Politics

Foundations of Betrayal: How the Super-Rich Undermine America

“It began as a favor to a friend, and ended as a labor of love.”

So said public television host and veteran journalist Llewellyn King about reading the novel "Point of Entry," by author Peter Schecter, whom King knew and liked very much. King began the novel (about political intrigue between Columbia and the U.S. in the near future) as a favor to his friend and completed it as an true fan.

That’s about where I am after reading "Foundations of Betrayal: How the Super-Rich Undermine America," by Phil Kent. A veteran public relations man and former editor of the Augusta (GA) Chronicle, Kent has also been a personal friend of mine for nearly 15 years. For me, then, reading "Foundations" began as a favor to a friend.

But very quickly, as each page of this eyebrow-raising work turned faster than the previous one, my reading of Kent’s provocative book became a labor of love. Meshing a rich cornucopia of facts, figures, and history (including the now-forgotten-but-still revealing congressional probe of foundations in the early 1950’s chaired by Tennessee Rep. B. Carroll Reece), the author vividly explains something that has, for generations, bewildered observers of business and major foundations they spawned: why they bankroll organizations ranging from the militantly environmentalist Greenpeace to the American Civil Liberties Union — groups whose common denominator is sheer hatred of what is stood for by those writing the six-figure checks to them.

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Why, the question screams, do “we often give our enemies the means of our own destruction,” to quote the fable writer Aesop.

“Good public relations,” answers Kent, and his study found, “donating to radical groups to protect themselves against future waves of costly, image-shattering litigation.” Here the author cites the example of Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, which came under fire in 2002 for “soliciting tax-deductible contributions from corporations against whom he promised to ‘campaign’ on alleged unemployment diversity issues.” A natural analogy, notes Kent, is that “[m]any radical environmental groups take the same approach to corporate blackmail.” He then goes to illustrate how — and what stunning and never-anticipated dividends are received by those who write the big checks.

The Defenders of Wildlife, for example, was founded in 1947 and is ostensibly a conservation group. Among its backers are the David and Lucille Packard Foundation ( a creation of the co-founder of Hewlett-Packard). The DOW also opposes the U.S. war on terrorism and has been relentless in its opposition to any measure to thwart illegal immigration.

This is not an uncommon avenue for environmentalists to take, as Betrayal shows us. In 1998, the DOW, Audobon Society, and Sierra Club sued the Immigration and Naturalization Service to stop construction of fences and lighting along the Arizona border on the grounds that this would have stopped :”cross-border movement by jaguars, ocelots, and a host of other border species.” (Not surprisingly, Betrayal notes, the open borders Turner Foundation has given more than $1 million to DOW since 1997.)

Pew Charitable Trusts was once a reliable underwriter of conservative and pro-free market causes but is now under the management of a new (and liberal) generation. From 1991-2002, Pew gave $11 million to the National Resources Defense Council, which in the 1980’s launched a nationwide consumer panic about the preservative Alar in apples. Under the guidance of the far-left Fenton Communications public relations maestros, NRDC claimed that Alar in apples was a cause of cancer. A study by the EPA ended the panic, concluding “an individual would have to eat 50,000 Alar-tested apples a day over the course of a lifetime” to get cancer.

But NRDC thrives to this day, Betrayal notes, “with a shameful record of attacking and shaking down corporate America and a gullible public.”

Kent’s book also illustrates the increasingly provocative case of the latest target for seduction for big liberal dollars: religious organizations. That’s right: fueled by six-figure donations from the William and Flora Hewitt Foundation and similar sources, the National Council of Evangelicals now makes the case for global warming as much a cause as, say, the teaching of divine creationism as an alternative to evolution.

Since 1993, Betrayal concludes, “more evangelical converts have been singing from the foundation-funded ‘eco-justice’ hymnal.” Directed at 67,000 congregations of more than 100 million churchgoers and beginning with the National Council of Churches, Jewish Life, and the U.S. Catholic Conference (“wolves in clerical garb taking their 30 pieces of silver from foundation and their shills,” according to Kent), more than $5 million has been deployed in the last 14 years to make the environment part of their daily religious lives.

Shocking? Stunning? You bet it is. A recent Capital Research Center analysis of charitable donations showed that donations by the left to the Fortune 500 foundations totaled $59 million, compared to $4 million to the right. That’s a ratio of 14.5-to-1. There are Very similar, lopsided ratios in terms of liberal v. conservative donations to the “527” political groups we heard so much about last year.

Foundations of Betrayal explains why — and in no uncertain terms.

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