Philanthropy Notes: December 2015

GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson is proposing eliminating all tax deductions, including those for charitable contributions and mortgage interest payments, as part of his flat income tax plan. He is the only Republican in the race to propose dropping the charitable deduction. Carson said charities have no reason to worry, because under his plan Americans will have more money to spend and will be more inclined to give. “The fact of the matter is people had homes before 1913 when we introduced the federal income tax,” he said. “We had churches before that, and charitable organizations before that.” The Alliance for Charitable Reform and other nonprofit trade associations oppose abolishing the charitable deduction.

So much for Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” motto: The company’s philanthropic arm is giving $2.35 million to race-baiting community organizers, including $500,000 to help the Black Lives Matter movement. Presumably, the money is intended as community outreach: critics say only 2 percent of Google’s workforce is black. The extreme-left Ella Baker Center for Human Rights of Oakland, Calif., co-founded by self-described “communist” and former Obama administration official Van Jones, is to receive $1 million from, half of which will go to co-founder Patrisse Cullors, to help develop software to report police violence. Cullors is known for her rants about so-called white supremacy and her conspiracy theories in which the U.S. is carrying out genocide against African-Americans.

The U.S. Department of Justice has been secretly shaking down CitiGroup and Bank of America, extracting $150 million for left-wing “housing counseling agencies.” In June the House passed a measure offered by House Judiciary Committee Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) to block the bogus unfair lending settlement that will direct funding to community organizers at groups like La Raza and NeighborWorks, according to Dustin Howard of Americans for Limited Government.

President Obama’s IRS is still holding hostage applications for nonprofit status from conservative and Tea Party groups, even though the IRS targeting scandal first made national headlines years ago. Two of the groups discriminated against unjustly are the Albuquerque Tea Party, which started seeking tax-exempt status six years ago, and Ohio-based Unite in Action, whose quest for that status began three years ago. Both groups are part of a 38-group class-action lawsuit against the government. Congressional investigators determined that under disgraced executive Lois Lerner, IRS officials illegally subjected right-leaning 501(c)(4) nonprofit advocacy organizations to intrusive scrutiny and wildly inappropriate processing times during the 2010 and 2012 election cycles. These misdeeds helped Obama secure a second term, because groups opposing him weren’t able to organize while their tax-exempt status hung in limbo, according to Robert Knight of the American Civil Rights Union. “What Lois Lerner did moves us that much closer to being an authoritarian third world-type country, where might makes right,” Knight said after Assistant Attorney General Peter J. Kadzik recently shrugged off the Lerner-led conspiracy as mere bureaucratic incompetence.


As presidential primary season is upon us, now is a good time to review the political campaign contributions of Goldman Sachs, the most powerful investment bank in the world.

Criticism of the bank from conservatives tends to focus on its outsized influence in the lawmaking and regulatory processes and on its “crony capitalist” approach to business that maximizes its profits while curtailing free markets and expanding government. And yet the Left paints an almost-cartoonish picture of Goldman Sachs, as if it epitomizes free markets in action.

One left-wing journalist in 2010 called it “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money” and as a “great American bubble machine” that “has engineered every major market manipulation since the Great Depression.” Although this critique may be rhetorically excessive, it contains at least a grain of truth.

Goldman received billions of dollars in federal bailout money in 2008 and 2009, thanks to its political connections in Washington. The bank has a revolving-door approach to hiring that allows government officials to work there when their party is out of power. According to the Center for Responsive Politics (, 38 of its 40 federal lobbyists used to work in government. Goldman’s political giving leans Democratic (CEO Lloyd Blankfein is a self-identified Democrat), but it also keeps a foot in the door with Republicans. For its impressive profitability to continue, it cannot afford to be on the losing side in elections or to alienate either major political party.

Goldman’s philanthropy leans left. The Goldman Sachs Philanthropy Fund gives to a multitude of institutions of higher education, and in the U.S. those institutions are almost exclusively left-wing. The Fund gives to a handful of causes that do not appear to have a political ideology, but the recipients of its largest grants are firmly on the political Left.

Some of the more notable left-wing grant recipients from the Goldman Sachs Philanthropy Fund are Detroit-based Focus: HOPE ($3.3 million since 2003); Planned Parenthood ($2.7 million since 2003); U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops ($1.5 million since 2009); and the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation ($74,000 since 2009).

In the 2014 election cycle, Goldman Sachs, its employees, and its political action committee gave $4.8 million in campaign contributions (to candidates, parties, leadership PACs, 527 committees, and outside spending groups) and spent $7 million on lobbying, according to CRP. Top recipients included National Republican Senatorial Committee ($479,000; $449,000 of it from individual employees); League of Conservation Voters ($285,000; zero from individual employees); Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ($185,000; $155,000 from individual employees); NextGen Climate Action ($100,000; zero from individual employees); and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) ($97,000; $87,000 from individual employees).

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