SPLC Action Fund




Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:





Lobbying Organization


Margaret Huang

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The SPLC Action Fund is a lobbying group affiliated with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a controversial left-of-center watchdog of allegedly extremist groups. It was created by SPLC in 2018 to provide “greater flexibility to engage in legislative battles at every level of government and to support critical ballot initiatives.” 1


The Southern Poverty Law Center, SPLC Action Fund’s charitable arm, is a longstanding controversial watchdog of extremist groups that has faced criticism for its classification of mainstream right-leaning organizations as “hate groups,”2 with Floyd Lee Corkins, a man who attacked the social-conservative Family Research Council, stating in his guilty plea agreement that he had singled out FRC due to SPLC having labeled it as such. 3

In 2018, SPLC announced that it had created the SPLC Action Fund in order to “engage in legislative battles at every level of government and to support critical ballot initiatives.” 4

Criticism of Republicans

In February 2020, when President Donald Trump was acquitted after an impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate, then-interim CEO Karen Baynes-Dunning called the acquittal “a disgraceful display of partisanship by members of the U.S. Senate who ignored insurmountable evidence and testimony that Donald Trump betrayed his oath of office and broke the law.” 5

Earlier that year, SPLC published leaked emails from Trump White House policy advisor Stephen Miller that showed he forwarded a reporter at Breitbart News emails and stories from the controversial website VDARE, which SPLC alleges publishes white supremacist views. SPLC Action Fund then called for Congressional Democrats to introduce a resolution calling for Miller’s resignation that was eventually co-sponsored by about 80 House members and 20 Senators. Baynes-Dunning called Miller “a bigot whose anti-immigrant vitriol has poisoned our national policy.” 6

In 2019, SPLC Action Fund criticized the passage by the Republican-controlled Florida legislature of a ban on “sanctuary cities” that do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities and joined unsuccessful efforts to repeal or block the ban. 7 It also criticized a Republican-backed bill to permit teachers to carry firearms in schools that was passed in the wake of the 2018 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. 8

Coronavirus Pandemic

In 2019, SPLC Action Fund joined other liberal groups, including the AFL-CIO, Public Citizen, and the Service Employees International Union, in opposing efforts to provide liability protection to businesses that re-open amid the fallout from COVID-19. These groups opposed guidelines proposed by the National Federation of Independent Business that would direct worker-related coronavirus claims to the workers’ compensation system and would limit tort liability for reopening business from customer claims unless plaintiffs can prove injury and that a business knowingly neglected to develop a reasonable plan for reducing exposure to coronavirus. 9

The group also joined a coalition including Amnesty International USA, Human Rights Watch, Immigrant Justice Campaign, and Black Alliance for Just Immigration that called on several state governors to pressure the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to close asylum-seeker detention camps in their states during the COVID-19 epidemic. The coalition argued that continued detention would cause coronavirus to spread among the detained population as well as local communities. 10

SPLC Action Fund was also among a number of groups calling for release of state prison inmates at risk of contracting COVID-19 during the outbreak,11 and sent a letter to Congressional leaders calling for “additional legislation to ensure that [Deep South] communities get the additional resources necessary to weather this pandemic.” 12


As of April 20, 2020 both SPLC and SPLC Action Fund are headed by Margaret Huang, formerly the executive director of Amnesty International USA. 13

Huang was chosen after a nationwide search sparked by the firing of SPLC co-founder and former chief trial counsel Morris Dees. In a statement issued after Dees’s firing, then-CEO Richard Cohen stated that Dees had failed to adhere to the SPLC’s “values.” Former employees contacted by the media after Dees’s firing “spoke of racial equity concerns in senior leadership, describing a disproportionate amount of people of color serving in entry-level administrative positions compared to the rest of the workforce. Two former employees said they were disconcerted by what they viewed as sluggish responses to high-profile cases of deadly police force in recent years, as well as prioritization of marketing and fundraising over civil rights work.” Cohen and SPLC legal director Rhonda Brownstein also resigned within days of Dees’s firing. 14


  1. “What is the SPLC Action Fund?” Southern Poverty Law Center. Accessed May 19, 2020.
  2. Schreckinger, Ben. “Has a Civil Rights Stalwart Lost Its Way?” Politico Magazine. July 2017. Accessed July 21, 2017.
  3. Ham, Mary Katharine . “FRC shooter: I targeted them because SPLC list said they were ‘anti-gay’.” Hot Air. April 24, 2013. Accessed July 21, 2017.
  4. “What is the SPLC Action Fund?” Southern Poverty Law Center. Accessed May 19, 2020.
  5. “SPLC Action Fund: “We have just witnessed a disgraceful display of partisanship.” SPLC Action Fund. Feb. 5, 2020. Accessed May 19, 2020.
  6. Sanjana Karanth. “Democrats Call For Stephen Miller’s Resignation In New Resolution.” HuffPost. Feb. 13, 2020. Accessed May 19, 2020.
  7. “South Miami To Challenge ‘Sanctuary Cities’ Ban.” CBS News Miami. July 10, 2019. Accessed May 19, 2020.
  8. “SPLC Action Fund: Florida bill seeking to arm teachers with guns jeopardizes school safety.” SPLC Action Fund. April 23, 2019. Accessed May 19, 2020.
  9. Andy Medici. “Worried about Covid-19 lawsuits? Battle lines form over whether businesses should be liable.” Business Journals. May 8, 2020. Accessed May 19, 2020.
  10. “More Than a Dozen Immigrant Rights Groups Focus Grassroots Attention on Governors, State Health Officials to Direct Release of Immigration Detainees to Protect Against COVID-19.” Human Rights First. May 15, 2020. Accessed May 19, 2020.
  11. “Stopping COVID-19 spread must include prison release.” Alabamians for Fair Justice. Montgomery Advertiser. April 29, 2020. Accessed May 19, 2020.
  12. “SPLC Action makes recommendations to Congress to address COVID-19 needs in the Deep South.” SPLC Action Fund. April 22, 2020. Accessed May 19, 2020.
  13. Bryan Lyman. “Margaret Huang to lead SPLC as new president and CEO.” Montgomery Advertiser. Feb. 3, 2020. Accessed May 19, 2020.
  14. Melissa Brown. “SPLC names interim president after leadership shake-up.” Montgomery Advertiser. April 2, 2019. Accessed May 19, 2020.

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Richard Cohen
    Former President and CEO
  2. Margaret Huang
    President and CEO
  3. James Rucker
    Board Member

Supported Movements

  1. Public Funds Public Schools
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: October - September
  • Tax Exemption Received: April 1, 2019

  • Available Filings

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    SPLC Action Fund

    MONTGOMERY, AL 36104-4344