What Is the Southern Poverty Law Center?
The SPLC calls itself “a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry.” It developed its reputation by monitoring the activities of racist organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan.
The SPLC was founded in 1971 by Morris Dees, who had made a fortune in direct mail marketing. He used the same skills at SPLC, turning it into a powerful fundraising machine. It has an annual budget of about $30 million, but also a massive “endowment” of $223 million as of 2010, including funds in bank accounts in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. The American Institute of Philanthropy has given SPLC a grade of “F” for continuing to fundraise while sitting on such a massive pile of money.
Journalist Ken Silverstein wrote in Harper’s Magazine in 2000, “Today, the SPLCspends most of its time—and money—on a relentless fund-raising campaign, peddling memberships in the church of tolerance with all the zeal of a circuit rider passing the collection plate.”