Foundation Watch

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and the Ford Foundation’s Socialists

The “socialist” label should be used sparingly and saved for those that worked hard to earn it.

In an appearance a couple of weeks ago on the Strict Scrutiny podcast, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) was worrying over one of his favorite topics: the alleged lopsided advantage of right-leaning money in political and public policy debates. To accomplish this state of mind, he must frequently overlook vast piles of left-leaning cash stacking up all around him.

Ford Leans Left

During his visit with the Strict Scrutiny hosts, Whitehouse tried to paint over the work of one of the nation’s biggest lefty-money powerhouses. Speaking of the Ford Foundation, he said it was an “amazingly well-established public interest foundation that doesn’t seem to have much in the way of a political motive or purpose.”

There are literally billions of things wrong with this (they are called “dollars”) and too much to address in a single blog post.

But a very conservative estimate, based on a review of the charitable recordkeeping website Foundation Search, shows Ford Foundation grants an average of well over $100 million per year to dozens of causes that clearly favor Democratic politicians or left-leaning public policy outcomes.

Grassroots Socialism

For example (and this is where the socialism comes in), one grantee is the Grassroots Policy Project. Since 2016, the Ford Foundation has sent five grants totaling more than $3.4 million to this organization in Berkeley, California.

The grant descriptions Ford provided on its IRS forms were vague enough to keep Sen. Whitehouse guessing as to how the bucks were being spent. A $600,000 grant in 2018 was for “General support and project support for institutional strengthening.”

The Grassroots Policy Project was much clearer on its website about what it does with the bucks. One recent policy report promotes both Medicare-for-All and the Green New Deal, ideas so far to the radical left fringe that mainstream Democrats in Congress (and the White House) still aren’t on board.

But that was just the ideological appetizer. The same document includes this subject heading: “Leveraging government loans and bailout as openings for public control and ownership.”

So, to rewrite the Ford grant for precision: “General support for the proletariat to rise up and seize the means of production!”

Recent IRS filings show the Grassroots Policy Project averages well less than $1 million in annual revenue—less than $600,000 in 2016 and 2017. The Ford Foundation’s $3.4 million in support over the previous five years would seem to be the only reason this radical-left organization can exist at all.

That support shows something “in the way of a political motive or purpose” and about the Ford Foundation’s ideological priorities.

For much more on the Ford Foundation’s decades of politicized giving, consult its InfluenceWatch entry.

Ken Braun

Ken Braun is CRC’s senior investigative researcher and authors profiles for and the Capital Research magazine. He previously worked for several free market policy organizations, spent six…
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