The Bauman Family Foundation: Funding community organizers for a progressive paradise
By Jonathan M. Hanen, Foundation Watch, December 2014 [PDF here]
Summary: The Bauman Family Foundation is not well known, but it and its head, Patricia Bauman, are significant leaders of the American Left. The real estate heiress donates to liberal politicians and holds powerful positions with far-left flagship institutions like the Democracy Alliance, the Brennan Center, and Catalist. Her foundation supports “social justice” by fighting to redistribute wealth, stop voter ID laws, deny workers the secret ballot in union elections, and otherwise achieve the Left’s goal of fundamentally transforming America’s constitutional order.
Little is known about Lionel R. Bauman, the New York lawyer and real estate investor who founded the progressive philanthropy known as the Bauman Family Foundation (BFF), now headquartered in Washington, D.C. According to the foundation’s website, Bauman was born into a family of immigrants in 1911, grew up during the Great Depression, and earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania, followed by a law degree from Columbia. According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, on Sept. 13, 1963, Bauman was “elected national president of the American Friends of the Hebrew University by the board of directors of the organization.” The BFF website claims Bauman was a “proud New Yorker” and that “throughout his lifetime, he maintained a passionate commitment to social justice and civil rights and liberties, shared with his wife, Sylvia Dlugasch Bauman, who predeceased him in 1975.” He established the foundation “in the early 1980s.”
The foundation’s website states that, “recognizing that his family had earlier been well provided for, Mr. Bauman bequested [sic] his entire Estate to the Foundation upon his death in 1987.” Although the website provides no documents written by Lionel Bauman regarding his donor intent, the foundation appears to be adhering to its late benefactor’s wishes. There is only the testimony of his daughter Patricia Bauman, the foundation’s second president, who says, “He believed in philanthropy not just for services or for bricks and mortar, but also for advocacy for progressive social change.” The website claims “He was deeply engaged in education and in bringing the arts to disadvantaged children, among his other philanthropies” and that “during his lifetime, Lionel Bauman was a generous supporter of education, the arts and progressive social justice.”
“Progressive social change,” “social justice,” and “economic democracy” are vague terms that are rarely defined by commentators on the far left. In practice, when the demand for social justice comes from the leadership of a left-wing nonprofit, it is typically a shibboleth for the attempt to use the power of the regulatory state to supplant the traditional American notion of justice, which aims for the equality of all citizens before the law, with the social democratic ideal of justice which aims for equality of result.
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