March 14, 2019

CHANGE: Southern Poverty Law Center Fires Founder Morris Dees. “The SPLC announced Thursday afternoon that Dees—who in 1971 co-founded the far-left nonprofit, which has regularly been cited by major outlets over the years for its ‘hate’ group designations that oftentimes lump Republican groups in with actual racist groups—has parted ways with its founder.”

Related: SPLC Co-Founder Morris Dees Fired, Outside Audit Ordered.

“Effective yesterday, Morris Dees’ employment at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) was terminated,” SPLC President Richard Cohen told The Montgomery Advertiser in a statement on Thursday. “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. 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.”

Dees, 82, co-founded the SPLC in 1971. The organization gained a reputation for taking the Ku Klux Klan to court and then it started labeling and tracking “hate groups.” In recent decades, it started listing conservative and Christian organizations along with the KKK, and last year it settled a defamation lawsuit for $3.375 million.

Dees’s departure is not the only big news Cohen broke on Thursday, however.

“Today we announced 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,” Cohen said in the statement.

“The SPLC is deeply committed to having a workplace that reflects the values it espouses – truth, justice, equity and inclusion, and we believe the steps we have taken today reaffirm that commitment,” he concluded.

In 1994, the Montgomery Advertiser took a deep dive into the organization’s activities, uncovering some evidence of discrimination against black employees.

Last December, a Baltimore lawyer filed a lawsuit taking aim at the SPLC’s tax-exempt status. His suit is moving toward the discovery period, and SPLC’s decision to clean house may have resulted from this litigation, first reported by PJ Media.

Sounds like there could be more revelations, and shakeups, to come.

UPDATE: This seems right: “The announcement was deliberately vague as to what Dees did to prompt his dismissal from an organization he built into a $500 million smear machine, but it must have been very bad, indeed.” Reportedly, there are claims of both sexual and racial harassment by Dees, according to leaked emails.

“The recent resignation of a black female attorney, Meredith Horton, seems to have been the ‘last straw’ in terms of the SPLC’s issues with women and minority employees.”

Stay tuned.

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