The Intrepid Explorer – April 15

As I read, watch and listen, I then contemplate through thoughts. Then, oftentimes, I write and share. However, it is never my intention to take a side or join a conflict. What I am merely trying to accomplish is to inform a bit and provoke a thought from the ones reading my words. I truly do care for people and I’m not influenced by race, religion, sexual preference or what pronoun you believe identifies you. I am about the truest form of freedom.

I recently stumbled onto a bit of knowledge that is so unbelievable, well not really, as there is very little that surfaces in these times of what is, that is shocking or unbelievable. But this one included Wyoming, so I paused to ponder.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, (SPLC) has a “Hate Watch” that monitors and exposes the activities of what they deem as the American radical right. By looking at the website, I found that Wyoming is listed as the home of hate. It indicates that we have become supportive of hate groups.

The SPLC, and its central theme of anti-LGBTQ organizing and ideology in the opposition to LGBTQ rights, couched in demonizing rhetoric and grounded in harmful pseudoscience that portrays LGBTQ people as threats to children, society and public health.

It seems like a squabble emerged in Gillette. The Campbell County Library faced a community group that opposed the library’s Pride Month book display. After a little shouting and foot stomping, the library canceled a performance that starred a transgender woman from Iowa. The result: Gillette made the list of shame on “Hate Watch.”

The SPLC has also labeled Wyoming as a strong supporter of the Patriot Front, which is a white nationalist hate group that formed in the aftermath of the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. I cannot find specific reasons why or what Wyoming has done to acquire this label, but to them we have. Again, the result, Wyoming has made the list of shame on “Hate Watch.”

The SPLC is a tax-exempt, charitable organization incorporated in 1971 under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Its mission is supported through donor contributions. It does not receive or use government funds. At the end of the fiscal year, its endowment stood at $471 million.

Alabama lawyer and businessman Morris Dees sympathized with the plight of the poor and the powerless. The son of an Alabama farmer, he had witnessed firsthand the devastating consequences of racial injustice. Dees decided to sell his successful book publishing business to start a civil rights law practice that would provide a voice for the deprived and the helpless. His decision led to the founding of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The SPLC, a nonprofit organization long regarded as a glorified direct-mail scam that profits from hate mongering, has come under fire for its shady financial practices. It seems they’ve been caught shuttling millions of dollars into offshore entities. Critics of the SPLC have characterized the group as a money racket that labels conservative organizations as “hate groups” to fundraise and its most recent financial forms may fuel that criticism.

The SPLC's founder, Morris Dees, originally promised to stop fundraising once the organization hit $50 million. Then, he upped the figure to $100 million. Then Dees, a member of the Direct Marketing Association's Hall of Fame, dropped the pretense of putting fake caps on his fundraising goals.

It appears that fear-mongering remains lucrative; the controversial group has continued to build its massive war chest by tens of millions of dollars even after employees claimed that the group's leadership allowed sexual harassment and racial discrimination against its minority staffers.

The SPLC nonprofit has pushed millions into offshore accounts, reported $162 million stashed in offshore investments and paid its disgraced former leaders over $1 million. Tax records show SPLC holds “financial interests” in the Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands and Bermuda.

“I am stunned to learn of transfers of millions to offshore bank accounts,” voiced Amy Sterling Casil, CEO of Pacific Human Capital, a California-based nonprofit consulting firm. “It is a huge red flag and would have been completely unacceptable to any wealthy, responsible, experienced board member who is committed to a charitable mission.”

The media firestorm ultimately did lead to the ousting of Morris Dees, longtime president Richard Cohen and legal director Rhonda Brownstein from the group, though each did receive six-figure severance packages.

The SPLC has become famous for its “hate list” targeting conservatives. After violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, resulted in a young woman’s death, George Clooney donated $1 million, which was spent on fundraising efforts, as that is SPLC’s single biggest expense. What was left undoubtedly ended up in an offshore account in the Cayman Islands, which is one of the world’s most infamous tax havens, as that’s where the nonprofit likes to park millions of its dollars.

“I’ve never heard of a group with ‘poverty’ in its name that has so much money,” said Kerri Kupec of the Alliance for Defending Freedom, an organization that has been on the receiving end of SPLC’s well-funded campaigns. “On other hand, considering who we are talking about, it comes as no surprise. Whether it’s shady money transfers or being discredited for decades by investigative journalists and charity watchdogs as a ‘direct mail scam,’ the Southern Poverty Law Center lost its way a long time ago.” - dbA

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