News & Politics

SPLC 'Hate Group' List Revealed to Be a Cynical Fundraising Scheme

SPLC 'Hate Group' List Revealed to Be a Cynical Fundraising Scheme logo: Nick Ansell/PA Wire (Press Association via AP Images)

On Friday, Citizens for Corporate Accountability (CCA) delivered a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos demanding his corporation stop using the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) “hate group” list. On Thursday, CCA bought a full-page ad in the Montgomery Advertiser, the newspaper in Montgomery, Ala., where the SPLC is based, demanding the far-left smear factory withdraw its “hate map” and submit to a truly independent investigation.

The SPLC gained its reputation by taking the Ku Klux Klan to court, but in recent decades it has used its “hate group” list to smear mainstream conservative and Christian organizations, listing them along with the KKK. Shamefully, news outlets, social media companies, and major corporations have taken the “hate group” list as gospel.

Amazon has been one of the worst offenders. The website runs a charity donation program called Amazon Smile, and it has excluded conservative and Christian groups from the program based on their presence on the SPLC list. D. James Kennedy Ministries sued the SPLC and Amazon in response. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a prominent Christian law firm, was also excluded, despite the fact that its ideological opponents at ACLU and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation have insisted ADF is not a “hate group.”

“It is regrettable that Amazon has played a part in this corrupt speech suppression effort by using the SPLC’s lists in the Amazon Smile program,” CCA Executive Director Brian Glicklich told PJ Media in a statement. “Today, however, there is no legitimate reason for Amazon to continue its reliance on this fraudulent and fatally flawed product.”

“We request and require that Amazon immediately terminate use of SPLC’s ‘hate group’ list and associated materials in determining eligibility for the Amazon Smile program,” Glicklich said.

The letter, sent to Bezos and Amazon Senior Vice President of Global Corporate Affairs Jay Carney, demanded that Amazon drop the “hate group” list and “publicly renounce” it.

“The ‘hate group’ list falsely purports to identify dangerous organizations promoting hate and violence, and Amazon has acceded to the demands of SPLC that Amazon terminate participation of named organizations in the Amazon Smile program,” the letter states. “However, this list mixes together racist and violent organizations like the Ku Klux Klan with those that simply espouse mainstream political and social views with which the SPLC and apparently many of its donors disagree. For this reason, the list is permanently compromised, and cannot be relied upon for business decisions by Amazon or any other organization.”

The letter also mentions the far-left smear factory’s debilitating racism and sexism scandal. In recent weeks, the SPLC fired its co-founder, Morris Dees, President Richard Cohen stepped down, and Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson removed herself from the Board of Directors. Tina Tchen, Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff and a lawyer who attempted to help Jussie Smollett’s hate hoax, is leading an internal investigation. Conservatives have decried the choice of Tchen, due to her liberal connections.

Mainstream media outlets have covered the organization’s corruption, and two exposes have revealed the “hate group” list to be a crass marketing ploy.

“Numerous employees and journalists have reported that the SPLC’s so-called ‘hate group’ list is not a principled database, but rather a highly successful and cynical fundraising tool,” the CCA letter reads. “Former employees have described in great detail how the now-terminated SPLC founder developed the list to generate large donations from ‘gullible northern liberals.'”

Current Affairs Editor Nathan J. Robinson slammed the “hate map” as an “outright fraud,” a “willful deception designed to scare older liberals into writing checks to the SPLC.”

The “hate group” list has numerous problems. First, the group defames mainstream conservative and Christian groups that are not hateful at all. The list also inflates numbers by counting each chapter of an organization as a separate “group.” In addition, as Robinson pointed out, some of the “groups” are defunct, have only one person, or may just be a blog. A PJ Media analysis found that the “hate group” list inflates the numbers at least three times over.

The CCA letter denounces an “insidious conspiracy – that the ‘hate group’ list is a deceptive ongoing direct mail pitch designed to raise millions by sowing fear, division, and hate in American life.”

Given all this, Amazon should immediately drop the “hate group” list and publicly denounce it.

“We believe that the moral bankruptcy of the SPLC and its politically-motivated ‘hate group’ list is so clear, convincing, and well reported that no further detail is required in this letter,” the letter reads. “If you do not respond favorably, please know that we will ask Amazon shareholders, employees, and vendors, and the general public, for their support, with the intention of running a public information campaign.”

CCA gave Amazon ten business days from the date of the letter to respond.

This letter to Amazon is the first in a series of pressure campaigns CCA will launch against the SPLC’s corporate supporters.

In the Montgomery Advertiser ad, CCA called on the SPLC to take two concrete actions to redeem itself.

“We demand that the SPLC appoint a truly independent public ombudsman to investigate financial and employment improprieties, and report directly to the donor public without censorship. Your appointment of Tina Tchen, with no public accountability, does not fulfill this role,” the ad declared.

“We demand that the SPLC withdraw its so-called ‘hate map,’ which has been exposed by insiders as little more than a cynical fundraising tool. The SPLC must stop sowing the divisions it claims to cure.”

Speaking about the ad, Glicklich emphasized the news reports in a statement to PJ Media Thursday.

“Given the number of articles and depth of detail about SPLC’s actions, CCA cannot imagine any public corporation will not want to distance themselves from SPLC immediately,” he said. “Politics belong in the political arena, and public companies should not stand on the throats of benign social and religious organizations to help SPLC raise more money. ”

The SPLC faces many defamation lawsuits regarding the “hate group” list — and these came before the list was revealed to be a cynical fundraising ploy.

After the SPLC defamed Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz as an “anti-Muslim extremist,” Nawaz sued and the SPLC settled for $3.375 million. About 60 organizations started considering lawsuits of their own.

Last December, Baltimore lawyer Glen Keith Allen filed a mammoth lawsuit against the far-left smear factory. Last month, the SPLC hired a high-powered lawyer to defend itself from Allen’s suit, suggesting it takes this attack very seriously. The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), one of the organizations that signed on to the letter, is suing for wire fraud under RICO. Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes is also suing for defamation. The American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) sued the Michigan Department of Civil Rights after the department announced investigations into SPLC-designated “hate groups.”

This week, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) demanded an IRS investigation into the SPLC’s tax-exempt status.

The SPLC’s last few weeks have been hectic, but the storm is still brewing. Amazon had better get out before the scandal gets any worse.

Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.