Fakery 2: More Funny Finances, Free Of Tax

Read time: 4 mins
Money falls from the sky, anonymously

Follow the money.  October 23, PBS Frontline's Climate of Doubt gave viewers an hour's coverage of the tactics of climate anti-science, its advocates and a quick look into the funding behind it. Read on to follow the money deeper into the funny finances, all free of tax.

Last February, Fake Science, Fakexperts, Funny Finances, Free Of Tax explored some of those issues in detail. More information has been unearthed since, especially on DONORS TRUST, which Robert Brulle discussed with Frontline. Charles Koch and others use DONORS TRUST to anonymize their funding of policy/advocacy groups.  The attached revision exposes more detail of the $311 million given through DONORS between 2002-2010, managed by Whitney Ball.

1. Heartland Institute's Fakeducation from fakexperts is now integrated (Appendix Y.3).

2. Heartland Financials (H.1)  is augmented with data from the February Heartland Exposed documents.  It was known that much of Heartland Institute's funding came via DONORS, and that there was one large donor, speculated by some to be reclusive Chicago businessman Barre Seid.  The combination of IRS Form 990s, February documents, and other information proves his identity, as the numbers simply do not work otherwise. (H.1.4-1).  More detail on donations (H.1.5) shows explicit funding of climate anti-science activities whose tax-free status seems dubious.

3. DONORS TRUST (and DONORS CAPITAL FUND)  have been studied in more detail.  Robert Brulle found another Charles Koch fund, Knowledge and Progress, which seems to give money only to DONORS.  Added to the others he controls (Charles Koch and Claude Lambe), money can flow through three separate funds. Then some of it goes through DONORS TRUST and DONORS CAPITAL FUND, which anonymize it, as Whitney Ball actually writes the checks. Some “Kochtopus” tentacles are difficult to see.

Some of this tax-advantaged money lands at George Mason University, including its Mercatus Center or even better Institute for Humane Studies … Chaired by Charles Koch.  See Funding and A.5-A.6 in the report there.

DONORS' grants have been analyzed in detail (I.4).  Of ~500 “charities” examined 2002-2010, the Top 40 (I.4.2-1) got 66% of the total, and of that $205M, all but $43M went to policy organizations, such as the American Enterprise Institute ($17M) Heartland Institute ($14M), or Americans for Prosperity Foundation ($11M). About 75% of the $311M given over those 9 years went to policy groups, all tax-free, with real donors anonymized. They must like this, as 2007-2010 accounted for $265M, following a big expansion in 2007.

Finally, in “Whitney Ball, her brother and her father” (I.5) some strange history is explored.  Barre Seid funds and Chairs the Chicago Freedom Trust,  C/O John Ball (Whitney's brother), located in Salt Lake City.  Trustees include Whitney Ball and Adam Myerson, who Chairs DONORS CAPITAL FUND.  In tracking all this, I also found discussion of their father, a lawyer whose repeated financial manipulations lost him the right to practice law in West Virginia.

Next week, Frontline runs   “Dark Money” Group Central to Citizens United May Have Misled IRS, also connected with attacks on climate scientists via the American Tradition Institute, David Schnare, Chris Horner. Once again, tax-free 501(c)(3) status seems to be abused for the sake of anti-science attacks.

Keep following the money.

UPDATE 10/26/12: people have asked to see the spreadsheet behind Figure I.4.2, which showed the top 80 recipients of funds from DONORS.  The 480-recipient  version is now attached.  Besides TRUST+CAPITAL totals shown already, it has TRUST and CAPITAL separately, although people may want to HIDE columns.  It is interesting to SORT by state and guess where the actual donors live, i.e., small donations to local charities may be hints, whereas many donations to the numerous VA + DC groups likely originate elsewhere.

UPDATE 02/11/13: Researchers at the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education have just revealed crucial related history, as described here in Study Confirms Tea Party Was Created by Big Tobacco and Billionaires and TEA Party: Tobacco Everywhere Always.

Although Fakery 2's section 0.6 included Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, I did not include Citizens for a Sound Economy in Figure F.4, since it no longer existed after 2004. The CTCRE researchers found at least $5.3M tobacco funding for CSE over 1991-2002, making it the largest recipient, way ahead of Washington Legal Foundation ($1.5M) or Americans for Tax Reform ($1.4M), i.e., Grover Norquist. 

UPDATE 06/23/13: the spreadsheet was updated for a more convenient format.

Image Credit: Rraum / Shutterstock.

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