The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

SPLC Letter to Congressional Committee Sparks Controversy

By Mark Potok on April 2, 2009 - 12:02 pm, Posted in Anti-Immigrant

Shortly after the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing on immigration law enforcement got under way this morning, a letter from the civil rights groups Center for New Community and the Southern Poverty Law Center (publisher of this blog) was made a part of the official record. The letter, which objected to the committee’s invitation to nativist lawyer Kris Kobach to testify, has already sparked controversy, according to a Phoenix New Times blog report. Here is the text of the letter:

Dear Chairman Conyers:

It has come to our attention that Kris Kobach has been invited to participate as a panel witness for the Joint Hearing on the Local Enforcement of Immigration Laws scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday, April 2, in the Rayburn Building, Room 2141, in Washington D.C. We respectfully request that the committee reconsider the invitation.

While Mr. Kobach is listed as a law professor at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, School of Law, we believe members also should be aware that he is the senior counsel for the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). To date, FAIR and IRLI have paid Mr. Kobach $125,000 to serve as IRLI legal counsel.

FAIR is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which publishes annual listings of such organizations. Among the reasons are its acceptance of $1.2 million from the Pioneer Fund, a group founded to promote the genes of white colonials that funds studies of race, intelligence and genetics. FAIR has hired as key officials men who also joined white supremacist groups. It has board members who write regularly for hate publications. It promotes racist conspiracy theories about Latino immigrants. It has produced television programming featuring white nationalists. And John Tanton, the man who founded the group in 1979, has a long personal history of associating with white nationalists.  In a 1993 letter to Garret Hardin, a committed eugenicist who promoted pseudo-scientific ideas of racial purity, Tanton wrote candidly: “I’ve come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.”

In 2004, FAIR donated $10,000 to Kris Kobach’s congressional campaign in Kansas. When Mr. Kobach lost the race due in large part to his widely publicized ties to white nationalists, a supporter told a reporter, “It doesn’t help matters that Kobach was hired by FAIR, widely perceived as a racist anti-immigrant group during the campaign.” (Kansas City Star, June 8, 2004).

For all of these reasons, the Center for New Community and the Southern Poverty Law Center are deeply disappointed that the committee is seeking the testimony of Mr. Kobach, and urge that the invitation be rescinded.


Mark Potok
Southern Poverty Law Center

The Reverend David L. Ostendorf
Executive Director
Center for New Community

Editor’s note 4/09/09

Today, the Center for New Community (CNC) and the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers and his staff to correct two errors in their April 1 letter. The latest letter described the errors as follows:

In 2004, FAIR [Federation for American Immigration Reform] donated $10,000 to Kris Kobach’s congressional campaign in Kansas.

Correction: It was the U.S. Immigration Reform Political Action Committee (USIRPAC), not FAIR, that made a $10,000 donation to Kris Kobach’s congressional campaign in Kansas in 2004. Until several years ago, USIRPAC was named FAIRPAC. USIRPAC’s current treasurer, Bill (William) Chip, is a member of the board of advisors to FAIR, as is Edward H. Harte, who also serves on USIRPAC’s national advisory board.

“It doesn’t help matters that Kobach was hired by FAIR, widely perceived as a racist anti-immigrant group during the campaign.” (Kansas City Star, June 8, 2004).

The quote above was mistakenly attributed to the June 8, 2004 edition of the Kansas City Star. The quote should have instead been attributed to Kansas Republican leader Timothy Burger’s essay, “Why Kobach Lost.”

  • Ryan the non-Aryan

    Speaking of “Freedom of Speech”, that’s a one way street for all the wing-nutz out there. They think it applies only to them because of the colorless of their skin. If you were to go to any politically right extremists sites like VDare or Dan Stein et al, in there you tried to post a rational comment expressing your disagreement with its authors or its septic asanine bloggers. Chances are high that your comments will not get published. The irony behind all of this is the censorship they practice in their bloggerspheres is copious, it completely contradicts their argument in the broader platform, where they are screaming to be for(or fighting for) our “Freedom of Speech”, yet, they limit this in their own woodpiles. Sarah Palin was a great example in Alaska, where she tried to eliminate certain books at their local public libraries, and when the public outrage was expressed, she backed out.

    Their baseless hypocritical altercation regarding Freedom of Speech is just a poor excuse for a notion, that is not popular with the American people at large such as in the case of Sarah Palin. Such pro-white interests, vying for the glory days of pre-Brown vs. The Board of Education, Civil Rights etcs. The politics of yesterdays is what these white supremacists are really arguing for. The vast majority of Americans do not want to go back, instead we choose to move forward in the direction that “fits with the current times”. And that is how it will be.

  • Snorlax

    I see nothing wrong with the SPLC’s letter to Congress.

    This is not a free speech issue. You right wing racists can still spew your hate speech all over the Internet and on Lou Dobbs’ show, and even in here.

    This was an issue of credentials. This guy was tied to a notorious hate group and so he did not have the proper credentials to testify before Congress on this issue.

    Congress needs to hear from sensible, rational people on this issue. Not rabid right wing racists spewing hate.

    His comments should be stricken from the record.

  • Snorlax

    Why are a bunch of racist scumbags posting in here?

    I would delete all their posts immediately if I was running this blog.

    You racist scumbags are lucky you still live in a free country where you can spew your filth and garbage.

    Because if you ever get control, we won’t be living in a free America anymore. You’ll turn our great nation into a cheap sleazy brutal fascist dictatorship.

  • joe

    The SPLC couldn’t tell the real truth about illegal alien immigration if their damn life depended on it!

  • GENO


    As reported by my comrade-the Feathered Bastard. It looks like Al Sharpton is joining the ever growing forces raged against (Sheriff) Arcorrupto:


    The mighty Civil Rights leader demands that arpaio resigns, for his gross violations of Civil and Human Rights, not to forget that our U.S. Constitution was threatened by this rogue (Sheriff).

    Of course, the (Sheriff) will not pay heed to the words from the Civil Rights leader, unfornately, he will not resign by the deadline.

    The defiance displayed by the tyrannical demagogue, will have Al Sharpton coming to Phoenix to stage another massive opposition march against our “21st Century Bull Connor”. Al Sharpton’s support brings about enough warranted attention to our KKKorrupted geriatric. Rendering the Feds to reform (or perhaps a complete overhaul) the entire 287(g) program. Which has been proven to be saturated with flaws and gapes that results in ineffective immigration enforcement.

    A month ago we had Zach De La Rocha of “Rage Against The Machine” to rise above and hold a march aimed at critizing our top KKKonstable. Over 4,000 strong showed up in defiance of arpaio. It was a knuckle-dragging experience I will not forget.

    I most definately look forward to Al Sharpton’s arrival, in joining us in our fight to protect our U.S. Constitutional and Civil Rights. A march for Freedom…..

  • Linnea

    I see from the responses here that some people just can’t handle the truth…

    Good for the Law Center on this one. Thanks for continuing to tell the truth about FAIR and the nasty squirmies under this log. FAIR tries to promote itself as mainstream, but a little research shows them for what they really are.

  • Frederick Douglass

    Both the Conyers and Lofgren offices expressed thanks when toldthey each had been sucker-punched by the SPLC, Morris, Heidi, Mark et al
    and that shortly you can count on the SPLC raising money for themselves using you, Conyers and Lofgren.

  • William Gheen

    The Phoenix New Times is a pathetic and overt propaganda rag!

    The SPLC is now clearly on the record as standing against free speech in America and has illustrated a willingness to try and suppress free speech.

    The negative views of the SPLC will increase because of this because even Americans that might support the SPLC’s radical immigration agendas do NOT SUPPORT ATTACKS ON FREE SPEECH!

  • Ryan the non-Aryan

    “The Phoenix New Times is not a credible source.”

    I highly dispute that. For one-the Feathered Bastard was there in person that none of your favorite fringed wingers was able to get the up close and personal exclusive coverage than the F-Bastard. We do not see troglodytes GOP mouthpieces and scribblers like AnKKKarlo & E.J. Montini leaving the safe confines of their studios, conducting real investigative journalism as the Feathered Bastard.
    Number 2–camera do not lie. If you don’t believe what was said on the Bastard’s blog(which was recorded by all media outlets present), you will see the exact same coverage on CSPAN as well as the local mainstream medias, all of them!!
    Simply because you disagree with “the bird”, its easy for you to discredit him based on your love for corruptor arpaio and neo-Nazi connector Russell Pearce. That’s as easy for me to discredit AnKKKarlo and E.J. Montini since none of them leaves the studio to report the truth.

    And btw, when I referred to Russell Pearce’s neo-Nazi connections, both East Valley Trib and the Republic reported Pearce’s forwarding of emails sent to his supporters from a known neo-Nazi white supremacist hate group. Not to mentioned his close associations with former committeeman J.T. Ready. Google search it, if you need to. Obviously, you’re no “patriot” but a lesser WN.

  • Anchorage Activist

    The Phoenix New Times is not a credible source of information. Stephen Lemons, who blogs as the so-called “Feathered Bastard”, has relentlessly stalked distinguished patriots like Sheriff Joe Arpaio and State Senator Russell Pearce for years. The New Times is more suitable for litter boxes and birdcages.

  • Illinois Student

    Thank you, Mr. Gheen.

    The threshold that the SPLC has established, for what they classify as “hate” groups, has lowered itself to such a ridiculous level.

    Ironically, some of the same people who have worked with FAIR (such as famed civil rights leader and Congresswoman Barbara Jordan [D-TX]) have also worked with the SPLC!!

    Furthermore, the work of Garrett Hardin is required basic reading in political-science, environmental, and ecological classes, at universities throughout the United States.

    Experts from FAIR are regularly called to testify in front of the U.S. Congress, and the U.S. Department of Justice has cited FAIR as a reliable source as well.

    Prominent labor, political, and environmental leaders have been affiliated with FAIR, including womens’ rights leader Bonnie Erbe, former U.S. Senator Walter Huddleston (D-KY), former Colorado Governor Richard Lamm (D-CO), former Congressman Anthony Beilenson (D-CA), former Congressional Black Caucus Executive Director Dr. Frank Morris, Sr., Florida environmentalist leader Joyce Tarnow, and the late liberal, anti-war icon Eugene McCarthy (D-MN).

    It is scary that the SPLC has labeled an organization with such widespread mainstream credibility as a “hate group.” Interestingly, the basis for it doing so, in December 2007, was the Pioneer Fund contributions. However, the last time FAIR took any contributions for the Fund was 1994!! Why did it take the SPLC 15 years to make this characterization?

    Furthermore, those Pioneer Fund contributions were used for non-profit purposes (organizational self-management), and so many other institutions, including think tanks, hospitals, and universities, have also accepted large contributions from the Pioneer Fund. Here is a partial listing:

    Are all of these hospitals and universities and other organizations, in the U.S. and elsewhere, also “hate groups”?

    But the most frightening part of this is that the SPLC is using tactics to try to silence dissent, and points of view with which it disagrees.

    The recent Missouri scandal should be a tipping point, that motivates major organizations and activists to participate in a long-overdue rebuttal to these statist, anti-freedom tactics. I hope that principled organizations like the ACLU will join with us, to combat the false, misleading, and dangerous actions of the SPLC.

  • Keith

    What the SPLC tried to do to Kris Kobach prior to his congressional testimony was plain and simple sabotage! The effort to label his as a racist was the classic example of defamation. Unfortunately, we have sent this time and time again from the SPLC when they disagree with an individual’s political views. They SPLC stokes the fires of hate to line its own pockets with money. The SPLC should devote their attention to real hate groups instead of trying to discredit individuals who they disagree with.

  • William Gheen

    We will contact the members of this committee immediately to warn them that your attempts to silence the free speech of others should not be tolerated and that your claims are often defamatory and highly inaccurate portrayals of reality. The SPLC and the Phoenix publication are both unreliable sources.

  • GENO

    The hearings occured today(all day actually). Our very own–the Feathered Bastard has been reporting exstensively on the hearings. Unfortunately, the known white supremacist Mr. Kobach was still able to testify. Thanks to his WN admiring buddy–Congressman Trent Franks.
    The good news however, is that the notorious rabidly racist (Sheriff) arpaio was not welcome to testify. He was not invited. To do so would be a travesty. He would not last a mere 5 mins once confronted by the Congress. He just doesn’t have the proper temperment. The Feathered Bastard has explain why this is so, since the Phoenix New Times has long copious history of reporting on our top KKKonstable. New Times has many reports regarding arpaio’s tyrannical mismanagements.
    Congresswoman Lofregen held up the letter by SPLC, citing its recommendation that Kobach should not testify, due to his “extremist” and morbidly racist views on Hispanics(even Hispanics like that of Lou Dobbs wife), he was able to speak his omnious piece, whatever that is. But I could careless. However, once again Conyers held up the SPLC’s letter and admonished Kiobach by rubbing the letter to his face on the Senate floor, telling the suspected white supremacist, that if he did not like what the SPLC found on him and that he can–“sue the SPLC for all I care.” Conyers did praise the SPLC’s investigative intelligence collected on KKKobach’s WN ties. And he was not well respected and well liked on the Senate floor, despite his Republican *minority* backup like Trent Franks(who was the only one to defend KKKobach’s white supremacist connections).

    The insidiously racist (Sheriff) arpaio is the poster boy for the misuse and abuse of the 287(g) program, designed to thwart criminal aliens, yet it was misused to instill fear, intimidation and racial profiling of Hispanics(like that of Lou Dobbs wife). If FAIR is all about “reform”(hence their moniker) then reforming the 287(g) program is necessary to ensure that our U.S. Constitution is upheld to its highest standards.

    I wanted to watch the Congressional Hearings but none of CPAN’s 3 channels was airing it, so I had to read the Feathered Bastard’s blog for updates.