The Southern Poverty Law Center has come under fire in the aftermath of a report showing the liberal nonprofit has transferred millions to offshore entities, including the Cayman Islands and other tax havens.
A Thursday analysis in the Washington Free Beacon found that the tax-exempt Alabama-based group, known as much for its fundraising prowess as its civil-rights work, sent more than $4 million to entities incorporated in the Cayman Islands, according to 2014 tax documents.
Financial consultants described the overseas dealings, which include financial interests in the British Virgin Islands and Bermuda, as “extremely unusual” and “a huge red flag” for a 501©3 organization.
The SPLC holds $328 million in net assets and raised more than $50 million in contributions in 2015 despite spending just $61,000 on legal services.
“It’s a totally fake organization,” said Fox News host Tucker Carlson in a Thursday night segment on the report.
Mat Staver, founder and chairman of the Liberty Counsel, one of dozens of conservative groups targeted on the SPLC’s “hate map,” called the financial disclosures “shocking.”
“It is shocking that a U.S.-based ‘charitable’ organization stashes millions of dollars in offshore accounts. I can think of no reason for doing so,” Mr. Staver said in a statement.
The SPLC, which is based in Montgomery, Alabama, and has offices in three other states, did not return immediately Fridaya request for comment.
A principal at the accounting firm that prepared the Alabama-based organization’s tax forms said she does not discuss client matters, then hung up on a reporter who tried to obtain the most updated forms, according to the Free Beacon.
The SPLC has long been derided for juicing its fundraising by stoking fears of white supremacists, but so far the criticism hasn’t dissuaded high-profile donors such as Apple CEO Tim Cook, who contributed $1 million after last month’s melee in Charlottesville, Virginia.
George and Amal Clooney also donated $1 million to “combat hate groups” following the violent clash between white nationalists and leftist counter-protesters.
D. James Kennedy Ministries in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, filed a defamation lawsuit last week against the SPLC after being listed alongside neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan on the “hate map” of 917 groups.
“If the SPLC were intellectually honest, it should re-title its ‘Hate Map’ into ‘Groups We Hate Map,’” Mr. Staver said.
The watchdog group CharityWatch has downgraded the SPLC from a grade of “B-” to “F” for keeping more than seven years’ available assets in reserve.
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