Using your tax dollars against you
– Unless, that is, you are a far-left progressive activist. In which case, it’s still theft and the unrepresentative institutionalizing of a collectivist-agenda, but it’s the good kind. So.
Watchdog.org, “Tides uses tax dollars to turn America to the Left”:
At the center of Washington, D.C., politics, a powerful group of left-wing activists has leveraged big money, high-level White House access and tax-code loopholes to create a lobbying organization dressed up as an educational nonprofit with the benign name of a laundry detergent.
The Tides Foundation is a favorite charity of such big-name liberal donors as Teresa Heinz Kerry (ketchup up heiress and wife of Secretary of State John Kerry) and Barbra Streisand. The two have given Tides more than $8.5 million over the years.
And Tides has a lesser-known benefactor: You. From 2009 to 2011, the most recent years for which data is available, the government has given Tides some $28 million in grants paid for by American taxpayers.
[...] Every year, from Tides HQ, the organization pushes $300 million through a network of hundreds of left-wing groups.
Tides says it’s working to “promote and support emerging social change and educational programs.” In fact, its programs are a checklist of liberalism’s most ambitious agenda: the Open Society Institute of George Soros, AFL-CIO, the Iraq Peace Fund, the Arab American Action Network, American Civil Liberties Union, the pro-Castro groups United for Peace and Justice and Center for Constitutional Rights, along with groups opposing free trade and gun ownership while advocating green energy and government-funded abortion.
But significantly it’s become a meeting place of two potentially warring factions of the Left — labor and environmentalists.
All that cash brings political clout. A Watchdog.org investigation found that Tides officials logged 92 White House visits last year.
“Tides has access that some of the best Democratic lobbyists would envy,” said Ron Arnold, executive vice president for the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise. “Tides has been one of the most secretive Big Green groups since it was founded by Drummond Pike in 1976 and now has risen to such access and power. While claiming to be poor little Birkenstock-wearing greenie groups, in actuality they are exercising undue influence under false pretenses to change public policy.”
Operating as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization gives Tides many advantages. Its donors can remain anonymous while receiving a tax write-off; there is less oversight by the IRS; and Federal Election Commission reports are not required.
Many nonprofits, including the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, parent organization of Watchdog.org, do not list their donors on 990 tax returns. In keeping with its IRS nonprofit designation, Franklin’s mission is education-based. By contrast, Tides uses its massive budget to meet to with politicians and staffers at the highest level in the nation with one goal in mind: to shape legislation with a left-leaning agenda.
Perhaps Tides’ biggest coup was using its Apollo Alliance Project to help draft Obama’s massive stimulus bill. The final stimulus bill doled out billions of dollars to further the Left’s green-energy agenda and social justice constituency while preserving labor’s role in centralized economic planning.
One of the president’s top advisers is Tides project chairman Leo Gerard. When he’s not also working as president of the United Steel Workers Union and vice president of the AFL-CIO, Gerard serves on Obama’s National Commission on Energy Policy and on the president’s Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations. He also helped create Workers Uniting, an ambitious effort to create a global labor union. As co-chairman of Tides’ Apollo Alliance, he oversaw creation of the president’s massive, pro-labor stimulus bill.
More recently, in a kind of labor-green pact, Gerard helped engineer the merger of his labor movement with the BlueGreen Alliance, a group that has seen the value to organized labor in jobs associated with creation of a green-energy economy managed by Washington, D.C., planners.
The Internal Revenue Service has carved out a special place for nonprofit organizations that educate the public. In exchange for receiving that tax-exempt status, such nonprofits agree not to engage in lobbying. Specifically, the law reads, “no substantial part of the activities (shall be allowed) of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation.…”
“A 501(c)3 is supposed to be involved in educational purposes and not the election of candidates or to create legislation,” said Earl Glynn, a researcher for the Franklin Center’s Watchdog Labs. “Tides is bending its ‘education’ platform as far as they can,” Glynn said. “While technically not violating the law, at what point does education and issue advocacy become a way of electing candidates?”
Glynn spent weeks looking at the voluminous tax records of Tides and its supporters along with White House records. He said there’s ample evidence that Tides is involved not just in lobbying on the stimulus bill about which it bragged. He points to the group’s relationship with Catalist, a for-profit corporation that creates and maintains a voter database of 200 million Americans. Catalist sells that list to progressive clients who push voters to the polls in partisan elections.
One of those clients is Tides. The group’s 2011 tax return documents show Tides paid $505,000 to Catalist for “subsidizing the cost of services to 501(c)(3) charities.”
Translation: Tides paid Catalist to provide its voter lists to other nonprofits eager to influence the vote.
Catalist’s customers include the ACLU, AFL-CIO, Teamsters, NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation, the Latino activist organization National Council of LaRaza, the National Education Association, New Organizing Institute, and Planned Parenthood. Slate magazine called the Analyst Institute, another Catalist client, “a secret society of Democratic researchers” who worked on the Obama campaigns. When Slate called to interview Analyst officials about their political role, Analyst referred them to the Obama campaign.
“Catalist is all about mobilizing people to vote, and Tides is bringing to the table all their nonprofit friends,” Glynn said.
“The Tides conglomerate is an octopus with hundreds of incubating projects funded by untraceable wealthy foundations,” said Arnold, of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise. “Now it has promoted itself to a member of the federal government, particularly the White House.”
I’m going to sum this up with an analogy: this is the American version of the Red Chinese government’s practice of shooting a political prisoner, then billing the family for the bullet.
These systemic and institutionalized Marxist Trojan horse viruses inside the body politic can’t be rooted out without tearing the whole thing down, nuking it from orbit, and then rebuilding over the glassy remains once the fallout has cleared. I’m convinced of it now more than ever.
(h/t Jim Geraghty)