SPLC looks like a sinking ship with two more high-level departures
The news that Morris Dees was kicked out of the organization he founded, the Southern Poverty Law Center, sent shockwaves out among leftists, including the many news outlets that accept without question its verdicts that conservatives are "hate groups." Major donors, like Google, were put on notice that they may have been misguided.
It turns out that those shockwaves have toppled more careers of big shots at the SPLC. The Montgomery Advertiser reports:
Southern Poverty Law Center President Richard Cohen said in a statement Friday he has asked the board of the troubled organization to "to immediately launch a search for an interim president in order to give the organization the best chance to heal," and took responsibility for problems that have swept out the senior leadership of the group in just a week.
Cohen, who has worked at the SPLC since 1986 and served as president since 2003, said in the statement that "we'll emerge stronger" after an audit of the organization's practices by Tina Tchen, a former White House official and Chicago-based lawyer.
"Given my long tenure as the SPLC president, however, I do not think I should be involved in that process beyond cooperating with Tina, her team, and the board in any way that may be helpful," the statement said. "Whatever problems exist at the SPLC happened on my watch, so I take responsibility for them."
When reached for comment on Friday evening, an SPLC spokesperson said the center cannot comment on the specifics of individual personnel decisions.
Ms. Tchen, a former member of Michelle Obama's staff, is not someone you would go to for a complete airing of evidence. She has a scandal of her own back home in Chicago, attempting to get the Chicago Police Department pulled off the Jussie Smollett case at the behest of his family. As the U.K. Daily Mail reports:
[Jussie] Smollett won an outpouring of sympathy and the Chicago Police Department said it was working vigorously to find who attacked him.
But behind the scenes, his family had enlisted lawyer Tina Tchen.
They were 'concerned' about details of the incident and Smollett's reports to investigators being leaked and said that they wanted the FBI to handle the case.
Tchen, who serves as Michelle Obama's Chief of Staff, contacted [state's attorney Kim] Foxx.
'I wanted to give you a call on behalf of Jussie Smollett and family who I know. They have concerns about the investigation,' she said in her first text which was obtained by The Chicago Sun Tribune.
Hours later, Foxx received a text from one of Smollett's relatives.
Over the course of the next two weeks, she tried to have the case handed over to the FBI.
'Spoke to the superintendent earlier. He is going to make the ask. Trying to figure out logistics. I'll keep you posted,' she said in a February 13 text.
By then, there had been questions surrounding Smollett's cooperation with the investigation but Smollett was, officially, still being treated as a victim.
The relative responded: 'OMG this would be a huge victory.'
Foxx replied: 'I make no guarantees but I'm trying.'
Later that day, she emailed Tchen saying: 'Spoke to the Superintendent Johnson. I convinced him to reach out to FBI to ask that they take over the investigation. He is reaching out now and will get to me shortly.'
Tchen was unsuccessful, and as result, the CPD charged Smollett, denying the family the "huge victory" they hoped for.
But even with a Democrat fixer in charge of the internal SPLC investigation, senior staff are bailing out. The Advertiser reports:
On Thursday, Rhonda Brownstein, SPLC legal director and a member of its senior leadership staff, also resigned, a source familiar with the matter confirmed to the Advertiser.
The Montgomery Advertiser, the hometown paper of the city where the Southern Poverty Law Center is headquartered, should (but probably won't for ideological reasons) get a Pulitzer Prize for leading the entire nation in reporting on the scandals at the SPLC. Taking on a rich (almost half a billion dollars in endowment) organization that employs litigious attorneys by the score takes courage. The SPLC occupies what I am told is the most lavish private building in Montgomery, reflective of its vast power in the community.
It is more than fair from now on to precede every newspaper reference to the SPLC with the modifier "scandal-ridden."