The following article is sponsored by NCPPR.
A startling new investigation has revealed that Amazon provides charitable funding to the controversial and hyper-liberal Southern Poverty Law Center through the AmazonSmile customer giving program. Yet Amazon lets the SPLC act as a gatekeeper for the program, which means SPLC denies Amazon customers the ability to give to politically conservative organizations. As a result, organizations that promote conservative ideas are cut off from funds, while Amazon allows donations to a variety of liberal organizations that include Planned Parenthood, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, and the SPLC itself, which is the 33rd largest recipient of AmazonSmile contributions. A watchdog organization has placed an initiative on Amazon’s annual shareholder vote and is running a public petition campaign designed to end the injustice of SPLC both controlling and benefiting from the AmazonSmile program. They have placed an online petition for public signature here, with petitions sent immediately to Amazon’s Board of Directors.
The National Center for Public Policy Research reviewed AmazonSmile’s last filed 990 form, which is a disclosure document required of all charitable organizations. In fiscal 2018, AmazonSmile delivered some $44 million to nonprofits, by allowing customers to earmark ½ of 1% of their purchases to these groups. This makes them one of the largest grantors of such funds in America. Since 2017, however, AmazonSmile has appointed the SPLC to control access to these funds through their propagandist “hate list,” which they have acknowledged is intended to be used to inflict economic discrimination and censorship on organizations they put on the list. It is part of the SPLC’s broader effort to stigmatize and eliminate mainstream conservative thought.
In 2016, SPLC agreed to apologize and pay nearly $3.4 million to British political activist Maajid Nawaz after they named him to their “hate list” as an “anti-Muslim” extremist, a characterization that defied common sense and was described by even liberal media as “baffling and difficult to defend.” But controversy is nothing new to the modern SPLC, which has, according to many outside observers, sacrificed its credibility in an endless cash grab from wealthy politically partisan donors. Author Laird Wilcox described the SPLC’s fundraising efforts as a “disinformation campaign.” The Montgomery Advertiser, where SPLC is headquartered, interviewed former staff attorneys, including one who said of SPLC, “It plays on a mentality unconnected with reality… It’s a scheme. It’s a joke.”
Of course, the most significant stories about the SPLC in the last couple of years have been the firing of its founder and president for allegations of sexism and racism that were never disclosed, and it’s curious and alarming finances. SPLC dismissed Morris Dees and Richard Cohen and then hired Obama administration regular Tina Tchen, who promised a transparent investigation and report but delivered nothing.
And concerning their finances, the SPLC sits atop a $592 million endowment, of which over $160 million is maintained in offshore accounts, with no explanation and no oversight of how these funds are held or used. One public way they’ve used their funds does not inspire confidence in their stewardship of donations: their ostentatious and massive headquarters in Montgomery, long dubbed the “Poverty Palace,” for the way their own enrichment has come at the expense of those the SPLC claims to assist. The SPLC has resisted all calls, including from Congress, for an explanation of why so much money is held outside the accountability of U.S. law, even as the offshore holdings continue to grow.
All of this makes more surprising Amazon’s willingness to outsource control of access to their AmazonSmile program to SPLC, and it has raised new opposition for this year’s shareholder season. The National Center for Public Policy Research, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting free markets, has advanced a shareholder proposal for this year’s Amazon ballot on May 27th that would compel Amazon to account for the costs of being attached to the partisan SPLC.
They have also created a public online petition demanding that Amazon end their association with the Southern Poverty Law Center. Every time it is submitted, Jeff Bezos and other Amazon board members receive a copy by email. Amazon customers, prime members, shareholders, and others are invited to send the petition to Amazon by clicking here.
According to Justin Danhof, who is leading the effort for NCPPR, “Given AmazonSmile’s size as one of the largest providers of charitable funds in America and its promise that customers can give to the charity of their choice, there is no excuse for Amazon to outsource eligibility determinations to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a controversial and discredited organization that is harming Amazon’s reputation and shareholder value. We will continue to hold Amazon accountable until they end this tainted alliance.”
To date, Amazon has rejected all calls to disclose its reasons for the SPLC partnership and alliance. They will not comment on why they allow SPLC to both control access to the AmazonSmile program and simultaneously benefit from it themselves.
The NCPPR petition for Amazon customers to register their disapproval of the Amazon SPLC relationship is available by clicking here.