A $6.5 million lawsuit filed in December by a lawyer and former member of a white nationalist group accuses the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center of abetting a theft, defamation, racketeering, and improper political campaigning. Those alleged actions, the lawsuit contends, should not only result in the SPLC forking over millions to the plaintiff, but should prompt authorities to revoke the non-profit's 501c3 tax exemption.
In an exclusive report on the suit, PJ Media's Tyler O'Neil provides some context for what he describes as the potentially "devastating" lawsuit, which was filed in December by a Baltimore lawyer who was once a member of a white nationalist group:
The SPLC targeted Glen Keith Allen over his former ties to the National Alliance (NA), a white nationalist group. In doing so, the liberal group allegedly violated laws and legal codes of conduct by receiving and then paying for stolen documents in violation of confidentiality agreements. The group went after Allen with the intent of getting him fired by the city of Baltimore and permanently destroying his future prospects.
Allen's suit claims that the SPLC should have its 501c3 tax-exempt status revoked, that it owes him restitution for racketeering, and that it should pay $6.5 million in damages. It also references Allen's pro bono work on behalf of African-Americans and his mentorship of an African-American teen, powerfully rebutting claims that he is a racist. Allen told PJ Media he now regrets his NA support, and an African-American friend of his laughed at the idea of this lawyer being branded a racist.
The lawsuit stems from an August 2016 article by SPLC Intelligence Project Director Heidi Beirich which described Allen as a "neo-Nazi lawyer" due to his former membership with the NA and suggested that his work for the Baltimore city solicitor involving a lawsuit filed by a black man who had been wrongly accused of murder was racially motivated and malicious. As part of his job with the solicitor, Beirich "filed one specific motion to help the city in a lawsuit filed by a black man who was wrongly accused of murder," O'Neil writes. "Beirich painted this work as malicious to African-Americans." Beirich's article prompted Baltimore's law department to immediately fire Allen, who had been hired just a few months earlier after leaving international law firm DLA Piper.
As part of the evidence for the article, Beirich publicized documents the suit says the SPLC obtained illegally, violating non-disclosure agreements and using an alleged "paid informant" to obtain them. The suit also accuses Beirich of smearing the American Eagle Party, which is described as racist and anti-Semitic in the article. It also accuses the SPLC of using its resources in a way that violates political campaigning restrictions for tax-exempt groups.
"The SPLC should also lose its tax-exempt status for mail and wire fraud, false statements on its tax forms, and campaigns of destruction and defamation against its perceived enemies, the lawsuit claims," O'Neil reports, noting that the suit "includes no fewer than nine counts against the defendants, so even if one or more fail, it would be very difficult for the SPLC to convince the court to dismiss the case."
Allen does not deny being a member of the white nationalist NA, which endorses racist and anti-Semitic ideologies, but says he's since renounced it. "My affiliation with the National Alliance was a mistake, one of the greatest of my life," Allen told PJ Media. "I would like to believe we live in a society where people can learn from their mistakes and move on."
O'Neil underscores that "Americans will rightly view" the National Alliance's ideas as "disgusting." "Even so, the rights of free association extend to all Americans, even those who wish to affiliate with such groups," he writes. "The law should protect NA's property and enforce its contracts."
The SPLC has been hit with a few significant lawsuits recently, including from Maajid Nawaz, whom the group labeled an "anti-Muslim extremist," along with Ayaan Hirsi Ali. In June, the group settled with Nawaz, paying $3.375 million to his Quilliam Foundation after admitting to smearing him. Dozens of other individuals and groups that have been similarly labeled as "extremist" by the SPLC are considering taking legal action.