Jerry Boykin wasn’t thrilled to see the Southern Poverty Law Center working with Amazon or Twitter, but he’s far more alarmed about the left-leaning group’s partnership with the FBI.
“I think the FBI is making a terrible mistake by doing this, given the track record of the Southern Poverty Law Center,” said Mr. Boykin, a retired lieutenant general and former deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence, who now serves as executive vice president of the Family Research Council.
“That is more proof of a deep state,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, it delegitimizes so much of what the FBI does.”
Mr. Boykin added that he thought the FBI had dropped the SPLC as a resource, and certainly that was the widespread assumption among political conservatives, until a few days ago.
The FBI-SPLC link reignited alarm after Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida Republican, fired off a letter last week asking FBI congressional liaison Jill C. Tyson about an email in which he said the bureau acknowledged a working relationship with the SPLC.
“In email correspondence, the FBI has admitted to working with the SPLC,” said Mr. Gaetz in the July 23 letter obtained by Fox News host Tucker Carlson. “This is surprising and worrisome, as the SPLC is known to use its platform in order to denigrate and disparage certain groups by labeling them ‘hate groups.’”
FBI spokeswoman Jacqueline Maguire neither confirmed nor denied the SPLC partnership, saying in a statement that the bureau has for years “engaged with various organizations” and “we welcome information from these organizations on any possible violations of civil rights, hate crimes, or other potential crimes or threats.”
“We do, however, evaluate our relationships with these groups as necessary to ensure the appropriateness of any interaction,” she said.
A Justice Department spokesperson told Fox that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had “directed the FBI to reevaluate their relationships with groups like this to ensure the FBI does not partner with any group that discriminates.”
In 2014, there were myriad reports that the FBI had finally dropped the SPLC as a hate-crimes resource, although there was also evidence to suggest that the bureau had only stopped identifying the group online.
As of Monday, however, the SPLC was still listed as a partner on the FBI’s Hate Crimes web page, along with organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League, the Human Rights Campaign, the NAACP, the National Center for Transgender Equity, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and the National Organization for Women.
“The FBI has forged partnerships nationally and locally with many civil rights organizations to establish rapport, share information, address concerns, and cooperate in solving problems,” said the bureau, which was followed by a listing of the groups.
While many of the partners listed have a progressive or liberal political slant, none would be considered conservative.
The Family Research Council is one of dozens of right-of-center organizations named on the SPLC’s “hate map” alongside racist groups like the Ku Klux Klan.
Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of the Ruth Institute, which has been dinged by the SPLC as an “anti-LGBT” hate group, said she worried about the center’s pull with the FBI.
“Of course I am concerned about anyone with any authority relying on the SPLC,” said Ms. Morse, whose group is dedicated to ending family breakdown. “The SPLC has no objective standards, no oversight, and no published procedures. As far as anyone can tell, they are accountable to no one. This means they can be completely arbitrary.”
The SPLC, which also advises tech giants like Amazon, Twitter and Google-owned YouTube on hate speech, did not return immediately a request for comment.