The Greenlining Institute: Shakedown Artists

The weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal highlighted the growing menace of groups like California’s Greenlining Institute. Greenlining is a left-wing pressure group that threatens adverse public relations campaigns against lenders that refuse to bow to its agenda. The Journal editorial begins:

Readers who run a foundation, serve on a board or are thinking of starting such a charitable effort should know about the gauntlet of shakedown artists forming up to demand a piece of the action.

As with so many marginal ideas, this one is coming out of California. A proposed bill there would have required foundations with more than $250 million in assets to report the racial, gender and sexual orientation of their board members, staffs and grantees. The bill’s sponsors recently agreed to drop the issue in return for a political payoff of millions of dollars from 10 of the state’s biggest charities.

Greenlining led the push for the bill. Its incoming executive director, Orson Aguilar, said he expects foundations will cough up as much as $500 million in the next five years in order to placate his group. 

John Gizzi wrote about the bill, AB 624, in this month’s Foundation Watch and discussed it on the July 16th edition of “The Roger Hedgecock Show” (available as an MP3 file here). Gizzi’s profile of Greenlining will appear in the August edition of Organization Trends.

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