Sen. Cotton Seeks IRS Inquiry Into Southern Poverty Law Center’s Tax Status

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by Fred Lucas

 

Sen. Tom Cotton has asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the Southern Poverty Law Center, a liberal activist organization that regularly brands organizations it opposes as “hate groups.”

Cotton, R-Ark., said the probe is needed for “protecting taxpayer dollars from a racist and sexist slush fund devoted to defamation.”

The Arkansas lawmaker wrote a letter Tuesday to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, calling for the tax agency to probe whether the SPLC should retain its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.

“Recent news reports have confirmed the long-established fact that the SPLC regularly engaged in defamation of its political opponents,” he wrote. “In fact, the SPLC’s defining characteristic is to fundraise off of defamation.”

Sen. Tom Cotton has asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the Southern Poverty Law Center, a liberal activist organization that regularly brands organizations it opposes as “hate groups.”

Cotton, R-Ark., said the probe is needed for “protecting taxpayer dollars from a racist and sexist slush fund devoted to defamation.”

The Arkansas lawmaker wrote a letter Tuesday to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, calling for the tax agency to probe whether the SPLC should retain its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.

“Recent news reports have confirmed the long-established fact that the SPLC regularly engaged in defamation of its political opponents,” he wrote. “In fact, the SPLC’s defining characteristic is to fundraise off of defamation.”

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He added, “The business model has paid well.”

The letter notes that the SPLC has $500 million in assets with $121 million in offshore non-U.S. assets. The letter cites a CNN report that said the organization “suffers from a racist culture” and a New York Times article that said employees described the SPLC as “complicit in decades of racial discrimination, gender discrimination, and sexual harassment and/or assault.”

The letter also notes that mainstream conservative-leaning organizations such as the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Family Research Council, and the Center for Immigration Studies were listed on a “hate map” along with the Ku Klux Klan, a known racist domestic terrorist organization.

The Daily Signal contacted the SPLC’s media office, where a spokesman said he would respond to an inquiry as soon as possible. At press time, the SPLC had not responded.

However, SPLC board Chairman Bryan Fair told supporters the organization is trying to deal with its problems.

“Right now, as you may have read, we’re facing some internal workplace challenges. But we’re meeting them in the same way that we’re meeting every other challenge that we face—with a fierce commitment to do justice,” Fair said.

We’ve just launched an initiative with Tina Tchen—a former chief of staff for Michelle Obama and one of the leading voices behind the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund—to advise us on workplace culture issues.

Everyone who works at the SPLC deserves a workplace that reflects our highest values, and we’re committed to making sure that it happens,” he said.

Morris Dees, the co-founder of the SPLC, stepped down from the organization amid vague charges of discrimination. SPLC President Richard Cohen wasn’t accused of wrongdoing, but also resigned “to give the organization the best chance to heal.” The organization was reportedly fending off a staff revolt.

Cotton’s letter noted that Dees earned $400,000 annually.

“Perhaps the SPLC was founded for a notable purpose and decades ago, it performed some good work, but what is left of the SPLC is no longer operating in a consistent manner with the IRS guidelines and applicable law,” Cotton concluded in his letter to the IRS.

“Based on this concerning information, and the flood of recent reports, I encourage you to take immediate action,” he wrote.

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Fred Lucas is the White House correspondent for The Daily Signal and co-host of “The Right Side of History” podcast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appeared at and reprinted from DailySignal.org

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One Thought to “Sen. Cotton Seeks IRS Inquiry Into Southern Poverty Law Center’s Tax Status”

  1. William R. Delzell

    The Southern Poverty Law Center also has its critics from the left as well as from the right. Several people to the left of Dees have accused his obsessive desire to sue the Klan with diverting the Center from dealing with more important issues like economic/social justice issues as decent affordable housing for lower and middle classes; racially equitable criminal justice systems; oversight of police corruption and brutality against low-income and/or minority people; environmental justice; and so forth.

    When I used to be a dues-paying member in the 1970’s, the Center was more concerned with defending the indigent against trumped up charges by crooked prosecutors, unsafe working conditions in places of employment, inadequate and environmentally unsafe housing, equal pay for all public schools regardless of their neighborhood’s socio-economic status, and so forth.

    But then the Center changed its focus to monitoring hate groups. I don’t object to all of this as it has exposed some very dangerous groups. Indeed, the Center has shown DOMESTIC white terrorists to pose a greater threat to the public safety than any foreign Islam groups. It has also exposed the failure of the main-stream media to give these domestic right-wing white terrorist groups the attention they deserve. This part of their hate-group monitoring is essentially a good practice.

    However, my complaint against the Center is its over-focusing on badly financially weakened Ku Klux Klan groups at the neglect of other far stronger hate groups and especially at the neglect to the Center’s earlier, much more important, 1970’s agenda of pursuing social justice.

    Finally, the allegations of Dees’s financial self-aggrandizement also concerns me deeply.

    That is partly why I let my financial contributions to the Center fall off since the 1980’s, although my late parents became dues-paying members by the 1990’s until their deaths shortly after 2011.

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