On March 14, 2019, the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) announced that it had fired its co-founder, Morris Dees. An internal e-mail to SPLC staff referred to “inappropriate conduct” by Dees. Dees had been with the organization since its formation in 1971.
According to the Los Angeles Times, SPLC employees recently wrote to management “expressing concerns about the resignation last week of a highly respected black attorney at the organization and criticizing the organization’s work culture.” The employees’ letter expressed concern “that internal ‘allegations of mistreatment, sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and racism threaten the moral authority of this organization and our integrity along with it.’” SPLC President Richard Cohen announced that the organization would hire an outside entity to investigate its “internal climate and workplace practices.”
In the past, the SPLC was known for suing the Ku Klux Klan and other racist hate groups. In recent years, however, the well-funded nonprofit has become known for its controversial hate listings. The listings purport to track extremist groups, but have been heavily criticized for including groups (particularly mainstream Christian organizations) with whom the SPLC disagrees. In 2012, gunman Floyd Lee Corkins attacked the offices of Family Research Council (FRC) in Washington, D.C. after having seen that the Christian organization was included in the SPLC’s hate listings.
The SPLC has also made headlines for suing groups that assist individuals seeking to resolve unwanted same-sex attraction.