Author Archive

Matthew Vadum

Veteran journalist Matthew Vadum edits Organization Trends and Foundation Watch. He previously worked in the Washington bureau of The Bond Buyer newspaper. While a reporter for the Central Penn Business Journal in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, he won an award for outstanding legal journalism from the Pennsylvania Bar Association for an article that focused on employment law. He holds an M.A. in American Studies from Georgetown University. An expert on the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), Vadum's book, "Subversion Inc.: How Obama's ACORN Red Shirts are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers," was published by WND Books in May 2011.

Briefly Noted: March 2014

Lois Lerner, the former head of the IRS’s tax-exempt division, orchestrated a crackdown on Tea Party and conservative groups and then attempted to scapegoat those nonprofits during the 2010 and 2012 election cycles, blaming them for the harsh treatment they received at her instigation, according to an official report released last month by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “Many questions remain, including the identities of others at the IRS and elsewhere who may have known about key events and decisions she undertook,” the report stated. “Americans, and particularly those Americans who faced mistreatment at the hands of the IRS, deserve the full documented truth that both Lois Lerner and the IRS have withheld from them.” President Obama has said that there was not even “a smidgen of corruption” in the IRS affair.

After Federal Communications Commission member Ajit Pai revealed that the Obama administration was planning to do a study and “send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run,” People for the American Way’s “Right Wing Watch” blog shrugged off civil libertarians’ concerns about the disturbing plan. On Feb. 20, PfAW blogger Kyle Mantyla tried to spin the story by claiming that the FCC was “not going to be stationing agents in local news stations all over the country in order to monitor their reporting, as the Right has been frantically proclaiming.” But after a fierce backlash, the very next day an FCC spokeswoman said the agency was withdrawing the plan after its chairman determined “that survey questions in the study directed toward media outlet managers, news directors, and reporters overstepped the bounds of what is required.” She added, “Any subsequent market studies conducted by the FCC, if determined necessary, will not seek participation from or include questions for media owners, news directors or reporters.”

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Briefly Noted: March 2014

Conservative grassroots groups FreedomWorks, Club for Growth Action Fund, Senate Conservatives Fund, and the Tea Party Patriots, raised $20 million last year, according to news reports. “This is by far the biggest nonelection year we’ve ever had,” said Matt Hoskins, executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund. “It shows how committed people are to electing true conservatives and to advancing conservative principles.” The three groups run by GOP consultant Karl RoveAmerican Crossroads (super PAC), Crossroads GPS, Conservative Victory Project (super PAC) — took in a combined $6.1 million in 2013. In the 2012 election cycle, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS together raised $325 million.

Republicans are fighting back against proposed new IRS rules that they say would make formal the tax agency’s infamous crackdown on Tea Party groups that oppose the Obama agenda, stripping them of their free speech rights during election cycles. The new rules, first unveiled around Thanksgiving when no one was paying attention, would prevent so-called 501(c)(4) social welfare/advocacy groups from participating in certain kinds of political activity. Such nonprofit organizations would be prevented from communicating with voters about candidates or political parties within 60 days of a general election. “Every American needs to know about this abuse of power,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) said in a recent speech on the Senate floor. Although new IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said he did not participate in drafting the rules, he has refused demands to block their implementation. Senate Democrats such as Mark Begich (Alaska) and Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.) are demanding that the IRS crack down further on right-leaning nonprofits like Americans for Prosperity.

Some groups on the left don’t support the proposed IRS regulations. The American Civil Liberties Union said that “[s]ocial welfare organizations praise or criticize candidates for public office on the issues and they should be able to do so freely, without fear of losing or being denied tax-exempt status, even if doing so could influence a citizen’s vote.” Such advocacy is “the heart of our representative democracy” and if social welfare groups influence voting, they do so only by “promoting an informed citizenry.”

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Philanthropy Notes: March 2014

Activists marching in North Carolina last month were asked to bring valid photo identification in order to participate in an NAACP-hosted protest against voter ID laws in Raleigh. Although the NAACP and other left-of-center groups argue that voter ID laws are racist and discriminate against poor and minority voters, the ID the NAACP was insisting upon was exactly the kind of ID that they would be required to present at a polling place.

As Hillary Clinton seems to be gearing up for a 2016 presidential run, Bill Clinton’s presidential foundation is clamping down on public access to papers from Mr. Clinton’s term as Arkansas governor, Washington Free Beacon reports. The former president donated his gubernatorial papers to the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) in 2003, and they are located at the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies in Little Rock. But the foundation, which owns the papers, is now denying all public access requests. “The documents could provide new insight into the early chapter of the Clintons’ political careers, as reporters take a second look at Hillary Clinton’s past in light of the information contained in the public materials of the Diane Blair collection. Hillary Clinton played a key role in her husband’s health care and education initiatives during his time as governor, from 1979 to 1981 and 1983 to 1992.”

Kriss Deiglmeier has become the San Francisco-based Tides network’s fourth CEO in four years, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports. She replaces Gary Schwartz, the interim president of Tides who will return to his previous post as senior vice president at Tides. Deiglmeier comes to the extreme-left philanthropic network after serving as executive director of Stanford University’s Center for Social Innovation. She refused to disclose her salary but her predecessor in 2012 earned $634,434 in total compensation from Tides Foundation and Tides Center, according to publicly available tax filings. Tides founder Drummond Pike left the network in 2010.

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Building a Radical Foundation: The Glaser Progress Foundation makes no bones about its focus on far-left activism

Building a Radical Foundation:  The Glaser Progress Foundation makes no bones about its focus on far-left activism

By Matthew Vadum, Foundation Watch, March 2014 (PDF here)

Summary:  Although the Glaser Progress Foundation was made possible by the great wealth its benefactor garnered from a mere decade’s work at Microsoft, it aims to change the country radically.  To that end, it works with left-wing agitators at such groups as the Democracy Alliance, Media Matters for America, and Demos.

Often when wealthy left-wingers endow an eponymous foundation, they fade into the woodwork, preferring to let their money do the talking. Not so with software magnate Rob Glaser, a well-connected high-dollar Democratic donor best known for founding RealNetworks, a prominent Internet company. Glaser has been a supporter of Barack Obama since Obama’s 2004 U.S. Senate run, according to DiscoverTheNetworks. In 2010, Glaser and his wife hosted a $10,000-a-plate lunch event with President Obama at their Seattle home, the same year Glaser attended a White House forum on technology and government.

Glaser had previously donated $50,000 to Obama’s 2009 inauguration fund. But Glaser did still more in the 2008 electoral cycle; he also helped Al Franken (D) procure his Minnesota U.S. Senate seat by first “maxing out” to the candidate with $4,600 for his regular campaign, and then contributing $12,300 after the election to the Franken Recount Fund. During the bitter recount battle for this Senate seat, Franken’s team used means so outrageous that the Wall Street Journal declared that Franken’s opponent, Norm Coleman “didn’t lose the election. He lost the fight to stop the state canvassing board from changing the vote-counting rules after the fact.”

In the 2004 electoral cycle, Glaser reportedly gave more than $1 million to defeat George W. Bush. So it’s no surprise that Glaser is an ally of George Soros, who poured tens of millions of dollars into the fight against Bush in 2004. Nor is it surprising that Glaser is also a leading member of Soros’s Democracy Alliance, an invitation-only donors’ collaborative for rich left-wingers. Created in the aftermath of the 2004 elections, which brought stinging defeats to the Left in battles for the White House, Senate, and House of Representatives, the Alliance is a financial clearinghouse for those who want to move America farther to the left.

Clinton administration official Rob Stein founded the Democracy Alliance with the aim of creating a permanent political infrastructure of nonprofits, think tanks, media outlets, leadership schools, and activist groups—a kind of “vast left-wing conspiracy” to battle the conservative movement. The donors group has channeled its members’ funds to fairly well-established pressure groups, watchdogs and think tanks, get-out-the-vote operations, and political action committees (PACs). It is intensely secretive. Members of the group meet twice a year to decide which causes to support with their checkbooks. (For more on the Alliance, see Foundation Watch, December 2008.)

Other ways that Glaser battled for the Left in the 2004 electoral cycle include his early support of America Coming Together (ACT), a large, ambitious Democratic get-out-the-vote operation created to affect the 2004 elections. Glaser donated $750,000 to ACT and talked his friends into donating as well. ACT folded in 2005 with little to show for the millions of dollars it raised and spent—with the exception of a $775,000 fine from the Federal Election Commission for illegally using unregulated “soft money” to support John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign.

In the previous presidential election of 2000, Glaser donated both to Ralph Nader’s Green Party campaign and also, less generously, to Al Gore’s campaign on the Democratic ticket.

Early Years
When Glaser studied at Yale, graduating in 1983, his politics were “slightly to the left of Che Guevara,” according to Bruce Jacobsen, a former RealNetworks executive who knew Glaser at the Ivy League school. Glaser once considered becoming a labor organizer, but instead he became a multi-millionaire thanks to his decade at Microsoft, where he worked on the Windows operating system and the word-processing program MS Word.

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Briefly Noted: February 2014

Radical Bill de Blasio, New York City’s newly sworn in 109th mayor, owes his political existence to Bertha Lewis, former chief organizer of ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). Lewis played a “critical behind-the-scenes” role in de Blasio’s primary campaign, according to reports. New York ACORN’s successor group, New York Communities for Change (NYCC), endorsed de Blasio early last year. NYCC field director Harold Miller, a Lewis protégé, helped run the mayor’s field operation. Lewis stood behind de Blasio during his primary night victory address. De Blasio recognized the role that NYCC played in his campaign, tweeting, “Thanks to nychange members for coming out tonight!” Lewis gloated, “We’re baacccck. The right wing will have to deal with it.” Lewis is also a co-founder of the ACORN-affiliated Working Families Party and the ACORN spinoff group, the Black Institute.

The fact that in 2016 America’s largest metropolis as well as the critical battleground state of Virginia will be under the control of longtime Clinton loyalists is bound to assist the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. De Blasio was campaign manager for Mrs. Clinton’s successful U.S. Senate bid in New York State in 2000. Former Democratic National Committee chief and fundraiser extraordinaire Terry McAuliffe, a longtime Clinton crony, was sworn in as Virginia’s 72nd governor on Jan. 11.

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Philanthropy Notes: February 2014

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg topped the list of high-dollar philanthropists in the U.S. in 2013, the Financial Times of London reports. Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, gave $990 million worth of Facebook stock in December to the San Mateo, Calif.-based Silicon Valley Community Foundation. This left-of-center philanthropy says, “Our leadership is rooted in our strong point of view on social equality as well as our collaborative relationships with the nonprofit groups and institutions advancing the best ideas.”

The pseudo-volunteers at the always-controversial federal program known as “AmeriCorps” (which pays “volunteers” who work for nonprofits) now face penalties under Obamacare. The reason? Because the health plans the Obama administration provides for AmeriCorps members don’t meet the legal requirements of the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. the Obamacare statute). On the up side, this embarrassment has been educational for AmeriCorps youth, because it has helped them better understand the nature of government. Take 24-year-old AmeriCorps member Abby Grosslein, who is pictured in a New York Times article on this problem posing under her BarackObama.com “FORWARD!” poster. “It would be nice if the government waived the penalty because we are a federally funded program,” said Grosslein, who is completing her third year of service with AmeriCorps. “It’s as if the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing.”

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Briefly Noted: January 2014

Newly minted Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) became the latest lawmaker to join in on the newest left-wing protest craze.  Booker fasted for 24 hours to show his support for comprehensive immigration reform after visiting Fast for Families pro-amnesty fasters.  Fast for Families is a front group put together by various groups including Center for American Progress, Advancement Project, Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, Center for Community Change, and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).  One of the more high profile fasters, Eliseo Medina, a Marxist who quit as SEIU executive vice president in October, is on the record as supporting an amnesty because he believes it will generate millions of new voters for Democratic candidates.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), stung by harsh criticism of his fiscal 2014 budget deal that does away with cost controls, denounced grassroots conservative groups for, in his words, “misleading their followers” about the last-minute fiscal package.  Boehner said “outside groups” were “using our members and … the American people for their own goals.”  Tea Party Patriots of Woodstock, Georgia, shot back, saying, “The last time we checked, we are the American people.”  Boehner has “declared war on the Tea Party” with his “smug and pretentious rant” against certain right-of-center organizations, the group added.  Founded in 2009, it describes itself as “dedicated to holding tax-and-spend politicians accountable for creating America’s fiscal crisis.”
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Philanthropy Notes: January 2014

President Obama’s nominee to run the Internal Revenue Service told senators that if he is confirmed he will probe the failure of nonprofit groups to disclose fully the circumstances of multimillion-dollar losses that result from financial wrongdoing.  John Koskinen cited a Washington Post report that identified over 1,000 nonprofits that disclosed “significant diversions” of their assets in tax filings in recent years; often, the groups failed to report the precise amount or critical details.  Such reports “provide important insights into areas that may have gone unnoticed or have been overlooked,” he said.  Koskinen served as a director and chairman of the executive committee of the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation from 2008-2012 and was non-executive chairman of Freddie Mac from 2008 to 2011, and president of the U.S. Soccer Foundation from 2004 to 2008.

The Nathan Cummings Foundation has decided to focus its grantmaking almost exclusively on reducing income inequality and combating climate change, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports.  The foundation’s board approved the new approach to giving at the behest of leftist CEO Simon Greer.  “In the next 20 years, the United States will go through a huge transformation in demographics, the environment, our economy, and in religion,” Greer says.  “Can we get people to agree on what we know to be true and then create the future of America?” asked the political extremist who used to work as a community organizer.  The foundation was profiled in last month’s Foundation Watch.

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Briefly Noted December 2013

Left-wing ACORN wannabe groups may soon get their hands on as much as $4 billion after the Obama administration strong-armed JP Morgan into coughing up $13 billion to make up for alleged deficiencies in mortgage securities the bank sold. If JP Morgan fails to burn through the full $4 billion by the end of 2016, left-wing pressure groups are likely to receive the cash.

The undercover videographer who helped to kill ACORN is now turning his powerful lens on Obamacare “navigators,” showing how left-wing groups break the law and defraud taxpayers. The undercover investigators of Project Veritas, the nonprofit created by ACORN slayer James O’Keefe III, are going after the almost 50,000 Obamacare “navigators” to whom the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is paying more than $67 million for enrolling uninsured persons in Obamacare exchanges.

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Philanthropy Notes: December 2013

Foundation endowments are finally bouncing back to pre-recession levels, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports. The 236 charities, private foundations, and universities with a fiscal year-end of June 30 surveyed by the newspaper experienced “an overall median investment return of 6.5 percent in 2012.” This is a dramatic increase over the 1.7 percent growth rate reported in mid-2011.

Can you say golden parachute? Former presidents of many elite private colleges and universities are still drawing hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation from the school years after leaving their posts, the Boston Globe reports. For example, Jehuda Reinharz, who left Brandeis University in 2010, has received at least $1.2 million from the school since leaving. Reinharz, who now runs the Mandel Foundation in Cleveland, takes in wages as president emeritus and a half-time faculty member. “We’re seeing more and more of these farewell packages to presidents,” said Andrew Gillen, a senior education researcher at the American Institutes for Research. “It’s symbolic of the growth of the cost of college,” he rationalized. Former leaders from Harvard, Tufts, and Northeastern, also reap lucrative rewards from sabbaticals, part-time professorships, lump-sum severance payments, and generous retirement benefits, the paper reports.

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