The troubles for the much-sued Southern Poverty Law Center got worse Thursday with the firing of co-founder and chief litigator Morris Dees.
The Montgomery Advertiser reported SPLC President Richard Cohen said in a statement Dees’ dismissal was effective Wednesday.
SPLC’s assets recently passed $500 million, of which about a quarter was being concealed in overseas bank accounts.
“As a civil rights organization, the SPLC is committed to ensuring that the conduct of our staff reflects the mission of the organization and the values we hope to instill in the world,” Cohen said in an email. “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.”
SPLC said it was announcing “a number of immediate, concrete next steps we’re taking, including bringing in an outside organization to conduct a comprehensive assessment of our internal climate and workplace practices, to ensure that our talented staff is working in the environment that they deserve – one in which all voices are heard and all staff members are respected.”
The newspaper said Dees’ biography appeared to be scrubbed from the group’s website. But no details of the circumstances that prompted the move against the multimillionaire were revealed.
A series of articles in the newspaper 20 years ago alleged the group discriminated against black employees.
It’s just the latest trouble for the SPLC. WND reported last week the American Freedom Law Center sued two Michigan officials for a policy directive that targets groups based on SPLC’s “hate” groups designation.
The lawsuit names Dana Nessel, the attorney general, and Agustin Arbulu, the director of the state Department of Civil Rights, as defendants.
Robert Muise, AFLC co-founder, said Michigan’s policy directive “should be dubbed the ‘Crimespeak Policy’ because it takes a page right out of George Orwell’s 1984, where the goal of ‘Thinkpol,’ the Thought Police, was to eradicate ‘crimespeak.'”
“In ‘1984,’ to even consider any thought not in line with the principles of those in power was ‘crimespeak,’ subjecting the perpetrator to punishment. The same is true of the challenged policy at issue here. Not surprisingly, this is what you get when you elect left-wing progressives to public office.”
AFLC noted SPLC, funded partly by left-wing billionaire activist George Soros, “has for years dishonestly and falsely labeled and smeared its political opponents as ‘hate’ groups in an effort to marginalize them and the work they do.”
In January, Cohen and SPLC’s Heidi Beirich were sued in federal court in Washington, D.C., by the Center for Immigration Studies under the nation’s organized crime law for “falsely” designating CIS as a “hate group.”
The civil case filed under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act charges they have violated federal wire fraud and other laws. It alleges a “pattern of racketeering through SPLC enterprise” and seeks a judgment of three times the damages to CIS as well as attorneys’ fees and costs.
It also seeks an order “prohibiting defendants from again calling CIS a hate group and requiring defendants to state on the SPLC website that CIS is not a hate group.”
SPLC was identified in 2012 by Floyd Lee Corkins II as the source of his information when he launched a violent attack on the Family Research Council that injured an FRC employee before he was stopped.
In an interview with the FBI, he admitted he wanted to kill as many as he could.
Author and pundit John Stossel once called SPLC a hate group itself.
SPLC also recently was sued by a lawyer who claims SPLC paid for stolen documents in an attempt to get him fired and destroy his future work prospects.
And a previous case brought against SPLC was settled by a payment of more than $3 million to Maajid Nawaz and his Quilliam Foundation, who sued after SPLC put them on its “hate” list.
As many as six dozen other organizations are considering similar cases against SPLC.
When Jeff Sessions was attorney general, he criticized SPLC as an illustration of “hostility” to religious believers.
That event was hosted by one of the groups that SPLC lumps together with the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups, the Alliance Defending Freedom, or ADF, reported the Daily Signal.
Sessions told ADF’s annual religious liberty conference in Washington, D.C., that “people of faith are facing a new hostility.”
“Really some of it is a bigoted ideology which is founded on animus towards people of faith,” he said. “You’ll notice that they don’t rely on the facts. They don’t make better arguments. They don’t propose higher ideals. They just call people names — like ‘hate group.’ Does that sound familiar?”
Sessions said SPLC once was a legitimate group that partnered with the FBI to identify racist groups. But now it is using the “hate” designation “as a weapon and they have wielded it against conservative organizations that refuse to accept their orthodoxy and choose instead to speak their conscience.”
“They use it to bully and intimidate groups like yours which fight for the religious freedom, the civil rights, and the constitutional rights of others,” he said.