The Sunlight Foundation: Another left-wing pressure group with dubious claims to nonpartisanship
By Jesse Tyler, Foundation Watch, January 2015 (PDF)
Summary: The Sunlight Foundation is yet another nonprofit that preens itself on its political neutrality but turns out to have leaders and funding almost entirely from the left. “Transparency” is its battle cry, and it has an impressive array of projects underway. And yet it never seems troubled by groups on the left that revel in political intimidation, and its leaders have included the kind of “progressives” who find liberal Democrats too conservative.
Campaign donor transparency has been hailed by many on the Left as a panacea for what ails America. If only everyone’s political donations were made public on the Internet, all would be right, they theorize. But in seeking to make campaign finance data public, the goals of the Left—and in particular of the Washington, D.C.-based Sunlight Foundation—are less than pure.
The Left’s obsession with “transparency” is a one-way street. It isn’t so much about keeping the inner machinations of government transparent as it is about exposing private activities so private actors can be publicly exposed to political pressure. The idea is that, if conservatives take enough heat for giving to politically incorrect causes, they will stop doing so. This, leftists believe, will transform the political giving environment and at long last the power of the eeevil rich and corporate America to dominate politics will be broken.
Publicly naming and shaming conservatives for their philanthropy can be used in the social policy sphere at well. Proposition 8 in California is a case in point. It was a voter-approved referendum in 2008 that defined marriage in the California state constitution to be between one man and one woman. A series of websites sprung up that publicly exposed donors to pro-Prop 8 groups in an effort to encourage left-wing activists to wage a campaign of vilification and harassment against them.
One of the sites, AntiGayBlacklist.com, identified those who donated funds to the “yes” side. The very name of the site, blacklist, is proof of the malicious intentions of its founders. The site advised readers that “The following individuals or organizations (according to ElectionTrack.com) have donated money to the California Proposition 8 campaign which seeks to ban same sex marriages. Please do not patronize them. 8 = HATE. Thanks!” Certainly there were principled arguments on both sides of Prop 8 (which was eventually nullified by left-wing judges), but to crudely suggest that support for “8″ simply equals “HATE” is beyond the pale.
As Michelle Malkin reported in 2010:
“In California, gay-rights mau-mau-ers compiled blacklists and harassment lists of citizens who contributed to the Proposition 8 initiative in defense of traditional marriage. A Los Angeles restaurant whose manager made a small donation to the Prop. 8 campaign was besieged nightly by hordes of protesters who disrupted the business, intimidated patrons, and brought employees to tears. Terrified workers at El Coyote Mexican Cafe pooled together $500 to pay off the protesters. A theater director who donated $1,000 to Prop. 8 was forced to resign over the donation. Anonymous mischief-makers created ‘Eight Maps,’ a detailed directory of Prop. 8 donors using Google Maps to pinpoint their residences and businesses. Death threats enveloped with powdery substances and boycotts ensued. ‘When I see those maps,’ admitted California Voter Foundation president Kim Alexander, ‘it does leave me with a bit of a sick feeling in my stomach.’”
And as Capital Research Center’s Matthew Vadum has written:
“Left-wing activists call this kind of in-your-face harassment ‘accountability,’ an Orwellian euphemism to be sure. Accountability actions focus on harassing and intimidating political enemies, disrupting their activities, and forcing them to waste resources dealing with activists’ provocations. It is a tactic of radical community organizers, open borders fanatics, and union goons. Taking a cue from Marxist theorist Herbert Marcuse, they want to shut down, humiliate, and silence those who fail to genuflect before their policy agenda” (FrontPageMag.com, Dec. 4, 2014).
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