News

Politics & Policy

SPLC Taps Lawyer Who Interfered in Smollett Case to Investigate Workplace-Harassment Allegations

Tina Tchen, former chief of staff to first lady Michelle Obama, at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., in 2014. (Jonathan Ernst/REUTERS)

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has hired Tina Tchen, a former Obama staffer who recently tried to intervene in the Jussie Smollett hate-crime-hoax case on the actor’s behalf, to conduct a review of workplace-harassment allegations in the wake of co-founder Morris Dees’s firing.

Last Thursday, the SPLC announced Dees’s dismissal for unspecified violations of company policy and said that Tchen, who served as chief of staff to Michelle Obama and now runs a firm focused on “workplace cultural compliance,” would conduct a “comprehensive assessment of our internal climate and workplace practices.”

That announcement came one day after the Chicago Sun Times obtained communications between Tchen and Cook County state’s attorney Kim Foxx in which Tchen asked Foxx to persuade Chicago Police Department superintendent Eddie Johnson to turn the investigation of Smollett’s case over to the FBI.

Tchen reportedly made the request, which Johnson refused to comply with, at the behest of one of Smollett’s relatives.

In an email sent just two days after Smollett falsely claimed he was jumped by a pair of Trump-supporting bigots, Foxx reached out to Tchen to let her know that she had contacted Johnson, as the Obama alumnus had previously requested.

“Spoke to Superintendent Johnson. I convinced him to reach out to FBI to ask that they take over the investigation,” Foxx wrote.

“OMG this would be a huge victory,” Tchen wrote in response to a text message from Foxx containing the same information as was included in the email.

“I make no guarantees,” Foxx responded, “but I’m trying.”

Fraternal Order of Police president Kevin Graham sent a letter to the Department of Justice on Friday calling for an investigation into Tchen’s interference in the Smollett case and Foxx’s complicity in same.

“Private attorneys are not allowed to interfere with ongoing police investigations, particularly at the request of private individuals associated with subjects being investigated by the police,” Graham wrote in a letter sent Friday to John R. Lausch, the U.S. attorney in Chicago, obtained by CWBChicago.

Smollett pled not guilty last week to 16 counts of filing a false police report. He is out on $100,000 bail.

The exact cause of Dees’s firing remains unclear but it is likely related to some form of harassment given the statement issued by the SPLC, which refers to a violation of the group’s values. In the wake of Dees’s firing, a former staffer seemed to confirm that the organization is in need of reform, describing the culture in a New Yorker exposé as rife with sexual harassment, as well as gender-based and racial discrimination.

The former staffer, Bob Moser, also accuses Dees and other senior staffers of abandoning the organization’s roots in favor of running “a highly profitable scam.” The group, which got its start bankrupting Ku Klux Klan chapters, has in recent years taken to labeling ordinary conservative groups “hate groups” and tarring moderate reformers as bigots.

The SPLC did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Elizabeth Warren Is Not Honest

If you want to run for office, political consultants will hammer away at one point: Tell stories. People respond to stories. We’ve been a story-telling species since our fur-clad ancestors gathered around campfires. Don’t cite statistics. No one can remember statistics. Make it human. Make it relatable. ... Read More
National Review

Farewell

Today is my last day at National Review. It's an incredibly bittersweet moment. While I've only worked full-time since May, 2015, I've contributed posts and pieces for over fifteen years. NR was the first national platform to publish my work, and now -- thousands of posts and more than a million words later -- I ... Read More
Economy & Business

Andrew Yang, Snake Oil Salesman

Andrew Yang, the tech entrepreneur and gadfly, has definitely cleared the bar for a successful cause candidate. Not only has he exceeded expectations for his polling and fundraising, not only has he developed a cult following, not only has he got people talking about his signature idea, the universal basic ... Read More
Culture

Feminists Have Turned on Pornography

Since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, the feminist movement has sought to condemn traditional sexual ethics as repressive, misogynistic, and intolerant. As the 2010s come to a close, it might be fair to say that mainstream culture has reached the logical endpoint of this philosophy. Whereas older Americans ... Read More
White House

The Impeachment Defense That Doesn’t Work

If we’ve learned anything from the last couple of weeks, it’s that the “perfect phone call” defense of Trump and Ukraine doesn’t work. As Andy and I discussed on his podcast this week, the “perfect” defense allows the Democrats to score easy points by establishing that people in the administration ... Read More
Elections

Democrats Think They Can Win without You

A  few days ago, Ericka Anderson, an old friend of National Review, popped up in the pages of the New York Times lamenting that “the Democratic presidential field neglects abundant pools of potential Democrat converts, leaving persuadable audiences — like independents and Trump-averse, anti-abortion ... Read More