June 24, 2018

Alliance Defending Freedom Spox: Amazon Has SPLC Decide Who Can Be in Its ‘Smile’ Charity Program

On Tucker Carlson’s Friday evening Fox News show, the host played a previously recorded interview with Alliance Defending Freedom spokesperson Kristen Waggoner. Waggoner detailed how e-commerce giant Amazon has allowed the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center to unilaterally manage and monitor its “Smile” program, which allows buyers to have a portion of their purchases go to charities they support. The SPLC recently kicked ADF out of Smile, and has falsely and slanderously claimed for years that ADF is a hate group.

Just last week, the Daily Caller reported:

(the SPLC) reached a settlement to anti-extremist organization Quilliam resulting in an apology and a $3.375-million payment for wrongly naming the group and its founder as anti-Muslim extremists.

Additionally:

In March and April, the SPLC has been forced to delete four separate articles accusing various individuals or organizations as having ties to hate groups after their accuracy was challenged.

The SPLC claims that ADF is a hate group because it “battles abortion, LGBT equality, and what it considers the ‘myth’ of the separation of church and state.” ADF zealously defends free speech and expression rights, and has argued and won cases before the Supreme Court. One of its most recent victories is the Court’s 7-2 ruling in favor of Masterpiece Cake Shop and its Colorado proprietor Jack Phillips, who refused to custom-design a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage ceremony on religious-conscience grounds.

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UPDATE, June 26: Because of that victory, in another case in which ADF is involved, ”The Supreme Court on Monday [June 26] vacated a Washington state ruling that found a florist violated the rights of a same-sex couple when she refused to sell flowers for their wedding ceremony and ordered a do-over.” (Whether the florist, Barronelle Stutzman, will ultimately prevail remains an open question.)

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Despite (or perhaps because) ADF’s widespread success and support, the SPLC has decided that the group cannot be one of “over one million eligible 501(c)(3) public charitable organizations” participating in the program.

Waggoner ran down the details of the situation with Carlson, In the process, she disclosed that Amazon has allowed SPLC to decide “who can participate in that program”:

Transcript:

TUCKER CARLSON: You participated in this program. What did you get from this, and why were you booted off?

KRISTINN WAGGONER: Well, the Amazon Smile program is a program that allows customers to have a portion of the proceeds of what they buy through Amazon to be given back to charitable organizations like Alliance Defending Freedom.

We participated in that program for a number of years. And all of a sudden, one of our donors said, “Hey, I was trying to buy something on Amazon, and they’re saying you’re ineligible and booted out of this program now.”

CARLSON: So you got no warning from Amazon that you were being thrown off?

WAGGONER: Absolutely not. We got no warning at all. And it’s really appalling to think that they would hide behind the Southern Poverty Law Center, which basically exists to banish credible, well-respected faith-based organizations with whom they disagree.

CARLSON: Oh absolutely. Right, and slander you as haters, which you are not.

What did Amazon say? Did they explain that you were a hate group in the eyes of the SPLC?

WAGGONER: Amazon said that it allows Southern Poverty Law Center to make the determination of who can participate in that program. And all the while, it’s allowing the SPLC itself to participate in the program and hunt down those that don’t agree with its leftist ideology.

CARLSON: That’s shocking. The SPLC of course is a scam. It’s a money-making operation run by charlatans that in the process of ripping off the public, slanders people as haters. Did you appeal in any way?

WAGGONER: We have. We asked — Immediately we asked Amazon to reconsider. We tried to appeal to its sense of civility, fairness, tolerance, and we’re hoping to meet with them, and that they’ll rescind their decision. There are common-sense solutions available, and it’s baffling as to why Amazon has chosen this route.

CARLSON: Did they say point-blank the Southern Poverty Law Center doesn’t like you, so that’s it? And why would Amazon, by some measures the biggest company in the world, turn over decision-making powers to the SPLC?

WAGGONER: Those are all good questions, and questions that we have asked and will continue to ask. What we know is that decisions like that undermine our pluralistic society. And frankly, we are a well-respected Supreme Court advocacy group. To punish us is actually to marginalize all the Americans that also want to have the right of free speech and free exercise of religion. We stand for everyone, even those which whom we disagree, and SPLC does not.

CARLSON: So there are also other implications. I mean, we’re in a very intense environment now where people are doing crazy things. There’s some risk of being associated to a Nazi, which is what they’re doing to you. Are you worried?

WAGGONER: Well, absolutely we’re worried. I mean, a building that we were in with the Family Research Council in 2012 was attacked by a would-be mass murderer who shot the security guard — and he said he was incited by SPLC. So there’s no question that we’re worried about this designation. And again, we need — we’re calling on Amazon to change its position and distance itself from this kind of hateful, inciting rhetoric.

CARLSON: Yeah, the irony is they’re the haters, of course.

Carlson’s characterization of SPLC as “a money-making operation” disguising itself as a not-for-profit has merit. In September, the Weekly Standard reported that it has a $320 million endowment fund, of which $69 million is in “offshore investments.” On Wednesday, the Washington Free Beacon updated that figure to “$92 million in offshore investment funds, according to financial statements.”

Although one could argue that Amazon is a private company and can do what it wants, its use of the hard-left, agenda-driven and fundamentally dishonest SPLC as its Smile program monitor automatically injects the company into the political discussion of free-speech and free-expression censorship, whether the company and its CEO Jeff Bezos likes it or not.

Despite the well-deserved setbacks described earlier and the organization’s mistreatment ADF at Amazon, it’s likely that most establishment press outlets will dishonestly continue to identify “hate groups” in line with SPLC’s dishonest designations.

Cross-posted, with possible revisions, at NewsBusters.org.

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