Philanthropy Notes: July 2012

Hungry for new tax revenues to shore up America’s welfare state programs, the Left hopes Congress will strip religious institutions of the tax exemption they currently enjoy. The federal government foregoes up to $71 billion in revenue each year by its stubborn insistence on adhering to the Establishment Clause and honoring a nearly complete tax exemption for churches, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports. That sum was generated by Ryan Cragun, a sociology professor at the University of Tampa, who added up the so-called “cost” of religious organizations’ exemption from taxes on donations, property, business enterprises, capital gains, and housing allowances for clergy. The study appeared in Free Inquiry, a magazine published by the Council for Secular Humanism.

Criminal justice expert Christopher Stone takes over the reins at George Soros’s Open Society Foundations this month. He replaces Aryeh Neier, who is retiring after serving as the mammoth philanthropic network’s president since 1993. Stone is a professor at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. “He has a passion for changing things and great vision and an understanding of how to build institutions and reimagine them so they endure,” said Barry C. Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project.

In other Soros news, Open Society Foundations announced that radical lawyer and former Obama administration official Kenneth H. Zimmerman will become the next overseer of the network’s U.S. operations. Zimmerman served as senior advisor to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, a longtime ACORN ally, and was also executive director for the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. Zimmerman replaces longtime Soros employee Diana L. Morris, who had filled the position on a temporary basis after Ann Beeson quit after four years. Beeson left to return to her home state of Texas, where she will reportedly “help develop a national plan to strengthen the role of arts and culture in advancing social change.”

Capital Research Center board of trustees member Edwin Meese III was presented with a Bradley Prize last month by the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. Meese was attorney general in the Reagan administration. This year’s other three awardees were Institute for Justice co-founder William H. “Chip” Mellor; political economist Nicholas Eberstadt; and Heritage Foundation co-founder Ed Feulner.


A New York jury has convicted former Goldman Sachs director Rajat Gupta on three counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy for sharing corporate secrets with hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam. Federal prosecutors previously said Gupta tipped off Galleon Group LLC co-founder Rajaratnam about Goldman’s earnings in the first quarter of 2007. Rajaratnam is now in prison serving an 11-year sentence after being convicted of other financial crimes last year.


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