by Richard McCarty
Liberal billionaires John and Laura Arnold would like for you to believe that they are not ideological, are guided by the facts, and are motivated by a desire to improve society. But the facts are otherwise: they have given millions of dollars to the abortion lobby, support a carbon tax, have donated millions to study ways of eroding gun rights, and have given generously to liberal Democrats. As if all of that is not bad enough, they have also awarded four grants worth more than $4.8 million to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which loves to falsely claim that conservative organizations are “hate groups.”
Who are the Arnolds? John Arnold graduated from Vanderbilt University and then went to work for Enron. While there, he traded natural gas derivatives. Shortly before the company collapsed, he received an $8 million bonus, the largest in Enron’s history. He used this bonus to set up his hedge fund. He hired former Enron employees, made his fortune, and announced his retirement at age 38. Laura Arnold has three degrees: a bachelor’s degree from Harvard, a master’s degree from Cambridge, and a law degree from Yale. After completing her education, she worked as a lawyer and as an oil industry executive. The Arnolds now devote their time to doling out money to their pet causes, including the SPLC.
For decades, the SPLC raised money by suing the Ku Klux Klan and winning big judgments for their clients. Unfortunately, these huge awards were of little value to SPLC clients because the KKK did not have many assets.
In more recent years, the SPLC adopted another fundraising gimmick: it issues regular reports about the “hate groups” in the country and has created a “Hate Map.” It is so desperate to find new “hate groups” that it sometimes just randomly labels individuals “hate groups.” Included on the SPLC’s “Hate Map” are plenty of conservative organizations; but, it leaves out hateful, violent left-wing groups.
The federal government has regarded the SPLC as an expert on extremism and has a long history of coordinating with law enforcement at the federal and state level. SPLC sources were among those used to draft the Department of Homeland Security right-wing extremism memo in 2009.
Year after year, the SPLC says the same thing: “The number of hate groups is rising. Send money.” And gullible liberals do just that. These fundraising gimmicks have been so successful that the SPLC was able to accumulate assets of more than $500 million — some of which is tucked away in the Cayman Islands, as a shady, Third World dictator might do.
Based on the hate group designation the SPLC gave to the Family Research Council (FRC), one rabid left-winger decided to go shoot up the place. But for the courageous actions of a security guard, there likely would have been a bloodbath there. In spite of this attempted terrorist attack, the SPLC stubbornly insists the Christian organization is a “hate group.”
To be sure, SPLC’s problems extend far beyond its dubious fundraising strategies. The SPLC was also in the headlines earlier this year for allegedly allowing its co-founder Morris Dees to sexual harass employees for years. Even worse, the organization is alleged to have retaliated against those who complained. This scandal finally led to Dees’ firing and the resignation of the organization’s president. But that’s not all. There have long been complaints that the SPLC functioned like a plantation with blacks consigned to lower positions while whites largely led the organization that is supposedly dedicated to fighting racism.
The SPLC is rotten to the core, and no decent, sensible person would give them a dime, much less millions of dollars. How could the smart, successful Arnolds — with a large staff to assist them — choose to support a scandalous organization like the SPLC? Rather than canceling their current grants and demanding refunds of previous grants, the Arnolds are standing pat with this despicable organization. Apparently, the Arnolds are fine with contributing to a fabulously wealthy nonprofit that mistreats women and blacks and is bigoted against people of faith. It is incomprehensible and absolutely disgraceful.
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Richard McCarty is the Director of Research at Americans for Limited Government Foundation.