Reporter’s Notebook: National Committee on Responsive Philanthropy cautions Murdock Trust
March 18, 2016
The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy is weighing in on the Pacific Northwest-based Murdock Charitable Trust controversy:
“A large private foundation that’s generally well-regarded as a supporter of traditional educational, religious, health and arts-focused nonprofits, Murdock has now raised eyebrows by supporting an array of far-right organizations, including the virulently anti-gay Alliance Defending Freedom (which sows hate not just here but internationally); the Discovery Institute (best known for its promotion of anti-evolution pseudo-science); and Freedom Foundation. Its 2015 grant of $240,000 to Freedom Foundation is the single largest grant to Freedom Foundation recorded in Foundation Center’s database. (Freedom Foundation does not have to reveal its donors publicly, but foundations who make grants to it report those grants on their own filings with the IRS.)” – National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy: Local Foundation Provides Surprising Support for Right-Wing Campaign (March 16, 2016)
The NCRP cautions Murdock against supporting plainly partisan groups like the Freedom Foundation, which is facing state and federal challenges to its non-profit “charitable” status for excessive political activity:
“While NCRP strongly encourages nonprofits and foundations to support civic engagement and advocacy to the full extent they are able to under IRS regulations, this kind of aggressively partisan activity is way over the line, not only inviting scrutiny from regulators but potentially chilling legitimate nonprofit and foundation activities.”- National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy: Local Foundation Provides Surprising Support for Right-Wing Campaign (March 16, 2016)
The advice comes as a mobile billboard in Portland and Vancouver is putting additional public pressure on a Murdock trustee, Wells Fargo Executive Jeffrey Grubb, to stop supporting anti-LGBT groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom.
Meanwhile, local groups are also calling on Portland and Seattle city councils to reconsider their municipal contracts with Wells Fargo in light of Grubb’s connections to the Murdock Trust:
- Letter to Portland City Council (3/14/16) from progressive groups including Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon and NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon.
- Letter to Seattle City Council from progressive groups including Equal Rights Washington and Statewide Poverty Action Network (March 10, 2016)
- Letter to Seattle City Council from labor unions representing city employees and others (March 10, 2016)