Southern Poverty Law Center's Criteria for Naming 'Hate Groups' Subpoenaed
(CNSNews.com) -- A local official in Virginia has subpoenaed the Montgomery, Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the SPLC Task Force on Hate in the Public Sphere for the criteria it uses to designate other organizations as “hate groups.”
The subpoenas were filed February 28th in Loudoun County Circuit Court. They request "all written criteria, guidelines, bylaws or rules used by Southern Poverty Law Center to designate organizations or groups as 'hate groups' from the inception of the Southern Poverty Law Center to the present date." (See Delgaudio_Vs-SPLC_Inc-.pdf & Delgaudio Vs. SPLC Taskforce.pdf)
Leesburg, Va. attorney Charles King filed the subpoenas on behalf of four-term incumbent Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling), who is battling an effort to remove him from office under a rarely used Virginia law that allows elected officials to be ousted for “[a] neglect of duty, [b] misuse of office, or [c] incompetence in the performance of duties.”
The designation of Public Advocate of the United States, the conservative 501(c)(4)group Delgaudio runs, as a “hate group” by the SPLC was specifically cited in the complaint against him filed in court:
“The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) charged that Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio heads a gay-bashing ‘hate group’ called ‘Public Advocate’ and the charge is indisputable; Mr. Delgaudio has merged his function as an elected official of this County with his advocacy for this ‘hate group,’ Public Advocate.
“Accordingly, Mr. Delgaudio has neglected his duty to maintain this ‘hate group’ as a separate undertaking from his elected duties as a Supervisor, and thus misused his office in this regard, and recklessly exposed our Board to charges that we endorse intolerance toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons, fairly described as ‘gay bashing’ given Public Advocate’s declared agenda,” the complaint, which was filed on January 27, stated.
SPLC’s website says it “monitors hate groups and other extremists throughout the United States and exposes their activities to law enforcement agencies, the media and the public.” Public Advocate is listed on SPLC’s “hate map” as one of 26 groups designated as such in Virginia and is also listed in SPLC’s “Anti- LGBT” category.
"I'm asking for the file on Supervisor Delgaudio and Public Advocate because they've done this to a number of other conservative organizations," King told CNSNews.com. "He doesn't do anything other than advocate that people write or call their congressmen, using skits, petition drives, rallies and protests. This is all First Amendment stuff.”
Noting that nearly every news article mentioning Public Advocate refers to it as a “hate group,” King added: “My question is: What does that mean?
“This is not some guy in camo advocating the overthrow of the government in a compound in Iowa. He has views on traditional values and marriage. I want to know why that is hate. I want to know what the criteria is. What does it mean to be a hate group?”
King is requesting all research, electronic or written correspondence, witness testimony, and "all staff memorandums and writings of any kind," including minutes and videos of staff meetings, that were used by SPLC to come to the conclusion that Public Advocate is a "hate group."
"It's very different to call a pro-family group the same thing you'd call white supremacists or the [Ku Klux] KIan,” King added. “They've lowered the bar on hate."
CNSNews.com previously reported that the Department of Defense will continue to use SPLC as a training resource even after the Family Research Council (FRC) and other conservative organizations complained that it targeted them as “hate groups” because they defended traditional values on marriage and other moral issues.
“I’m officially on the fringe because I fight for God’s law,” Delgaudio told CNSNews.com. “It’s been established that it’s okay to persecute a public official simply because he believes in traditional values.”
According to the complaint, Donna Mateer, a former part-time employee on Delgaudio’s county staff, accused him of requiring her to spend more than 372 hours setting up fundraising appointments for him on county time, allegedly costing Loudoun taxpayers $7,082.25.
A special grand jury was convened on Feb. 5, 2013 to look into the allegations. But after a six-month investigation by a special prosecutor called in from another county and the testimony of 31 witnesses on allegations that Delgaudio “improperly used Loudoun County resources for personal gain,” the grand jury declined to indict him.
Instead, it issued a report stating that Public Advocate and [Delgaudio’s] campaign “created the potential for perceived malfeasance and unintentional cross-over between county business and the supervisor’s private activities.”
"The grand jury-issued report was not complimentary, but it disbanded without filing charges," King pointed out.
In a March 4 press release, King said that government phone logs show that Mateer spent just two and a half hours making 107 calls from a list Delgaudio had given her. "The preliminary data does not corroborate Ms. Mateer's allegation."
“None of the people called donated to either my campaign or Public Advocate,” Delgaudio later told CNSNews.com.
On July 17, 2013, “drawing principally upon the statement of Ms. Donna Mateer and the critical grand jury report,” Delgaudio was reprimanded by the all-Republican Board of Supervisors and stripped of his staff and budget. He was later reinstated to the board’s Land Use Committee.
Since Virginia does not have a recall process for elected officials, a removal petition against Delgaudio accusing him of neglect of duty and misuse of office was filed with the court on January 27th by a group calling itself Citizens of Sterling. Al Nevarez, listed in the court document as a member of the group's executive committee, unsuccessfully ran against Delgaudio as a Democrat in the 2011 Loudoun supervisors' race.
The first item on the petition cited the fact that SPLC “has declared that Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio heads a ‘hate group’ called Public Advocate of the United States, and has merged his function as an elected official of this County with his advocacy for this ‘hate group.” The petition was signed by 686 people, or 10 percent of registered voters who voted in the 2011 supervisors’ race.
Since Virginia law requires the automatic removal of a public official convicted of a felony, the removal petition is used for less serious misdemeanors. But King pointed out that Delgaudio was not convicted of a crime. “He wasn’t charged, he wasn’t indicted,” King said.
CNSNews.com called SPLC numerous times for comment, but our calls were not returned. A status hearing on the case is scheduled for March 25.