This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, September 6, 2017:
From the very beginning, Dees wanted to get rich and it didn’t matter to him how. As his business partner Millard Fuller recalled: “Morris and I … 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.”
They started by direct marketing the sale of cookbooks and related items. But everything changed when they were able to purchase George McGovern’s mailing list of 700,000 names of liberals following his failed campaign for the presidency in 1972. They found that McGovern liberals were outraged over “southern poverty,” and with that outrage, coupled with Dees’ writing skills, they could rake in millions.
The breakthrough for them came in 1984 when Dees
brought a highly publicized lawsuit against the United Klans of America (UKA) on behalf of Beulah Mae Donald. Her son had been murdered by two UKA thugs in 1981, and Dees obtained a $7 million judgment against the Klan. Although the actual financial recovery from the nearly broke UKA amounted to less than $50,000, Dees turned it into a direct mail marketing goldmine, raising an estimated $9 million from his direct-mail solicitations.
“The die was cast,” said Mark Pulliam, writing for the City Journal: “Henceforth, the SPLC could pursue essentially meaningless but headline-grabbing cases, exploiting its uncollectible verdicts through sensational fundraising appeals that generated massive donations.”
So successful has Dees been in turning his public interest law firm into a marketing behemoth that he has been inducted into the Direct Marketing Association’s Hall of Fame. One single instance serves to make the point: in one mailing he included a return envelope with different stamps on them, indicating how broke and poor and needy was his organization that they had to scramble around to find enough postage for them.
Dees not only pays himself well – $370,000 in salary and bonuses in 2015 – but also Richard Cohen, the outfit’s president, who received a similar amount. The 75 attorneys associated with the SPLC enjoyed $20 million in salaries in 2015 as well. That was the same year that SPLC booked just $61,000 in expenses for “legal services.”
And its wealth has been piling up along the way. Dan Gainor of the Media Research Center(MRC) called out the SPLC for the fraud that it is:
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.
Its assets are over $328 million in 2015 [$353 million in 2016] 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.
This makes SPLC “probably the richest poverty organization in the history of the world,” said Charlotte Allen in The Weekly Standard.
When the Washington Free Beacon learned that in 2014 and 2015 Dees had moved some of his funds offshore, observers were outraged. They didn’t understand that Dees was treating his 501(c)3 law firm as most people treat their 401(k)s: he was seeking diversification of his retirement funds.
In 2014 he sent $960,000 to Tiger Global Private Investment Partners IX located in the Cayman Islands, $102,000 to BPV-III Cayman X Limited and $157,574 to BPV-III Cayman XI Limited. In 2015 Dees sent $2.2 million on two separate occasions to foreign entities with the same mailing address in Grand Cayman. The Beacon could find no other details over the transfers, while this writer noted that according to the website of Tiger Global Management, it takes investors’ monies and invests them “primarily in the global internet, technology, telecom, media, consumer and industrial sectors” with “a ten-year investment horizon and targets growth-oriented private companies.”
But this disclosure by the Beacon angered tax expert Amy Sterling Casil, CEO of the nonprofit consulting firm Pacific Human Capital, who, upon learning of the transactions, said:
I’ve never known a U.S.-based nonprofit dealing in human rights or social services to have any foreign bank accounts … I am stunned to learn of transfers of millions to offshore bank accounts.
It is a huge red flag and would [be] 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 U.S.-based charity to invest large sums overseas. I know of no legitimate reason for any U.S.-based nonprofit to put money in overseas, unregulated bank accounts.
Casil was making the same mistake that others like George Clooney, Tim Cook (Apple’s CEO), and JP Morgan were making: she thinks Dees’ outfit is legitimate. But it isn’t.
Cook’s company pledged $2 million and vowed to match employee contributions to the SPLC two-to-one. It then solicited its customers coming to its iTunes store to making further donations to Dees’ financial future.
The Baltimore Sun summed up Dees’ SPLC scam this way:
Its business is fundraising, and its success at raking in the cash is based on its ability to sell gullible people on the idea that present-day America is awash in white racism and anti-Semitism, which it will fight tooth-and-nail as the public-interest law firm that it purports to be.
In December Dees turns 81. It’s long past time for him to take his millions and retire.
The Washington Free Beacon: Southern Poverty Law Center Transfers Millions in Cash to Offshore Entities
The City Journal: A Demagogic Bully
The Social Contract: The Southern Poverty Law Center – An Introduction