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Meet The Right Wing Charity Cartel

Cato Institute
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In the eyes of the right wing, charities are only worthwhile when they’re controlled by trustworthy stewards of conservative sacred cows for the sole purpose of amassing funds in order to wage war, oppress societies, gain access to oil, or support fundamentalist religious zealots. But when a liberal dares to fund charities, the right wing rises and puffs up, declaring the ruination of democracy and liberal efforts to overtake the world. Just ask Brian Leach, who writes:

The Tides Foundation’s central tenet is “healthy societies rely fundamentally on respect for human rights, the vitality of communities and a celebration of diversity.” Seems quite harmless at first glance but upon further inspection of this organization, the group’s motivation becomes quite clear: the promotion of radical leftist beliefs on the American public through any means possible.

Mr. Leach is scrupulous in his efforts to mention the Terrible Trigger for the right wing: ACORN. He uses that mention, along with Terrible Terms like “fundamentally transform” to make a case that the evil liberals are poised to turn our country into a bunch of lazy do-nothing charity-case socialists.

“Fundamentally transform” that is certainly a popular catchphrase with the Obama administration and we’re seeing these radical changes proposed and forced through Congress with little input from the public. All that has stood in the way of socialized medicine is an outpouring of opposition at August town hall meetings throughout the country.

Are you afraid yet? As usual, the tactic of the right is to make people afraid of that which is good or does good for people in a way that differs from the conservative approach, with the ultimate goal of influencing people to act against their own interests. Please remember this phrase. It’s important and will continue to be in the years to come.

Mr Leach concludes with this:

…the vast majority of Tides Foundation grants only go to politically motivated projects.

He also muses over how ‘interesting’ it would be to view a donor list. I have some news for Mr. Leach: It’s not all that difficult to figure out who donates to these organizations if you’re willing to do the work. Foundations don’t have to disclose donors. Individuals do not have to disclose donations to charities. But foundations and other charities do have to disclose their grants on an annual basis. If Mr Leach is interested, the information is out there.

Given Mr. Leach’s barely disguised disdain for a charity daring to fund politically motivated organizations, I decided to take a closer look at the Right Wing Charity Cartel (Scaife, Koch, Coors, and Olin) and the causes they fund.

Scaife Family Foundations (Carthage, Allegheny and Sarah Scaife Foundation)

  • 1959-1999 – $340,000,0001
  • 1985-2005 – $433,900,0002
  • 2006-2008 – $ 57,100,0003

Total: $831,000,000

Castle Rock Foundation (Coors Family)

  • 1995-2005 – $27,000,0004
  • 2006-2008 – $ 8,300,0005

Total: $35,300,000

Koch Family Foundations: Charles G. Koch, David H. Koch, Fred C and Mary R Koch, Lambe Family Foundations

  • 1986-2004 – $120,000,0006
  • 2005-2007 – $ 32,400,0007

Total: $152,400,000

John M. Olin Foundation, Inc

  • 1985-2004 – $316,692,1808
  • 2005-2007 – $ 23,000,0009

Total: $349,092,180

Grand Total: $1,367,792,180

That total, again, is One Billion, three hundred sixty seven Million, seven hundred ninety two Thousand, one hundred eighty dollars. 1.3 Billion and change.

What organizations were funded with such generous donations? The Koch funds established and continue to fund the Cato Institute and Americans for Prosperity, among many others. Scaife funds established the Heritage Foundation, fund the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, Citizens for a Sound Economy (now FreedomWorks), lately famous for the teaparty funding, stoking, and associated bus tour, the Hoover Institution, and various organizations created to skew newspapers, television and other media sources toward a conservative point of view. The Olin Foundation, along with other tobacco-funded charities, established and contributed to many of the same conservative organizations as the others.

In fact, all of the organizations I’ve listed here contributed to the organizations named in the tobacco strategy memo I wrote about last week. This time, they’re funding those organizations with a goal of defeating health care reform. Here’s a spreadsheet I’ve prepared (not yet complete, but close) with donor detail to those very same organizations who participated with Big Tobacco to bring down Bill Clinton‘s health care reform effort.

By comparison, even Mr. Leach acknowledges Tides Foundation contributes to organizations who actively assist people — that’s why he objects. He fears that helping them is a secret, subtle, insidious way to immerse people in that “radical leftist belief structure”. Beliefs like access to health care being a right rather than a privilege. Those radical beliefs. While the Tides Foundation does engage in public advocacy, the Advocacy Fund is less than 1/100th of the amounts donated by the Gang of Four. The balance of Tides’ giving appears to be going to actually assist people in need.

My message to Brian Leach and anyone else who dares to utter a whine about the Tides Foundation? Take the mote out of your own eye before trying to remove your brother’s, or anyone else’s.

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. – 1Cor 13:13 KJV

1 Washington Post
2 MediaTransparency.org (via Archive.org)
3 2006, 2007 and 2008 990 filings available on the Scaife Foundations website
4> 1995-2005 MediaTransparency.org via archive.org
5Castle Rock Foundation 990PF 2006-2008 available online
6 1986-2004 MediaTransparency.org – Aggregate Koch Family Foundation Contributions
7 2005-2007 Lambe 990PF, Chas. G 990PF, David H 990PF (not considered in total, since gifts directed toward medical research grants), Fred/Mary 990PF
8MediaTransparency.org Olin Foundation Aggregate Contributions (note: This foundation closed in 2005, still distributing remaining funds)
92005,2006,2007 990PF

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