OFIR

Southern Poverty Law Center fires co-founder Morris Dees

The Southern Poverty Law Center fired Morris Dees, the nonprofit civil rights organization's co-founder and former chief litigator.

SPLC President Richard Cohen said in a statement Dees' dismissal over his misconduct was effective on Wednesday, March 13....

"As a civil rights organization, the SPLC is committed to ensuring that the conduct of our staff reflects the mission of the organization and the values we hope to instill in the world," Cohen said in the emailed statement. "When one of our own fails to meet those standards, no matter his or her role in the organization, we take it seriously and must take appropriate action."

Dees, 82, co-founded the Montgomery-based organization in 1971. 

"It was not my decision, what they did," Dees said when reached by phone. "I wish the center the absolute best. Whatever reasons they had of theirs, I don't know."...

Dees' termination is one of several steps taken by the organization this week, Cohen said. 

"Today we announced a number of immediate, concrete next steps we’re taking, including bringing in an outside organization to conduct a comprehensive assessment of our internal climate and workplace practices, to ensure that our talented staff is working in the environment that they deserve — one in which all voices are heard and all staff members are respected," Cohen said. 

What the SPLC wants the "next steps" to address or correct remains unclear. An SPLC spokesperson said the organization was "in the process of hiring" the firm for the workplace climate assessment, and no other leadership changes had been announced. 

A message seeking further comment was left on Cohen’s cell phone Thursday afternoon.

"I’ve read the statement they issued," Dees said when asked if he knew why he was fired. "I feel like some of the things in the statement were unfortunate. But I refuse to say anything negative about the center or its employees. I’ll let my life’s work and reputation speak for itself."

When asked if he was offered the chance to resign or retire, the 82-year-old said, "I've told you all I can tell you."

Dees' biography appeared scrubbed from the SPLC's website as news broke of his termination on Thursday afternoon. 

Morris Dees, SPLC funding and civil rights cases

A Montgomery native, Dees attended Sidney Lanier High School. He burnished his marketing chops by managing a direct sale book publishing company while attending the University of Alabama, where he also earned a law degree. 

After returning home to establish a law practice in 1960, Dees won a series of civil rights cases before establishing the SPLC with lawyer Joseph J. Levin Jr. and civil rights activist Julian Bond a decade later.

Southern Poverty Law Center President Emeritus Julian Bond, left, and founder Morris Dees at the SPLC's 40th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday April 30, 2011 at the Civil Rights Memorial Center in Montgomery, Ala.(Montgomery Advertiser, Mickey Welsh) (Photo: Montgomery Advertiser)

The legal partnership netted significant civil rights triumphs. Dees challenged systemic discrimination and segregation in Alabama state trooper ranks in a case won in the U.S. Supreme Court. SPLC litigation challenging Alabama's legislative districts forced the state to redraw its districts in the early 1970s, leading to the election of more than a dozen black legislators in 1974.

Morris Dees is a co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery.

Early SPLC lawsuits also fought for better conditions for cotton mill workers in Kentucky, women in the workplace and poor defendants on death row. The organization bankrupted a Ku Klux Klan Organization, the United Klans of America, in a 1987 civil case. 

Dees has been a fixture in politics since the group's ascension, though his organization has faced scrutiny in the past.

A 1994 Montgomery Advertiser series provided a deep look into the organization controlled by the multimillionaire Dees, illustrating his near-singular control over the organization and its mammoth budget.

The series, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, revealed a figure seen as heroic by some and single-minded by others. Dees' critics said he was more concerned with fundraising than litigating. 

The series also alleged discriminatory treatment of black employees within the advocacy group, despite its outward efforts to improve the treatment of minorities in the country. Staffers at the time “accused Morris Dees, the center’s driving force, of being a racist and black employees have ‘felt threatened and banded together.’” The organization denied the accusations raised in the series.

"I would hope the IRS and the Justice Department would take this as [an] opportunity to come in and take a close look at The Center, it's finances and it's day-to-day operations," said Jim Tharpe, managing editor of the Advertiser in the mid-1990s, who oversaw the Advertiser series. "It's long overdue."

Dees' central role in the organization has also led to numerous threats against him, and the Advertiser previously reported that he has 24-hour protection at his home.

SPLC a war chest of funds that dwarfs over NAACP and Equal Justice Initiative

Over the years, the SPLC has continued to amass massive funds from donors amid differing levels of scrutiny. The nonprofit has hundreds of employees and offices in four states. The organization had nearly $450 million in net assets, according to publicly available tax documents filed for 2017.

That figure easily dwarfs other civil rights groups — such as the Equal Justice Initiative and the NAACP — during the same time frame. The Montgomery-based EJI had about $57 million in net assets at that time and the NAACP had about $3.8 million.

SPLC still fell behind other groups, like the American Civil Liberties Union, which pulled in more than $526 million between its main nonprofit and foundation in 2017 filings, with several local groups collecting additional millions of dollars not included in that figure.

In recent years, the organization has become nationally known and scrutinized for its Hatewatch work tracking the rise of hate groups, particularly white supremacists.

It produces research and advocacy work on a variety of topics, including payday lending, civil asset forfeiture and immigration rights. The SPLC also continues day-to-day civil rights litigation, including an ongoing lawsuit to address prison conditions in Alabama.

“The SPLC is deeply committed to having a workplace that reflects the values it espouses — truth, justice, equity and inclusion, and we believe the steps we have taken today reaffirm that commitment," Cohen said.

Brian Lyman contributed to this report.

Contact Montgomery Advertiser reporter Melissa Brown at 334-240-0132 or mabrown@gannett.com.

 

Oregon Will Vote On Ending Sanctuary State Status In November

The state of Oregon will vote for an initiative to eliminate the state’s sanctuary status for illegal immigrants in November after the petition passed the necessary signature requirement to get on the ballot earlier this week.

Initiative Petition 22 needed slightly over 88,000 votes to qualify for the ballot and it reached that benchmark. The voters will now decide if they want to keep or eliminate the 31-year old mandate.

We’ve completed verification on IP 2018-022 with a 95.3% validity rate and it has qualified to appear on the November 6, 2018 ballot. IP 22’s ballot title is “Repeals law limiting use of state/local law enforcement resources to enforce federal immigration laws.”

— Oregon Elections (@oregonelections) July 17, 2018

The ballot title of the petition is “[Repealing the] law limiting use of state/local law enforcement resources to enforce federal immigration laws.”

“Across the state, hundreds of grassroots Oregonians worked to gather the signatures of tens of thousands of voters,” said Cynthia Kendoll, president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform, to the Statesman Journal. “All are eager to end Oregon’s sanctuary policy and see their state do its part to combat, not promote, illegal immigration.”

The three state representatives that have pushed this initiative are Mike Norman, Sal Esquivel and Greg Barreto.

Oregon Anti-Sanctuary Initiative Qualifies for Nov Ballot

An anti-sanctuary state initiative in Oregon qualified for November’s ballot on Tuesday, according to the state’s Secretary of State’s office, which announced that Initiative Petition 22 (“Repeals law limiting use of state/local law enforcement resources to enforce federal immigration laws”) surpassed the the 88,184 signature threshold needed to make the ballot.

According to the Salem Statesman Journal, “the initiative aims to remove a 31-year-old statute prohibiting Oregon law enforcement agencies from arresting individuals whose only crime is violating federal immigration law.”

Oregonians for Immigration Reform, which recently organized Oregonians to defeat a measure that would have allowed illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, reportedly said it was “confident” that Oregonians will “choose to repeal the state’s dangerous sanctuary law.”

“Across the state, hundreds of grassroots Oregonians worked to gather the signatures of tens of thousands of voters,” Cynthia Kendoll, the group’s president, said in a statement. ”All are eager to end Oregon’s sanctuary policy and see their state do its part to combat, not promote, illegal immigration.”

We've completed verification on IP 2018-022 with a 95.3% validity rate and it has qualified to appear on the November 6, 2018 ballot. IP 22's ballot title is "Repeals law limiting use of state/local law enforcement resources to enforce federal immigration laws."

— Oregon Elections (@oregonelections) July 17, 2018

Anti-sanctuary state initiative qualifies for November ballot

Voters will decide the future of Oregon's long-standing sanctuary state status in November after an initiative challenging the law qualified for the ballot Tuesday, according to the Secretary of State's office.
 
The Secretary of State certified that Initiative Petition 22 had 97,762 valid signatures — 86 percent of the signatures submitted and more than the 88,184 required to qualify for the general election.
 
The initiative aims to remove a 31-year-old statute prohibiting Oregon law enforcement agencies from arresting individuals whose only crime is violating federal immigration law. 
 
"Across the state, hundreds of grassroots Oregonians worked to gather the signatures of tens of thousands of voters," said Cynthia Kendoll, president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform. "All are eager to end Oregon's sanctuary policy and see their state do its part to combat, not promote, illegal immigration."...
 
OFIR was previously successful in helping orchestrate the defeat of Measure 88, a referendum that would have allowed undocumented immigrants to secure driver's cards. The state Legislature had passed the law, but Oregon voters rejected it by a margin of 2 to 1.
 
The Southern Poverty Law Center designates Oregonians for Immigration Reform as an anti-immigrant hate group with ties to white supremacists. ...
 

 

Learn more about the widely discredited Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC):

The SPLC File - An Exclusive Report on the Southern Poverty Law Center, The Social Contract, June 7, 2018.

Anti-sanctuary status measure makes Oregon ballot

Oregonians will have the chance to vote to repeal the state’s sanctuary laws in this fall’s election.
 
The Oregon Secretary of State’s elections division tweeted Tuesday afternoon that Initiative Petition 22, or IP 22, qualified to appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.
 
It was introduced by three Republican state lawmakers who want to repeal a 1987 law that essentially says state and local resources can’t be used to enforce federal immigration laws if the person’s only crime is being in the United States illegally. The anti-sanctuary group, Oregonians For Immigration Reform, gained enough signatures to put it on the ballot.
 
Jim Ludwick, one of its members, says the current statute protects criminals.
 
"When you set up a policy that rewards people for not reporting other criminals, you only encourage more criminality," said Ludwick. "Why would anybody want a person living in their community who is afraid to turn in another criminal?"
 
This same group convinced voters to reject a measure in 2014 that would've issued driver's licenses without asking someone's citizenship status.

Oregon anti-sanctuary initiative qualifies for November ballot

An Oregon anti-sanctuary initiative has qualified for the November ballot, raising the real possibility that one of the nation’s bluest states could become the first to repeal sanctuary status for immigrants who crossed the border illegally.
 
The Oregon Secretary of State’s office announced Tuesday that Initiative Petition 22 had cleared the signature threshold, registering a 95.3 percent validity rate on the 111,000 signatures submitted less than two weeks ago.
 
Organizers with Stop Oregon Sanctuaries needed 88,184 valid signatures to earn a slot on the ballot....
 
The high-profile coalition lined up against IP 22 in Oregon includes business organizations, labor unions and advocacy groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, which are expected to unleash a fundraising juggernaut to defeat the proposal.
 
Organizers point to their landslide 2014 ballot victory with Measure 88, which repealed the state Legislature’s bill allowing driver cards for immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally, even though the repeal campaign was outspent 11 to 1....

 

Measure To Repeal Oregon's Sanctuary Law Makes November Ballot

... State elections officials announced Tuesday that Initiative Petition 22, the “Stop Oregon Sanctuaries” campaign, has more than enough valid signatures to make November’s ballot. If approved by voters, the measure would scrap state laws that largely prevent state and local police officers from enforcing federal immigration law.

“Voters seldom get an opportunity to vote on immigration issues,” said Cynthia Kendoll, president of the group Oregonians for Immigration Reform, the measure’s primary backer. “We should get to decide do we want to repeal this or not. My guess, and our polling shows, yes we want to repeal that.”
 
The measure will face a fight. Last week, a coalition calling itself Oregonians United Against Profiling launched a campaign to oppose the proposal, with backing from major political players such as Nike and Columbia Sportswear, along with dozens of other businesses, organizations and officials....
 
The ballot measure has roots in the heated rhetoric of the Trump administration, which has lambasted sanctuary policies like Oregon’s. Last September, Attorney General Jeff Sessions paid a visit to Portland, telling an audience of federal law enforcement officials that sanctuary laws help protect “pedophiles, rapists, murderers, drug dealers, and arsonists.”
 
That focus from Trump and his cabinet “gave us the backup that this is truly something that people are concerned about,” Kendoll told OPB last year....
 
Oregonians for Immigration Reform is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which calls it “the most prominent anti-immigrant group in the state.” Kendoll says the label is politically motivated. 
 
IP 22 was sponsored by three Republican state representatives: Greg Barreto of Cove, Mike Nearman of Independence, and Sal Esquivel of Medford. According to the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office, more than 95 percent of the 111,039 signatures submitted were valid — an extremely high proportion compared to most campaigns....
 

 

Learn more about the widely discredited Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC):

The SPLC File - An Exclusive Report on the Southern Poverty Law Center, The Social Contract, June 7, 2018.

Sanctuary state repeal initiative makes November ballot

A ballot measure to repeal Oregon's sanctuary state status will go before voters in November, the Secretary of State's office confirmed Tuesday.
 
Initiative Petition 22 garnered 97,762 valid signatures, safely above the 88,184 needed to qualify for the Nov. 6 election.
 
If passed, the ballot measure would undo a 1987 law that prohibits the use of state and local law enforcement resources to enforce federal immigration standard.
 
Groups in support of Initiative Petition 22, such as Oregonians for Immigration Reform and Stop Oregon Sanctuaries, helped gather and submit 111,039 signatures by the July 6 deadline. The Federation for American Immigration Reform, a national organization, also backed the campaign.
 
Both Oregonians for Immigration Reform and the Federation for American Immigration Reform are listed as anti-immigrant hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center....
 

 

Learn more about the widely discredited Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC):

The SPLC File - An Exclusive Report on the Southern Poverty Law Center, The Social Contract, June 7, 2018.

 

Proposed repeal of Oregon 'sanctuary' law qualifies for November ballot

An effort to repeal Oregon’s “sanctuary” law has qualified for the Nov. 6 ballot, the state Elections Division announced Tuesday.
 
Initiative Petition 22 ended up with easily enough valid signatures to go to voters, thanks to an 86.2 percent verification rate. That rate meant the measure cleared the required threshold of 88,184 valid signatures by roughly 7,500 signatures.
 
That tees up a divisive fight over immigration in Oregon in coming months and a potential test case for so-called “sanctuary” laws around the country. Those laws prohibit local and state law enforcement agencies from assisting federal immigration agents and are on the books primarily in liberal cities and counties around the country.
 
The laws drew little public attention for years but were thrust into the limelight during the 2016 presidential campaign and are often criticized by the Trump administration as abetting illegal immigration.
 
Oregon, which enacted the first statewide sanctuary law in 1987, likely will be the only state voting on the issue this year, after a repeal effort in California failed to qualify for the ballot....

Repeal Oregon's sanctuary-law committee earns place on 2018 ballot

Today, after more than a week of required signature review by the Oregon Secretary of State's Elections officials, the committee learned that the initiative has earned a place on the Nov. 2018 Geneal Election ballot.

Over a week ago, the Repeal Oregon's Sanctuary Law Committee announced it had submitted to the Oregon Secretary of State enough signatures to potentially qualify Initiative Petition 22 as a measure on the November 2018 statewide ballot.

"Today was another hurdle to clear in the culmination of a year-long, volunteer effort. Across the state, hundreds of grassroots Oregonians worked to gather the signatures of tens of thousands of voters.  All are eager to end Oregon's sanctuary policy and see their state do its part to combat, not promote, illegal immigration by freeing our police and sheriffs to cooperate fully with Federal immigration authorities to enforce U.S. immigration law," said Cynthia Kendoll, authorized agent of the repeal committee and president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform, which spearheaded the signature-gathering effort.

Oregonians for Immigration Reform, founded in 2000, engages representatives at all levels of government for policies that would end illegal immigration and return legal immigration to our traditional levels of 230,000 per year. In 2014, the group spearheaded a Citizen's Veto Referendum - Measure 88 and, with a 66% NO vote, overturned the state law that would have given state issued photo ID in the form of driver cards to illegal aliens in Oregon.

Read more at Stop Oregon Sanctuaries.

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