Southern Poverty Law Center Advances Hard-left Hate Agenda Against Law Enforcement

By Jerome R. Corsi, Ph.D.

WASHINGTON, D.C.   The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt foundation headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama, is quick to demonize law enforcement in any conflict with minorities typically protected by the hard-core left that increasingly has taken control of the Democratic Party.

“Legitimate” Riots

On Aug. 21, 2014, SPLC Outreach Director Lecia Brooks condemned police in an SPLC published article entitled “Rage in Ferguson Offers Important Lesson,” following the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. She wrote:


The seemingly nonstop coverage of protests in Ferguson, Missouri, by cable news networks provided little beyond a disturbing loop of images – officers with guns trained on civilians, smoking tear gas canisters flying through the night air and the surreal sight of armored vehicles rolling through an American city. Almost two weeks after Michael Brown died in the street after being shot by a police officer a half-dozen times, this nation hasn’t taken the steps necessary to understand the root causes of the rage in Ferguson.


Brooks’ goal was to legitimate the riots in Ferguson, ignoring the “rent-a-riot” leftist activists funded by billionaire George Soros and his Open Society Foundation funded to incite violence. “The rage in Ferguson goes beyond the death of Michael Brown. It’s about what African Americans in Ferguson and elsewhere experience every day.”

Brooks continued to politicize the Ferguson riots as the legitimate protest of a downtrodden minority that faces discrimination by brutally unsympathetic police, who have gone rogue in a wave of retaliatory oppressive violence in order to hold Ferguson’s black community in check.  “For too many, it is a cycle of poverty, discrimination and hopelessness. It is life in neighborhoods where encounters with the local police leave residents feeling that the police aren’t there to protect and serve – but are rather an occupying force,” Brooks concluded.

Similarly, when asked to characterize BLM as a hate group, SPLC refused to do so, arguing that while Black Lives Matter protesters have said “offensive things, like the chant ‘pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon’,” BLM was formed as a reaction to white racism.

On July 19, 2016, SPLC President Richard Cohen wrote:


The backlash to BLM, in some ways, reflects a broad sense of unease among white people who worry about the cultural changes in the country and feel they are falling behind in a country that is rapidly growing more diverse in a globalizing world. We consistently see this phenomenon in surveys showing that large numbers of white people believe racial discrimination against them is as pervasive, or more so, than it is against African Americans.”[1]



SPLC was founded in 1971 by two Alabama lawyers, Morris Dees and Joseph Levin, Jr.

Rosslyn Smith wrote in the American Thinker that Dees began as a direct marketer, “hawking everything from cookbooks to tractor seat cushions.”[2] Dees’ first law partner, Millard Fullner, said of Dees’ direct marketing ventures in the 1960s that “Morris and I, from the first days of our partnership, shared the overriding purpose of making a pile of money … We were not particular about how we did it.  We just wanted to be independently rich. During the eight years we worked together we never wavered in that resolve.”[3]

Smith noted that Dees got rich by the mid-1960s, working the leftist side of politics.


The initial donor list of the SPLC consisted of those who had contributed to McGovern's political campaign, because Dees ran that campaign's direct mail operation and had requested the mailing list as his fee. The Southern-born Dees knew that many of the northern liberals on McGovern's donor list would get a vicarious thrill from sending a check to the Alabama-based SPLC to fight the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists.


Smith further pointed out that Dees raised money for Jimmy Carter in 1976 and wanted to be his attorney general. “After Carter left office, spokesman Jody Powell made no bones about his disgust with Dees and the use of appeals in SPLC mailings that were intentionally designed to play up to the stereotypes ‘ignorant Yankee contributors’ had about Southerners,” Smith wrote.

In deciding to target the Klan, Dees joined forces with civil rights activist Julian Bond, identifying the SPLC as a “nonprofit civil rights organization” committed to “fighting hate and bigotry,” seeking justice for “the most vulnerable members of society.” Conservative writer David Horowitz’s Discover the Networks project identifying leftist activists and organizations notes the SPLC “describes the United States as a country ‘seething’ with ‘racial violence’ and ‘intolerance against those who are different’.”[4] 

Discover the Networks further notes that according to the SPLC, hate in America is “a dreadful, daily constant,” with violent crimes against members of minority groups like blacks, Hispanics, homosexuals, and Arabs/Muslims “not isolated incidents,” but rather “eruptions of a nation’s intolerance.”  Horowitz notes that to combat this epidemic of perceived right-wing “bigotry,” SPLC dedicates itself to “tracking and exposing” the activities of “hate groups and other extremists throughout the United States.”

Hatred = Money

There is no doubt Dees has gotten rich on his strategy to label conservative activists and groups as right-wing “haters” that deserve to be observed and condemned, if not investigated a prosecuted.

According to the SPLC’s IRS Form 990s, the SPLC has become wealthy, reporting total assets worth of $353.2 million in 2015 – that consisted largely of a $319.3 million investment account held in the Cayman Islands with investment holdings composed predominately of securities that are not publicly traded.[5]

SPLC also remains lucrative for Morris Dees, with IRS Form 990s showing he earned $406,271in total compensation from SPLC in 2015 as chief trial counsel, followed by Richard Cohen, who earned $402,790 as SPLC president.

In 2007, Harper’s Magazine published a letter from Stephen Bright, an Atlanta-based civil rights attorney, who wrote declining an invitation to hear Morris Dees speak at a University of Alabama School of Law commencement. In the letter, Bright characterized Dee’s “flagrantly misleading” solicitations for donations to the SPLC. Bright wrote:

He [Dees] has raised millions upon millions of dollars with various schemes, never mentioning that he does not need the money because he has $175 million and two “poverty palace” buildings in Montgomery. He has taken advantage of naive, well-meaning people–some of moderate or low incomes–who believe his pitches and give to his $175-million operation. He has spent most of what they have sent him to raise still more millions, pay high salaries, and promote himself. Because he spends so much on fund raising, his operation spends $30 million a year to accomplish less than what many other organizations accomplish on shoestring budgets.[6]


Still, the SPLC has drawn millions of dollars from scores of charitable foundations, including the Ford Foundation, the J.M. Kaplan Fund, Ploughshares Fund, the Public Welfare Fund, the Vanguard Public Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and George Soros’ Open Society Foundation.[7]  According to the group’s IRS Form 990, the SPLC received $50.3 million in contributions and grants in 2015.

Identified as “the left’s favorite attack dog,”[8] the SPLC is infamous for targeting conservative political activists as “right-wing extremists” and identifying conservative political organizations as “hate groups.” In its “The Year in Hate and Extremism” for 2017, the SPLC noted the “radical right was more successful in entering the political mainstream last year than in half a century,” arguing that the election of Donald Trump as president “seemed virtually unimaginable since George Wallace ran for president in 1968.”[9] 

As part of that list, the SPLC Intelligence Project separately identified 623 “active patriot groups in the United States in 2016”  as “extreme antigovernment groups” – a list that included many Tea Party organizations.[10]  Included in the SPLC list of extreme antigovernment groups was conservative heroine Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, identified 25 separate time on the list, for 25 different states in which the group is active.

On February 18, 2016, in an article entitled “Does the Southern Poverty Law Center Target Conservatives,” The Christian Science Monitor noted that in 2014, the SPLC targeted GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson in their “Extremist Files.” This created a backlash. 

“In February 2015, after criticism of his inclusion, the group apologized to the candidate,” The Christian Science Monitor wrote.  “The SPLC said that while some might consider Dr. Carson’s statements, including several that referenced Adolf Hitler, and comments on gay marriage, to be extreme, he should not have been branded an extremist.”[11]

But just as the SPLC has refused to classify a leftist organization like Black Lives Matter as a hate group, the group also refused to track Occupy Wall Street, even after the “Cuyahoga 5,”[12] a group affiliated with the movement, plotted to blow up a bridge in Cleveland in 2012.[13] 

After this incident, Charles C. W. Cook, then editor of the National Review, called up the SPLC to see if the SPLC had any plans to start tracking the Occupy movement as a hate group.  Unsatisfied with the answers he received, Cooke reasoned that for the SPLC, being on the “Left” equals “good,” and “Right” equals “bad,” therefore anything “Left” could not be “bad” unless it were infiltrated by the “Right.”[14] 

The SPLC’s obvious hypocrisy left Cooke no alternative but to conclude that the SPLC itself was a hard-left ideologically-driven hate group.

“In my time covering occupy Wall Street, I have seen anti-Semitism, black nationalism, class hatred, and threats of violence; there have been rapes, a few murders, and now some domestic terrorism,” Cooke wrote. “One would have thought that these things would be sufficient warrant for a group like the Southern Poverty Law Center to stand up and take serious note, but, as I learned yesterday, there’s one problem: They’re just ‘not set up to cover the extreme Left.’”

In January 2017, after the election of Donald J. Trump as president, ProPublica, a left-wing non-profit media outlet funded by Soros, decided to partner with SPLC and several other groups “overtly hostile to conservatives”[15] to brand a new project Documenting Hate, dedicating a new website to “build authoritative data on hate crimes and bias incidents.”[16]

In March 2014, the FBI dropped the SPLC from its “hate crimes” website, where “the controversial group was listed as a resource and referred to as a partner in public outreach.”[17]

In April 2013, the conservative Family Research Council in Washington released a video obtained from the FBI in which federal law enforcement officials questioned Floyd Lee Corkins II after he attacked the group’s headquarters with a loaded weapon the previous year.  Corkins told interrogators in the video that he attacked the Family Research Council because the SPLC had listed the Christian organization as an anti-gay “hate group”

The Washington Examiner reported that Corkins, who pleaded guilty to terrorism charges, said in court that he hoped to “kill as many as possible and smear the Chick-Fil-A sandwiches in victims’ faces, and kill the guard.” The Washington Examiner explained “the shooting occurred after an executive with Chick-Fil-A announced his support for traditional marriage, angering same-sex marriage proponents.”[18]

In 2009, after the election of Barack Obama as president, Alexander Cockburn, the editor of the left-leaning, called Morris Dees the “king of the hate business,” as well as the “arch-salesman of hate-mongering.”  Cockburn excoriated Dees and the SPLC for peddling hate for dollars ever since the group’s founding in 1971.


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.”

In full disclosure, this author acknowledges that he too has been a repeat victim of SPLC hate-mongering.

In 2008, after I authored the #1 New York Times bestselling book entitled The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality, the SPLC attacked me for appearing on a radio show to promote the book. On November 30, 2008, they wrote:

As Corsi wrapped up a flurry of interviews in August on major television talk shows like CNN's ‘Larry King Live,’ the Report [i.e., the SPLC’s “Intelligence Report”] revealed that he had been on the notorious ‘Political Cesspool’ show in July and was planning another appearance in late August … The aptly named ‘Cesspool’ is a blatantly racist and anti-Semitic weekly radio program hosted by Memphis, Tennessee, white nationalist James Edwards, a protégé of ex-Klan leader David Duke. In addition to Corsi, ‘Cesspool’ guests have included Duke, Holocaust denier Mark Weber and a whole ‘Who's Who’ of the radical right,” [19] 

I’m sure that had The Obama Nation endorsed Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, the SPLC would have championed me as a hero, regardless what radio show I appeared on to promote the book.

[1] Richard Cohen, president SPLC, “Black Lives Matter is Not a Hate Group,” Southern Poverty Law Center, July 19, 2016,

[2] Rosslyn Smith, “Southern Poverty Law Center’s Lucrative ‘Hate Group’ Label,” American Thinker, Aug. 20, 2012,

[3] Quoted in John Egerton, “Poverty Palace: How the Southern Poverty Law Center got rich fighting the Klan,” The Progressive, July 1988,

[4] “Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC),”, no date,

[5] Southern Poverty Law Center, IRS Form 990, for 2015, archived on SPLC website,  The fact the SPLC investment fund was managed in the Cayman Islands was disclosed on the group’s IRS Form 990 for 2014, archived on the website of,

[6] Ken Silverstein, “The Southern Poverty Business Model,” Harper’s Magazine, Nov. 2, 2007,

[7], loc.cit.

[8] Aaron Bandler, “7 Things You Need to Know About the Left’s Favorite Attack Dog, the Southern Poverty Law Center,” Daily Wire, May 4, 2017,

[9] “The Year in Hate and Extremism,” SPLC Intelligence Report, 2017 Spring Issue, Feb. 15, 2017,

[10] “Active Patriot Groups in the U.S. in 2016,” SPLC Intelligence Report, 2017 Spring Issue, Feb. 15, 2017,

[11] Max Lewontin, “Does the Southern Poverty Law Center target conservatives?” Christian Science Monitor, Feb. 18, 2016,

[12] Jim Treacher, Blogger, “Repeat: The Cleveland 5, the geniuses who tried to blow up a bridge for the 99%, are all Occupiers,” Daily Caller, May 2, 2012,

[13] Aaron Bandler, “7 Things You Need to Know About the Southern Poverty Law Center,” Daily Wire, Oct. 2016

[14] Charles C. W. Cooke, “Occupy the Southern Poverty Law Center,” National Review, May 4, 2012,

[15] Aly Nielsen, “Soros-Funded Media Launch Site for ‘Documenting Hate,’”, Jan. 17, 2017,

[16] “Documenting Hate,”, no date,

[17] Austin Rise, “FBI Dumps Southern Poverty Law Center as Hate Crimes Resource,”, March 26, 2014,

[18] Joel Gehrke, “FBI video: Domestic terrorist says he targeted conservative group for being ‘anti-gay,’” Washington Examiner, April 24, 2013,

[19] “Jerome Corsi Appears on White Supremacist Radio,” Southern Poverty Law Center, “Intelligence Report,” 2008 Winter Issue, Nov. 30, 2008,