Nobody saw this coming.
I believed that Morris Dees would be at the Southern Poverty Law Center for life. But something seems to have changed that.
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. When pressed for details on what led to the termination, the organization declined to elaborate.
"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."
The obvious question is what did Dees do? There are no clear answers, but there is room to speculate.
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.
That suggests a #MeToo situation. And that's what the gossip suggests.
"The SPLC fired Morris Dees yesterday and announced it today. Multiple sources have told me that the allegations of inappropriate conduct involve sexual harassment incidents. Multiple incidents that have come to light after an initial recent allegation."
I have been sent a number of internal SPLC emails that address the ongoing situation and specifically discuss Dees. Looks like a combination of complaints regarding sexual harassment and racial biases in promotion and hierarchy led to this.
The racism part would be quite ironic. And a good reason for the SPLC to keep things quiet. But it's not surprising coming from a klansman's lawyer.