Google May Face RICO, Defamation Lawsuits Due to SPLC Partnership, Lawyers Say
In recent years, the far-Left Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has faced a slew of lawsuits regarding its deceptive practice of branding mainstream conservative and Christian groups "hate groups" on par with the Ku Klux Klan. Google has decided to partner with the SPLC, even encouraging employees to work for the organization. Conservative lawyers told PJ Media this partnership may make the tech giant vulnerable to defamation and racketeering lawsuits.
This month, Fortune reported that Google's philanthropic arm, Google.org, launched a program that will pay Google employees to do pro bono work for nonprofit groups for up to six months. The company aims to achieve 50,000 hours of pro bono work this year. Google.org names the SPLC as one of its partners for "inclusion." Google.org started funding the far-Left group in 2016, and has given the organization $250,000, specifically to fund a "total redesign of the Teaching Tolerance website."
"Teaching Tolerance," an SPLC project aimed at teachers for elementary, middle, and high schools across America, has referenced the SPLC's "hate map," endorsing the "hate group" labels, before and after Google.org funding. Even if Teaching Tolerance were distanced from the "hate group" smears, Google.org explicitly names the SPLC as the recipient of funding and the partner — which likely means Google employees can do pro bono work for the SPLC.
"It does appear that there's more than funding that is taking place between Google and the SPLC and other tech companies, to the point where there's interaction, potentially plotting, and the involvement of their so-called 'hate group' label that is designed for one reason — to destroy the opposition based on ideology," Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, told PJ Media. He said "it's plausible" Google may face RICO and defamation charges in future lawsuits.
"If I was Google's corporate counsel, I would be telling my board of directors that this is a very bad decision and they should not be involved with this organization," Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a former in-house corporate counsel, told PJ Media.
"I think that opens them up to potential liability. If one of their organizations is working for the SPLC, when the SPLC is sued under defamation or a RICO suit, that could potentially bring Google into the lawsuit," von Spakovsky added.
Google did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
A growing number of individuals and organizations have filed lawsuits against the far-Left group in recent years. The Christian nonprofit Liberty Counsel led the charge in June 2017, accusing the charity navigation website GuideStar of violating consumer protection laws by using SPLC's false and defamatory labels. D. James Kennedy Ministries followed with a defamation suit in August of that year. Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz also filed a defamation suit, since the SPLC had branded him an "anti-Islamic extremist."