Jim Stinson, Lifezette, November 1, 2016
The Federation for American Immigration Reform said it will pursue a federal complaint against the left-leaning Southern Poverty Law Center of Alabama.
FAIR officials say the longtime civil rights watchdog group has violated its nonprofit status and become a partisan “propaganda” agency, especially on the issue of immigration.
Dan Stein, president of FAIR, said the organization will be soon filing a 100-page tax complaint with the IRS documenting the degree to which the center engaged in illegal political activity prior to the November election. Stein said he wants the IRS to yank the center’s tax status as a 501(c)(3) operation.
The Advertiser, the Alabama capital’s daily newspaper, reported that the center had few if any African-Americans as managerial employees, and that the center exaggerated the threats from racist groups to raise money.
According to the center’s website, that may have changed — a little. Three of 16 members of their leadership team are black. Four of the center’s 16 members of their board of directors are black.
As for money, the center has quite an expensive headquarters in Montgomery. And it has quite a few bills to pay: Not only is the center home to the Civil Rights Memorial and its “interpretive” center, the Civil Rights Memorial Center, the organization has four other offices in the South — in Atlanta, Miami, New Orleans, and Jackson, Mississippi.
Stein, the president of FAIR, said the center has only recently expanded its mission to immigration. Originally, the center had no stance on illegal immigration, or the number of legal immigrants the nation should let in.
As time went on, Stein alleges, the center saw political and financial opportunity in attacking critics of illegal and legal immigration. The Southern Poverty Law Center did not return messages left by LifeZette.
The center was widely known as publishing a list of extreme and racist groups. If a group made the list, it was almost certainly extreme or racist — in the group’s early years.
But as the center sought to expand its direct-mail appeals for cash, it began adding political activists it would have ignored in the 1970s and 1980s. The center eventually expanded its list of haters to a list of extremists.
On that list are some groups and people who are quite unlike the Klan and the Black Panthers. Some are religious leaders who oppose homosexuality — like the Family Research Council. Some are staunch defenders of Israel. The list includes: Stein; David Horowitz, the Jewish conservative writer; Alex Jones, the eccentric founder of InfoWars.com; and Joseph Farah, who runs WorldNetDaily.com.
Stein said his group has been criticized by the Southern Poverty Law Center for a while, but the campaign of Republican Donald Trump, now the president-elect, ratcheted things up.
Stein said the center began criticizing Trump every day, and was no longer trying to walk the line between its charitable legal mission and that of a political organization. Stein said when journalists and government officials use FAIR’s research, they are soon assailed by the center’s members.