Southern Poverty Law Center Transfers Millions to Offshore Accounts

Apparently there's big money in smearing conservatives as bigots.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a tax-exempt leftist attack dog that has somehow gained media credibility as the official designator of "hate" groups in the country, is pushing millions of dollars to offshore entities, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

The SPLC has been the focus of controversy lately due to its map of "domestic hate groups" that smears mainstream conservative organizations such as the David Horowitz Freedom Center, Jihad Watch, and even the Freedom Center's Daniel Greenfield by including them alongside, say, the Ku Klux Klan.

After the recent violence in Charlottesville, CNN ran a story that was originally titled, "Here are all the active hate groups where you live" using SPLC's list of 917 groups.

Brad Dacus, the president of the Sacramento-based Pacific Justice Institute, which defends "religious freedom, parental rights, and other civil liberties without charge," was named on the "hate groups" list. "Why is the Southern Poverty Law Center doing this? It's simple," said Dacus. "They want to vilify and isolate anyone that doesn't agree with their very extremist leftist policy and ideology. This isn't about defending civil rights; this is about attacking civil rights."

Mat Staver is the founder of Liberty Counsel, a Christian nonprofit that also found a place on the SPLC's list. "I am shocked that CNN would publish such a false report on the heels of the Charlottesville tragedy," he said. "To lump peaceful Christian organizations, which condemn violence and racism, in with the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists is offensive. This is the epitome of fake news and is why people no longer trust the media."

CNN later changed its headline to reflect the missing little detail that the list of hate groups came from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

"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," Dan Gainor, vice president of Business and Culture at the Media Research Center, told the Free Beacon. "Its assets are over $328 million in 2015 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."

On its 2015 Form 990, the most recently available tax form from the nonprofit, the SPLC recorded more than $50 million in contributions and $328 million in net assets, says the Beacon. SPLC's business income tax return from the same year shows that they have "financial interests" in the Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, and Bermuda.

The Beacon discovered a form from 2014 which shows that the SPLC transferred nearly a million dollars in cash to an account in the Cayman Islands. Another form shows that the nonprofit sent cash transfers of $102,007 and $157,574 in December of that year to a foreign entity located in the Caymans. At the beginning of 2015, the SPLC sent $2,200,000 to an entity incorporated in the Cayman Islands, and another $2,200,000 cash transfer was made on the same day to another fund whose business is located at the same address as the previous fund.

The Free Beacon reports that "Lucinda Chappelle, a principal at Jackson Thornton, the public accounting firm in Montgomery, Ala., that prepared the SPLC's tax forms, said she does not discuss client matters and hung up the phone when the Free Beacon contacted her in an attempt to get the most updated forms from the group in relation to its foreign business dealings."

"I've never known a US-based nonprofit dealing in human rights or social services to have any foreign bank accounts," said one tax expert:

"My impression based on prior interactions is that they have a small, modestly paid staff, and were regarded by most in the industry as frugal and reliable. I am stunned to learn of transfers of millions to offshore bank accounts. It is a huge red flag and would have been 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 US-based charity to invest large sums of money overseas," continued the expert. "I know of no legitimate reason for any US-based nonprofit to put money in overseas, unregulated bank accounts."

"It seems extremely unusual for a ‘501(c)(3)' concentrating upon reducing poverty in the American South to have multiple bank accounts in tax haven nations," a former Wall Street analyst and financial advisor told the Beacon.

Then there are the lucrative salaries paid to the SPLC's top executives:

Richard Cohen, president and chief executive officer of the SPLC, was given $346,218 in base compensation in 2015, its tax forms show. Cohen received $20,000 more in other reportable compensation and non-taxable benefits. Morris Dees, SPLC's chief trial counsel, received a salary of $329,560 with $42,000 in additional reportable compensation and non-taxable benefits.

The minimum amount paid to an officer, director, trustee, or key employee in 2015 was $140,000 in base salary, not including other compensation. The group spent $20 million on salaries throughout the year.

The SPLC, which claims to boast a staff of 75 lawyers who practice in the area of children's rights, economic justice, immigrant justice, LGBT rights, and criminal justice reform, reported spending only $61,000 on legal services in 2015.

Despite rolling in cash, the SPLC is also receiving massive donations from Apple CEO Tim Cook ($1 million), J.P Morgan Chase ($500,000), and actor George Clooney ($1 million).

So it seems there is big money in smearing conservatives as hateful bigots.