, modestly paid staff, and were regarded by most in the industry as frugal and reliable. I am stunned to learn of transfers of millions to offshore bank accounts. It is a huge red flag and would have been completely unacceptable to any wealthy, responsible, experienced board member who was committed to a charitable mission who I ever worked with.”

“It is unethical for any US-based charity to invest large sums of money overseas,” said Casil. “I know of no legitimate reason for any US-based nonprofit to put money in overseas, unregulated bank accounts.”

“It seems extremely unusual for a ‘501(c)(3)’ concentrating upon reducing poverty in the American South to have multiple bank accounts in tax haven nations,” Charles Ortel, a former Wall Street analyst and financial advisor who helpeduncover a 2009 financial scandal at General Electric, told the Free Beacon.

The nonprofit also pays lucrative salaries to its top leadership.

Richard Cohen, president and chief executive officer of the SPLC, was given $346,218 in base compensation in 2015, its tax forms show. Cohen received $20,000 more in other reportable compensation and non-taxable benefits. Morris Dees, SPLC’s chief trial counsel, received a salary of $329,560 with $42,000 in additional reportable compensation and non-taxable benefits.

The minimum amount paid to an officer, director, trustee, or key employee in 2015 was $140,000 in base salary, not including other compensation.  The group spent $20 million on salaries throughout the year.

The SPLC, which claims to boast a staff of 75 lawyers who practice in the area of children’s rights, economic justice, immigrant justice, LGBT rights, and criminal justice reform, reported spending only $61,000 on legal services in 2015.

Following recent violence in Charlottesville, Va., the group raised a great deal of money.

Apple CEO Tim Cook told his employees that the company is donating $1 million to the SPLC and would match employee contributions two to one. Cook also placed an SPLC donation button in its iTunes store. The company is additionally providing a $1 million donation to the Anti-Defamation League.

J.P Morgan Chase vowed to add a $500,000 donation for the group’s “work in tracking, exposing, and fighting hate groups and other extremist organizations.”

The Washington Times reported that CNN ran a wire story following the Charlottesville events originally titled, “Here are all the active hate groups where you live” using SPLC’s list of 917 groups.

Brad Dacus, the president of the Pacific Justice Institute, a Sacramento-based group that defends “religious freedom, parental rights, and other civil liberties without charge,” was listed on the “hate groups” list.

“Why is the Southern Poverty Law Center doing this? It’s simple. They want to vilify and isolate anyone that doesn’t agree with their very extremist leftist policy and ideology,” Dacus told the Times. “This isn’t about defending civil rights; this is about attacking civil rights.”

“I am shocked that CNN would publish such a false report on the heels of the Charlottesville tragedy,” added Mat Staver, the founder of Liberty Counsel, a Christian nonprofit that provides pro bono assistance and representation, which is also featured on SPLC’s list. “To lump peaceful Christian organizations, which condemn violence and racism, in with the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists is offensive. This is the epitome of fake news and is why people no longer trust the media.”

CNN later changed its headline to, “The Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of hate groups.”

“The SPLC is an anti-conservative, anti-Christian hate group that the media have given pretend legitimacy to. One glance at their 990 tax forms is a reminder just what a fund-raising super-power it is,” Dan Gainor, vice president of Business and Culture at the Media Research Center, told the Free Beacon. “Its assets are over $328 million in 2015 and went up $13 million in just one year. It doesn’t need new liberal money. It could operate for at least six years and never raise a penny. It’s like a perpetual motion machine for fundraisers.”

The SPLC has also been hit with a number of lawsuits over “hate” defamation claims in recent days.

The Southern Poverty Law Center did not return a request for comment on its foreign financial dealings by press time.


King of the Hate Business: Inside the Southern Poverty Law Center

By Jeffrey St. Claire, Alexander Cockburn, CounterPunch, Aug 15, 2017, reprinted from May 15, 2009

In the wake of Charlottesville, liberals have been pouring money into the Southern Poverty Law Center in the misguided belief that the Center is a fearsome defender of civil rights. The latest to fire off a check was George and Amal Clooney, who sent Dees’ outfit $1.1 million. Most of this money will be used to raise more money (when they’re not smearing animal rights and pro-Palestinian groups as threats to the nation.) As a corrective, we are reprinting a piece on SPLC that Cockburn and St. Clair wrote in 2009 in the first few (disappointing) months of Barack Obama’s presidency. — CP

What is the arch-salesman of hate-mongering, Mr. Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center doing now? He’s saying that the election of a black president proves his point. Hate is on the rise! Send money!

Without skipping a beat, the mailshot moguls, who year after year make money selling the notion there’s been a right resurgence out there in the hinterland with massed legions of haters, have used the election of a black president to say that, yes, hate is on the rise and America ready to burst apart at the seams, with millions of extremists primed to march down Main Street draped in Klan robes, a copy of Mein Kampf tucked under one arm and a Bible under the other, available for sneak photographs from minions of Chip Berlet, another salesman of the Christian menace, ripely endowed with millions to battle the legions of the cross.

Ever since 1971 US Postal Service mailbags have bulged with Dees’ fundraising letters, scaring dollars out of the pockets of trembling liberals aghast at his lurid depictions of hate-sodden America, in dire need of legal confrontation by the SPLC. In 2000, Ken Silverstein wrote a devastating commentary on Dees and the SPLC in Harpers, dissecting a typical swatch of Dees’ solicitations. At that time, as Silverstein pointed out, the SPLC was “the wealthiest civil rights group in America,” with $120 million in assets.

As of October 2008 the net assets of the SPLC were $170,240,129, The merchant of hate himself, Mr. Dees, was paid an annual $273,132 as chief trial counsel, and the SPLC’s president and CEO, Richard Cohen, $290,193. Total revenue in 2007 was $44,727,257 and program expenses $20,804,536. In other words, the Southern Poverty Law Center was raising twice as much as it was spending on its proclaimed mission. Fund-raising and administrative expenses accounted for $9 million, leaving $14 million to be put in the center’s vast asset portfolio.

The 990 non profit tax record for the SPLC indicates that the assets fell by about $50 million last year, meaning that like almost all non profits the SPLC took a bath in the stock crash. So what was thr end result of all that relentless hoarding down the year, as people of modest means, scared by Dees, sent him their contributions. Were they put to good use? It doesn’t seem so. They vanished in an electronic blip.

But where are the haters? That hardy old stand-by, the KKK, despite the SPLC’s predictable howls about an uptick in its chapters, is a moth-eaten and depleted troupe, at least 10 per cent of them on the government payroll as informants for the FBI. As Noel Ignatiev once remarked in his book Race Traitor, there isn’t a public school in any county in the USA that doesn’t represent a menace to blacks a thousand times more potent than that offered by the KKK, just as there aren’t many such schools that probably haven’t been propositioned by Dees to buy one of the SPLC’s “tolerance” programs. What school is going to go on record rejecting Dees-sponsored tolerance?

Dees and his hate-seekers scour the landscape for hate like the arms manufacturers inventing new threats and for the same reason: it’s their staple.

The SPLC’s latest “Year in Hate” report claims that “in 2008 the number of hate groups rose to 926, up 4 per cent from 2007, and 54 per cent since 2000.” The SPLC doesn’t measure the number of members in the groups, meaning they probably missed us. Change that total to 928. We’re a hate group, meaning in Dees-speak, “one with beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people,” starting with Dick Cheney. We love to dream of him being water-boarded, subjected to loops of Schonberg played at top volume, locked up naked in a meat locker. But the nation’s haters are mostly like us, enjoying their (increasingly circumscribed) constitutionally guaranteed right to hate, solitary, disorganized, prone to sickening relapses into love, or at least the sort of amiable tolerance for All Mankind experienced when looking at photos of Carla Bruni and Princess Letizia of Spain kissing.

The effective haters are big, powerful easily identifiable entities. Why is Dees fingering militia men in a potato field in Idaho when we have identifiable, well-organized groups which the SPLC could take on. To cite reports from the Urban League, and United for a Fair Economy, minorities are more than three times as likely to hold high-cost subprime loans, foisted on them by predatory lenders, meaning the big banks; “all black and latino subprime borrowers could stand to lose between $164 billion and $213 billion for loans taken during the past eight years.”

Get those bankers and big mortgage touts into court, chief counsel Dees! How about helping workers fired by people who hate anyone trying to organize a union? What about defending immigrants rounded up in ICE raids? How about attacking the roots of southern poverty, and the system that sustains that poverty as expressed in the endless prisons and Death Rows across the south, disproportionately crammed with blacks and Hispanics?

You fight theatrically, the Dees way, or you fight substantively, like Stephen Bright, who makes only $11,000 as president and senior counsel of the Southern Center for Human Rights. The center’s director makes less than $50,000. It has net assets of a bit over $4.5 million and allocates about $1.6 million a year for expenses, 77 percent of its annual revenue. Bright’s outfit is basically dedicated to two things: prison litigation and the death penalty. He fights the system, case by case. Not the phony targets mostly tilted at by Dees but the effective, bipartisan, functional system of oppression, far more deadly and determined than the SPLC’s tin-pot hate groups. Tear up your check to Dees and send it to Bright,( http://www.schr.org/) or to the Institute for Southern Studies (http://www.southernstudies.org.html) run by Chris Kromm, which has been doing brilliant spadework on the economy, on poverty and on exploitation in the south for four decades.


Do You Equate Anti-Zionism with Anti-Semitism?

By Felice Pace, CounterPunch, Nov 1, 2007

Mark Potok, Editor
Intelligence Report
SPLC

Richard Cohen
President and chief executive officer
SPLC

Morris Dees
Founder and Chief Trial Counsel
SPLC

Dear SPLC Folks,

This is an open letter to the leaders and founders of the Southern Poverty Law Center. An open response is requested.

I am a supporter of the Center and its work. I also have a good understanding of the evil that can result from hate speech. As a rural environmental activists I have been subjected to hate speech many times; I have also had my tires slashed, received numerous death threats, seen attempts to blackball my wife from a teaching job, had my organization’s office attacked and trashed and I was attacked and beat up once. So you could say I know something about the terrible power of hate speech.

I am disturbed by an article that the Center published in the fall 2007 issue of “Intelligence Report”–the Center’s magazine. The item “Navy Extremist Disciplined–But Not for Extremism” is on page 11. The article focuses on Navy officer John Sharpe Jr.

I do not question your assertion that Sharpe is an “extremist”–he may well also be anti-Semitic. However, the article appears to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. For example, as evidence for Sharpe’s anti-Semitism the article states: “Sharpe also has connections to Arab extremists that were ignored. On his website, for example, is an interview with Ibrahim Ebeid, a Baathist and supporter of Saddam Hussein. Ebeid says in the interview that ‘neo-cons and Zionists’ are responsible for a ‘vicious criminal war’ against Iraq and Palestine.”

This is the evidence that you have used to determine that Ebeid is an “extremist”? If so, I too am an extremist and so are many American Progressives!

I would like to know whether or not it is the position of the Center or you its leaders that opposition to Zionism–either the ideology or the contemporary manifestations – constitutes anti-Semitism. I would argue rather that it is entirely possible–and becoming more and more common–for American and other Progressives who oppose anti-Semitism and all similar ideologies to also reject and oppose Zionism and its manifestations both in the US and abroad. Zionism is rejected by a growing number of American Jews and by many Israelis. In this regard I would refer you to the book “The Tragedy of Zionism–How its Revolutionary Past Haunts Israeli Democracy” by Israeli author Bernard Avishai.

It is of the highest importance that the Southern Poverty Law Center and its leaders clarify their positions on Zionism and specifically whether you equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Since you have not-to-subtly suggested this connection in your magazine, I believe this clarification should also be published in the magazine. Perhaps you should also consider opening a dialogue with those of us in the Progressive Community who are anti-Zionist. At minimum the article you published indicates a lack of clarity at the Center about whether opposition to Zionism alone makes one an “extremist” and/or “anti-Semitic”. For this reason, I would encourage you to also engage in an internal staff-board dialogue on this issue.

Because you cited an article from Counterpunch in the article, and because this issue is of interest and importance to the Progressive Movement in this country, I am providing this open letter to that on-line newsletter. This is done in the interest of a wider dialogue. You might also want to take a look at the anti-Zionist articles which I have published in Counterpunch. Those articles have been interpreted by some readers as “anti-Semitic” and I have received hate speech as a result.

I look forward to your response and to a continuing dialogue among American Progressives concerning Zionism and what constitutes “extremism” and “anti-Semitism”.

Sincerely,

FELICE PACE
Klamath, CA 95548

FELICE PACE lives in Klamath, California. He can be reached at unofelice@gmail.com


Since when is the Southern Poverty Law Center a pro-Israel organization?

Phil Weiss, Mondoweiss

Here’s an item for the PEP file: Progressive Except Palestine, that malady of liberal politics in the United States.

Today 60 members of the Republican National Committee are flying off to Israel and occupied Palestine at the behest of a rightwing Christian organization called the American Family Association. The trip is said to cost $400,000. Reince Priebus, the head of the RNC, and party secretary Susie Hudson are reported to be on the junket.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has urged the RNC to cancel the trip because the American Family Association is bigoted against minorities in the United States.

As a result, the American Family Association fired an official who had made repugnant statements about the US being a Christian country.

Then Rachel Maddow covered the hullabaloo on MSNBC. She too focused on the AFA’s bigoted record (video doesn’t load or I’d quote it verbatim). As Nadia Saah wrote on the MSNBC site:

Rachel, I appreciate that you’re troubled by the AFA’s position that America was ‘established as a Christian nation in the name of God and for the advancement of the Christian faith’ – But how do you feel about Israel as a Jewish State, created at the expense of the indigenous Palestinians who were driven out from their homes in 1948 in order to make Israel more purely Jewish? And about the 600k+ illegal Jewish settlers in the West bank who, with the full support of the Israeli government, are stealing what is left of Palestinian land ?– About Israel’s law of return for Jews only, and the 50+ discriminatory laws that undermine the rights of non-Jews inside Israel?

Good luck, Ms. Saah; but I’ve never heard Rachel Maddow talk about Palestinian human rights.

As for the Southern Poverty Law Center, it is a leading organization in the U.S. civil rights movement, founded in Montgomery, Alabama, 44 years ago. Its letter of complaint to the Republican National Committee praises Israel as the refuge for Jews worldwide, without any reference to Palestinians. Writes Richard Cohen, the head of the Southern Poverty Law Center:

“Given that the disease of anti-Semitism is flaring throughout the world, we certainly understand your desire to show your commitment to Israel at this time. But accepting funding from an extremist group like the AFA would make a mockery of that commitment and legitimize its extremism.”

The SPLC regards the AFA as a “hate group… due to its persistent use of falsehoods to demonize the LGBT community,” Jews, and other minorities, including statements by the fired official, Bryan Fischer, suggesting that “Jews are second-class citizens” and “we are a Christian nation, and not a Jewish or Muslim one.”

But Palestinians are second-class citizens, and Israel has created Jim Crow, apartheid conditions and worse across the occupation.

Then there’s People for the American Way, the group founded by Norman Lear. It has also come out against the trip. Its letter also has no problem with visiting Israel.

Although we have no objection to RNC members travelling to Israel, we urge you not to collaborate with those who are funding and coordinating this trip. The American Family Association and Mr. [David] Lane have made it clear that they view the Republican Party as a vehicle for ensuring that the U.S. government is operated by and for conservative Christians, at the expense of those of other faiths and no faith, and those Christians who do not share their particular beliefs.

But the trip isn’t just to Israel. It’s also to the occupied territories, according to Haaretz:

Participants will travel from the Galilee and Golan Heights to Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, [organizer David Lane] told Haaretz, with Jewish tour guides and two evangelical pastors in tow.

Haaretz also quotes an SPLC official praising Israel:

“Our issue is not with these folks going to Israel, which is an important ally and important for international policy,” said Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project of the SPLC. “Our issue is that one of our mainstream political parties and a group with these heinous beliefs is sponsoring it.”

But as I already wrote this morning, The core constituents of the Democratic Party are increasingly alienated by U.S. policy on Israel, according to Shibley Telhami: Hispanics, blacks, the young, and women want more balance in our policy.

When will liberal groups, from SPLC to People for the American Way to Rachel Maddow’s show, begin to reflect progressive public opinion? Till they do, they’re PEP.


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