Family Institute Dropped by Payment Processing Company After SPLC 'Hate Group' Designation

Morse: It's convenient for the SPLC to 'stand me up next to a guy with a swastika and a white hood'

Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center / Getty Images
September 8, 2017

An institute that works to "end family breakdown" lost its payment processing company after the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an Alabama-based liberal 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, had labeled the organization as a "hate group."

The SPLC fought the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s but is now best known for its "hate map," which features mainstream conservative groups alongside hate groups like the KKK. The group has turned into a fundraising powerhouse in recent years, hoarding more than $300 million in assets, with millions of that being pushed to offshore entities.

The Ruth Institute, which describes itself as an organization dedicated to "creating a mass social movement to end family breakdown," recently lost its payment processing company for donations after being labeled as a "hate group" by the SPLC.

The institute received a message from Vanco, the group's payment processing provider, in late August saying they were "flagged" as promoting "hate, violence, harassment, and or/or abuse."

"Vanco has elected to discontinue our processing relationship with The Ruth Institute," the message from Vanco to the institute reads. "The organization has been flagged by Card Brands as being affiliated with a product/service that promotes hate, violence, harassment and/or abuse. Merchants that display such attributes are against Vanco and Wells Fargo processing policies."

Dr. Jennifer Morse, founder of the Ruth Institute, told the Washington Free Beacon in a phone interview that after she had received the message from Vanco, she immediately checked her website and found that the donations feature was already disabled.

"We received an email from them at two-o-clock in the afternoon on Thursday, the 31st of August. We went and checked our website and it was already shut down—our donation feature was already shut down. So they obviously shut it down then sent us a notice," said Morse. "It's just rude, you don't treat people like that."

"It's interesting that Venco will not come out and say Wells Fargo kicked us in the shins and told us to do this, they won't say that, but that's kind of the inference you're led to draw based on our the first communication we got with them and the complete shut down after that," Morse continued.

Morse says the corporate left will continue its practices, but one positive that came from the ordeal is she can talk about the mission of her institute.

"The corporate left is out there doing what they do and I can't stop them—they're going to do what they do with their power," she said. "I'm grateful that this incident has given me an opportunity to talk about the mission of the Ruth Institute because nobody else is doing what we're doing. We believe that family breakdown is harmful to children. We believe it's unjust to children, and that children have a right to have a relationship with both of their parents and to know their identity."

Morse added that it's "convenient" for the SPLC to add conservative groups alongside the KKK because it allows people to dismiss her and others.

"I think it's convenient strategically and rhetorically for groups like the SPLC to stand me up next to a guy with a swastika and white hood, because then nobody has to listen to what I have to say," she said. "Rather than argue with me—or, you know, try to say 'gee you're wrong'—rather than have that conversation about why kids need their parents, they just dismiss the whole thing by putting me and Tony Perkins (president of the Family Research Council) in a lineup with guys in white hoods and then they don't have to deal with it."

A gunman walked into the Washington, D.C., office of the conservative Family Research Council and opened fire in 2012 after seeing the group listed as a "hate group" on the SPLC's website.

"Honest journalism needs to stop taking these people seriously," said Morse.

The SPLC, which is often cited by mainstream media outlets, raised millions from the likes of Apple, J.P Morgan Chase, and George Clooney following the tragic events in Charlottesville, Va.

The Washington Free Beacon discovered the SPLC's foreign tax forms from 2014 last week showing the group transfers millions in cash to offshore entities in the Cayman Islands and also has "financial interests" in Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands. The Weekly Standard's Jeryl Bier found this week that the SPLC has $69 million of "non-U.S. equity funds" from the group's 2016 annual report.

The SPLC has been hit with a number of "hate" defamation lawsuits in recent weeks. Dozens of conservative leaders have also pleaded with the media to stop citing the SPLC.

The group additionally released a map of every confederate monument in the U.S. that contains middle schools, PJ Media reported.

Vanco did not return a request for comment on its decision to drop the Ruth Institute by press time.

Published under: SPLC