Tag: Charity

You Don’t Do Good by Doing Bad

In what has been an increasingly common story, both Amnesty International and the Southern Poverty Law Center have been found to violate their employees labor organizing rights:

The U.S. arm of Amnesty International, the global human rights group, broke the law by threatening its own employees, a National Labor Relations Board judge has ruled.

Managers at Amnesty International USA violated the law that protects employees’ right to organize for improved working conditions, Administrative Law Judge Michael Rosas wrote in a decision issued Tuesday.

According to the ruling, last year a group of unpaid interns, with support from some of Amnesty’s unionized permanent employees, drafted a petition to their supervisor asking to be paid. “Amnesty International’s commitment to human rights should be proven from within first,” they wrote, according to the ruling.

In response, Amnesty’s executive director held meetings in which she made implied threats; told employees to make workplace complaints verbally before putting them in writing; equated their organizing with disloyalty; and asked staff to report co-workers’ activism to management.

All of those actions violated the National Labor Relations Act, the judge concluded.

and for the SPLC:

Southern Poverty Law Center management said Tuesday they would not voluntarily recognize a union organized by employees at the civil rights nonprofit and have hired a Virginia law firm whose website boasts about victories over labor organization attempts.

The SPLC Union said in a statement Tuesday it was “disappointed” in the decision but that it would go through an election, if necessary.

“Management’s refusal to voluntarily recognize the union and decision to hire a law firm that specializes in ‘union avoidance strategies’ are counter to SPLC’s values,” the statement said. “The Center cannot truly claim to support workers’ rights, while also hiring a ‘union avoidance’ law firm to prevent its own workers from exercising our right to collective bargaining.”

It’s the hypocrisy, stupid.

Before You Give, Do Your Homework

Among the other potential impeachable offenses that are not being investigated at the moment, are the Trump foundation’s rampant self dealing and corruption.

The foundation is being liquidated, and paying a $2,000,000.00 fine.

This raises a bigger point though, that there is little in the way of oversight or accountability for so called charitable foundations:

The New York State attorney general’s case against the Trump Foundation — Donald Trump’s nonprofit that a court shut down earlier this year — has concluded. The Trumps have agreed to pay a $2 million fine, the attorney general’s office said in a press release on Thursday.

The deal follows years of incredible, careful reporting by a number of reporters but most of all the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold. As Fahrenthold discovered, the Trump Foundation often operated as a slush fund for the Trump family and Trump’s businesses. It bought Trump an autographed Tim Tebow helmet, a portrait of himself, and money for various lawsuit settlements. Less entertainingly but perhaps more importantly, he also used a foundation fundraiser, which was nationally televised a few days before the Iowa caucuses, to promote his presidential bid in 2016.

Now, per the deal with the New York attorney general’s office:

The $1.78 million in assets currently being held by the Trump Foundation, along with the $2 million in damages to be paid by Mr. Trump, will be disbursed equally to eight charities: Army Emergency Relief, the Children’s Aid Society, Citymeals-on-Wheels, Give an Hour, Martha’s Table, United Negro College Fund, United Way of National Capital Area, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. The charities — which were required as part of the resolution to be entities that did not have any relationship with Mr. Trump or entities he controlled — were approved by the Office of the Attorney General and the court.

It’s a fitting punishment: forcing a fake foundation that funneled money to bogus causes to actually use its money to benefit real charities. “My office will continue to fight for accountability because no one is above the law — not a businessman, not a candidate for office, and not even the president of the United States,” Attorney General Letitia James concluded in her statement.

It’s a nice sentiment, but it’s not true: Plenty of foundations are and remain above the law. The investigation into the Trump Foundation was unusual. There are some 86,000 foundations in the United States, with total assets of around $890 billion, and the vast majority of them never face this kind of scrutiny.


The Trump case is egregious, but it didn’t merely happen because Trump is seemingly prone to playing fast and loose with tax law. It happened because there are tens of thousands of foundations in the US, and they operate with little or no regulatory oversight — from state attorneys general, from the IRS, from anyone.

This really is an area that needs a sh%$-load more oversight and requirements.

Rule 1 of Conservative: They Lie

Rule 2 is: See Rule 1.

Case in point, the claims by the Federalist Society that they are not an advocacy organization.

Newly leaked organizations clearly show otherwise:

This past March, when the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies held its 37th annual national gathering for conservative law students, the lineup of speakers and panelists included an impressive number of Republican Party and conservative movement stars.


Despite what appears to be an obvious political valence, the Federalist Society and its high-profile members have long insisted the nonprofit organization does not endorse any political party “or engage in other forms of political advocacy,” as its website says. The society does not deny an ideology—it calls itself a “group of conservatives and libertarians”—but it maintains that it is simply “about ideas,” not legislation, politicians or policy positions.

Federalist Society documents that one of us recently unearthed, however, make this position untenable going forward. The documents, made public here for the first time, show that the society not only has held explicit ideological goals since its infancy in the early 1980s, but sought to apply those ideological goals to legal policy and political issues through the group’s roundtables, symposia and conferences.

The question of whether the Federalist Society is properly characterized as a “society of ideas” or a political organization has significant ramifications. The Code of Conduct for United States Judges, a set of guidelines administered by the federal judiciary’s Judicial Conference, was revised earlier this year to bar sitting federal judges from participating in conferences and seminars sponsored by groups “generally viewed by the public as having adopted a consistent political or ideological point of view equivalent to the type of partisanship often found in political organizations.” (The Code does not “explicitly” apply to Supreme Court justices, though they have looked to it in the past.) One former federal judge argued that under the new ethics opinion, the Federalist Society is now a “no-go zone for federal judges.” The Society’s president, Eugene Meyer, responded, calling the former jurist’s argument an “absurd and ludicrous” interpretation of the rule, adding that the Federalist Society has said “time and again” that it is nonpartisan and does not take official policy positions.

But the newly unearthed documents—a 1984 grant proposal and cover letter, written by Meyer on the Federalist Society’s behalf and now housed in the late Judge Robert Bork’s papers at the Library of Congress—provide evidence that the Federalist Society, in contravention of what the new Code states, in fact “advocates for specific outcomes on legal or political issues.” This suggests that federal judges, by attending Federalist Society events, are transgressing the Code’s new guidelines. Given the importance of active federal judges to the Federalist Society’s long-term goal of reshaping the law, barring them from the society’s events could hamper its continued ability to exert the political influence it has impressively built over decades.

The Federalist Society was founded in 1982 as a small law student group with the goal of bringing conservative and libertarian speakers, and their ideas, to law school campuses perceived to be dismissive of these intellectual traditions. After the Federalist Society held its first national symposium at Yale Law School that year—featuring recent Reagan-appointed federal appeals court judges Bork and Antonin Scalia—Federalist Society student groups started popping up on law school campuses around the country. The organization now boasts more than 65,000 members, and most federal judgeships, clerkships and executive branch legal jobs in Republican administrations are effectively off-limits to nonmembers.

The Federalist Society’s founders and conservative patrons understood early on that the battle for control of the law would not be won on campuses alone. In the January 1984 grant proposal, Meyer, then the Federalist Society’s executive director, asked the conservative-leaning Smith Richardson Foundation for “seed money” to fund a new entity, a “Lawyers Division.” The central goal, Meyer wrote, was “to build an effective national conservative lawyers organization.” Meyer began the proposal by asserting that an alternative to “an increasingly radicalized bar,” exemplified by the American Bar Association, was now necessary because “lawyers continue to fill key positions in the modern instrumentalities of the welfare state.”

The Federalist Society promised the prospective donor that the Lawyers Division would have a “dual purpose.” First, to “an even greater extent than the activities of the student and faculty divisions,” the new division would “educat[e] lawyers on legal developments with ideological connotations and how to deal with them.” The second purpose was “the formation of groups of conservative lawyers in the major centers for the practice of law, who feel comfortable believing in, and advocating, conservative positions.” The division, Meyer wrote, would mimic the style of workshops and seminars hosted by bar associations: “Unlike those events, however, the panels will also have ideological overtones, picking topics where the developments are especially good and should be encouraged, or especially bad and should be stopped.” The proposal offered examples of these workshops. Seattle might focus on the problems posed by “Environmental Regulation”; in New York, “Banking Regulation”; and in Houston, “Employment Discrimination (including the question of whether reverse discrimination is even constitutional).” The proposal also mentioned the Lawyers Division potentially “making its own recommendation for judicial appointments.”

Simply put, when the Federalist Society was describing its mission in private to a politically sympathetic donor, it let drop the group’s public-facing fiction that it is merely a debating society for the organic development of ideas.

I don’t know if this would put their 501(C)3 tax exempt status at risk, but these documents clearly indicate that it is prohibited for federal judges, who are subject to the Code of Conduct for Federal Judges would be prohibited from participating in the group’s activities, though Supreme Court justices, who are not subject to the Code, could participate.

Why Defined Contribution Plans Do Not Work

Because there is extreme information asymmetry in favor of the financial industry, there is an opportunity for fraud, and as I’ve noted before, (today) If fraud can occur, fraud will occur.

Case in point, Fidelity bribing MIT to allow the financial firm overcharge the school’s employees for their retirement plan:

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the nation’s most prestigious universities, stands accused of hurting workers in the company’s retirement plan by engaging in an improper relationship with the financial firm Fidelity.

A lawsuit headed to trial in September alleges that MIT ignored the advice of its own consultants and allowed Fidelity to pack the university’s retirement plan with high-fee investment funds that ended up costing employees tens of millions of dollars. In return, the lawsuit said, MIT leveraged millions of dollars in donations from Fidelity.

MIT and Fidelity say the allegations have no merit.

The same as any employer that offers workers a retirement plan, MIT is required by law to set up investment options that are in the best interest of its employees and retirees.


Twenty years ago, MIT hired Fidelity to help manage its 401(k) plan. But the lawsuit alleges that MIT then let Fidelity include dozens of Fidelity funds with high fees — and that some charged fees more than 100 times higher than other funds that MIT could have chosen. [Plaintiff’s Attorney Jerry] Schlichter said MIT’s own outside consultants recommended shifting to a plan with lower-cost investment options, but “that advice was ignored for years.”

Meanwhile, Schlichter’s lawsuit says, MIT benefited from the excessive fees that the workers’ retirement plan paid Fidelity. Court documents allege: “In return, MIT leveraged Fidelity’s revenue stream from the Plan to secure numerous donations (over $23 million since Fidelity became the recordkeeper).”

In 2015, when the university considered other options, an MIT dean emailed the head of an MIT committee overseeing the plan: “if we’re not switching to Vanguard or TIAA Cref, I am going to expect something big and good coming to MIT,” according to the court records.

Schlichter said that soon after that exchange, “Fidelity donated $5 million to MIT.”

Seriously, we need to cap fees on tax deferred accounts.

While there may be a societal value to retirement savings accounts, there is no such value to reckless seeking alpha, nor is there a societal value to rip off retirees.

It will hit Wall Street in the pocket book, but f%$# Wall Street.

The NRA Doth Protest Too Much

The NRA argued that it was their ad firm, and not them, that was attempting this blatant effort at self dealing.

Well, the Wall Street Journal now has the $70,000 check from the National Rifle Association to a shell company that was to execute the purchase:

In May 2018, the National Rifle Association sent a $70,000 check to an obscure Delaware entity called WBB Investments LLC, which had been incorporated a week earlier.

The check, a copy of which was obtained by The Wall Street Journal, raises new questions about the NRA’s attempts to explain a tangled transaction involving its then-outside advertising agency and an abortive plan to purchase a $6 million Dallas mansion for NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre.

The advertising agency, Ackerman McQueen, recently turned over documents to the proposed house purchase to the New York attorney general’s office, which is probing Mr. LaPierre’s dealings with the agency as part of a broad investigation of the NRA.

When the Journal broke the story last week, the NRA initially said the plan to buy the mansion was hatched by Angus McQueen, the ad agency’s late co-CEO, as a kind of safe house for Mr. LaPierre. The NRA chief had concerns about his security in the wake of the February 2018 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla.

The NRA said the house was to be purchased by a company owned by senior Ackerman executives, and Mr. LaPierre shut down the transaction after discovering that the ad company intended to use NRA funds for the deal. “Not a cent of NRA money was ultimately spent,” the NRA said.

An NRA check for $70,000 to an obscure Delaware entity called WBB Investments is the most-direct evidence to have emerged of the flow of money in the aborted mansion deal.

Ackerman, for its part, says Mr. LaPierre had wanted the mansion, which it said was to be paid for by the NRA. According to Ackerman’s version of events, Mr. LaPierre had asked Ackerman to help facilitate the deal, and an Ackerman lawyer set up WBB Investments to buy the house so the LaPierre connection wouldn’t become public.

Mr. LaPierre and his wife, Susan, twice visited the house—a 10,000-square-foot residence in a gated golf community—and were preparing to put down $70,000 in earnest money to make an offer, according to people familiar with this version of the transaction.

Enter the check, dated May 25, 2018, and drawn on an NRA account at Wells Fargo . It is the most-direct evidence of the flow of money in the aborted deal to have emerged.

“If there’s a check from the NRA to an LLC, that doesn’t seem consistent with a story that Ackerman was going to pay for it,” said Elizabeth Kingsley, a Washington lawyer who specializes in nonprofit law. “Even if it’s just earnest money, the money is on the line and the check shows NRA money, not Ackerman funds.”


The NRA was laundering money for Wayne LaPierre’s personal benefit.

Nope, No Corruption Here

Charitable Organization, My Ass!

Click through for my pithy architectural critiques

Papers have revealed that the National Rifle Association was considering purchasing a 10,000 square foot mansion for its executive VP Wayne LaPierre.

I do not agree with the NRA’s current mission, but this is not about their lobbying for the firearms industry, it’s about the proper management of a not-for-profit organization.

I incorporated a not-for-profit, and shepherded its application for tax exempt status with the IRS about 30 years ago, so I have more than a passing familiarity with these issues, and this crosses a pretty bright red line.

What’s more, it appears that tey attempted to use kickbacks from a vendor to conceal this.

Here is hoping that the New York Attorney General with be on the organization like white on rice:

The chief executive of the National Rifle Association sought to have the nonprofit organization buy him a luxury mansion last year after a mass shooting at a Florida high school, selecting a French country-style estate in a gated Dallas-area golf club, according to multiple people familiar with the discussions.

Wayne LaPierre, the longtime head of the NRA, told associates he was worried about being targeted and needed a more secure place to live after 17 people were gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., the people said.

LaPierre and his wife, Susan, were intensely involved in the selection of the property, rejecting an upscale high rise in Dallas with numerous security features in favor of a 10,000-square-foot estate with lakefront and golf course views in Westlake, Tex., on the market for about $6 million, according to emails and text messages described to The Washington Post.

Yea, right, “Security considerations.”


The discussions about the estate, which was not ultimately purchased, are under scrutiny by New York investigators. The transaction was slated to be made through a corporate entity that received a $70,000 wire from the NRA in 2018, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.

The entity was created at ­Wayne LaPierre’s request by a law firm working for Ackerman McQueen, the NRA’s longtime ad agency, according to the people.

The origins of the idea to buy the mansion, its proposed purpose and the reason the deal never went through are now being fiercely disputed by the NRA and Ackerman McQueen, which are locked in a bitter legal fight.

In a statement late Tuesday night, Ackerman McQueen said LaPierre had sought the ad firm’s assistance with the real estate transaction, a proposal it said alarmed company officials. “Actions in this regard led to Ackerman McQueen’s loss of faith in Mr. LaPierre’s decision-making,” the firm said.

It appears that this was a bridge too far for Ackerman McQueen, but the basic execution was for the NRA to overpay their ad agency, and then that the agency would kick back personal benefits to LaPierre.

This is thoroughly corrupt an completely illegal.


The New York attorney general’s office is now examining the plan for an NRA-financed mansion as part of its ongoing investigation into the gun lobby’s tax-exempt status, in which it has subpoenaed the group’s financial records, the people said.

Yeah, pretty much.


Angus McQueen, the now-deceased chief executive of the ad firm, had learned about the location of the property and was furious about LaPierre’s claim that he needed the property for security reasons, the people said.

“He said ‘The scales fell from my eyes,’ ” said one person familiar with the discussions. “They were buying a Taj Mahal on a golf course with a social membership.”

In a statement last month, Ackerman McQueen said it decided to stop paying a series of expenses for NRA executives, including LaPierre, in 2018 out of concern they were “suspicious” and their true nature was concealed from the NRA board and members.

No sympathy for Angus McQueen, or Ackerman McQueen. To quote Upton Sinclair, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

Ackerman McQueen was complicit in looting the NRA, because it made them money.

Hopefully, there is a way for both of them to lose.

So, Not a Surprise

It turns out that the National Rifle Association is a poster child for corrupt self-dealing:

A former pro football player who serves on the National Rifle Association board was paid $400,000 by the group in recent years for public outreach and firearms training. Another board member, a writer in New Mexico, collected more than $28,000 for articles in NRA publications. Yet another board member sold ammunition from his private company to the NRA for an undisclosed sum.

The NRA, which has been rocked by allegations of exorbitant spending by top executives, also directed money in recent years that went to board members — the very people tasked with overseeing the organization’s finances.

In all, 18 members of the NRA’s 76-member board, who are not paid as directors, collected money from the group during the past three years, according to tax filings, state charitable reports and NRA correspondence reviewed by The Washington Post.


Among the revelations that have burst into public view: CEO Wayne LaPierre racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in charges at a Beverly Hills clothing boutique and on foreign travel, invoices show. Oliver North, forced out as president after trying to oust LaPierre, was set to collect millions of dollars in a deal with the NRA’s now-estranged public relations agency, Ackerman McQueen, according to LaPierre. And the NRA’s outside attorney reaped “extraordinary” legal fees that totaled millions of dollars in the past year, according to North.


State and federal laws allow members of nonprofit boards to do business with their organizations under certain guidelines. The Internal Revenue Service can impose penalties if top officials and their families receive economic benefits that exceed fair market value.

Tax experts said the numerous payments to certain NRA directors create potential conflicts of interest that could cloud the board’s independent monitoring of the organization’s finances.

“In 25 years of working in this field, I have never seen a pattern like this,” said Douglas Varley, a Washington attorney at Caplin & Drysdale who specializes in tax-exempt organizations and reviewed the NRA’s federal and state filings from 2016 through 2018 for The Washington Post. “The volume of transactions with insiders and affiliates of insiders is really astonishing.”


Letters from Ackerman’s chief financial officer to LaPierre, first reported by the Wall Street Journal and obtained by The Post, detailed large expenses billed by LaPierre, including nearly $275,000 in personal charges at a Beverly Hills men’s store and more than $253,000 in luxury travel to locations such as Italy, Budapest and the Bahamas. Bills also show $13,800 to rent an apartment for a summer intern. 

The juxtaposition of apocalyptic world and corruption seems to be very common, particularly when dealing with right wing political groups.

It amuses me that the average NRA member is being played for a chump, which reflects poorly on my character.

Civil Society Organization is an Oxymoron

At least where the Ukraine is concerned.

Sure enough one of the signatories is “NGO ‘CentreUA'”—same NGO, funded by Omidyar, Soros, USAID, that organized Maidan revolution. That’s like a gun pointed at Zelensky’s head. Outrageous. https://t.co/JiWAXEpUp0

— Mark Ames (@MarkAmesExiled) May 24, 2019

These organizations are threatening to foment a coup against the new President of the Ukraine unless he acquiesces to their demands.

Here is a list of the most significant of their demands:

  • Don’t revisit the Ukrainian language law, which has the effect of removing citizenship from Russian speakers and other minorities.
  • No coalition talks with opposition parties.
  • No negotiations with the Russians without a US minder.
  • Attempt no rapprochement between the Ukrainian and Russian churches.
  • Don’t fight the IMF restrictions on the country.
  • Continue to move toward joining NATO.
  • Continue to move toward joining the EU.
  • Don’t attempt wealth redistribution. (In one of the most unequal countries on earth)
  • Continue the blockade of Russian media.

These are not the demands of concerned non-governmental agencies, this is a CIA wet dream.

If you wonder why so many governments seem to feel that “Civil Society” organizations are CIA fronts, it’s because so many of them ARE CIA fronts.

And this is Even Weirder………

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that Olliver North was fired as head of the NRA, which is in dire financial straits.

Well, documents have leaked from the NRA, and they reveal what appears to be extensive looting of the organization by Wayne LaPierre, and that Oliver North was fired trying to raise these issues, so Oliver North was on the side of the proverbial angels, at least in the context of the NRA.

Oliver North is the good guy?  In anything?

What the F%$#?????

We live in a topsy-turvey world.

Also, the level corruption in the NRA makes Somalia look like the epitome of good governance.

Still, lots of schadenfreude here at the troubles of the NRA is currently experiencing, the New York AG is investigating them as well.

They deserve any misery that the universe can inflict on them.

A Good Start

The Guggenheim Museum has announced that it will no longer take donations from the Sackler family, because they have revealed themselves to be little more than amoral drug pushers:

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York said on Friday that it did not plan to accept future gifts from the family of Mortimer D. Sackler, a philanthropist and former board member whose money has been met with growing unease in the art world as his family’s pharmaceutical interests have been linked to the opioid crisis.

The Guggenheim’s decision was announced one day after Tate, which runs some of the most important art museums in Britain, announced a similar move, saying that “in the present circumstances we do not think it right to seek or accept further donations from the Sacklers.”

Earlier this week, Britain’s National Portrait Gallery also spurned the Sackler family, saying it would not accept a long-discussed $1.3 million donation from one of the family’s foundations, the London-based Sackler Trust.

The Guggenheim announced its decision on Friday in a brief statement that did not mention the opioid crisis or Mr. Sackler’s past on the museum’s board. A museum spokeswoman declined on Friday night to explain its rationale for the move or its decision-making process.


“No contributions from the Sackler family have been received since 2015,” the statement said. “No additional gifts are planned, and the Guggenheim does not plan to accept any gifts.”


The decision by a series of leading institutions to spurn gifts by the Sacklers, major donors on both sides of the Atlantic, is a potent sign of the deepening disquiet within the art world over the family’s connection to the opioid crisis.


Last month, Daniel Weiss, the president and chief executive of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, said in a statement that it valued its longstanding relationship with the Sackler family, whose name is on the wing housing the museum’s showpiece Temple of Dendur.

But he said the museum was “currently engaging in a further review of our detailed gift acceptance policies, and we will have more to report in due course.”

It’s nice that the Sacklers are being shunned, as they should be, but I still want to see the Billy Ray Valentine solution.*

*The best way you hurt rich people is by turning them into poor people.

Not at all Surprised

It turns out that the Orwellian-named Center for American Progress is in the pockets of the United Arab Emerates, and have gone hammer an tong after employees who are concerned about this:

The Center for American Progress fired two staffers suspected of being involved in leaking an email exchange that staffers thought reflected improper influence by the United Arab Emirates within the think tank, according to three sources with knowledge of the shake-up. Both staffers were investigated for leaking the contents of an internal email exchange to The Intercept, but neither of the former employees was The Intercept’s source.


A CAP spokesperson acknowledged two employees were fired as a result of the leak investigation, but said that the leak was not the reason they were fired: “We are not going to discuss internal personnel matters, but no one was fired at CAP for leaking or whistleblowing.” Internally, however, multiple members of CAP leadership have used the leak as the leading rationale for the firings in multiple settings, sources said. Gude did not return requests for comment.

At issue was an internal debate over how to frame CAP’s response to the murder of Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was dismembered by Saudi Arabian officials inside the nation’s consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

The initial draft of the CAP’s statement condemned the killing and Saudi Arabia’s role in it, calling for specific consequences. Brian Katulis, a Gulf expert at CAP, objected to the specific consequences proposed in an email exchange with other national security staffers, according to sources who described the contents of the thread to The Intercept. At an impasse, the specifics were dropped, replaced merely with a call to “take additional steps to reassess” the U.S.-Saudi relationship, and the statement was released to the public on October 12.

I’m not surprised.

It’s a vipers nest of Clintonite grifters like Neera Tanden, Tom Daschle, John Podesta, and Larry Summers, so it’s no surprise that they are bought and paid for by the Saudi’s Persian Gulf war criminal (Yemen) buddies.

Yet Another Reason Not to Give to NPR

Julia Botero was happy to catch on, and determined to stay on, at NPR. After completing an internship at the public broadcasting organization in Washington in 2013, she began a year-long stint as a temporary employee, moving between producing jobs at NPR’s signature news programs, “All Things Considered” and “Morning Edition.”


Worse was the sense of constant competition among her fellow temps, many of whom were angling to be hired for a limited number of permanent positions. “The only person I felt I could trust,” she said, “was the person I was dating, who was in the same position I was.” After a year of such uncertainty, she left, taking a job as a reporter for a group of public radio stations in New York state.

What’s surprising about Botero’s experience is how unsurprising it is at NPR.

For decades, the public broadcaster has relied on a cadre of temporary journalists to produce its hourly newscasts and popular news programs. Without temporary workers — who are subject to termination without cause — NPR would probably be unable to be NPR. Temps do almost every important job in NPR’s newsroom: They pitch ideas, assign stories, edit them, report and produce them. Temps not only book the guests heard in interviews, they often write the questions the hosts ask the guests.

And there are a lot of them. According to union representatives, between 20 and 22 percent of NPR’s 483 union-covered newsroom workforce — or 1 in 5 people — are temp workers. The number varies week to week as temps come and go.


Resentment among temps about their status has boiled beneath the surface at NPR for years, but the tensions have begun to bubble up over the past several months. Some temporary employees raised complaints in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal involving Michael Oreskes, the former head of NPR’s newsroom. Oreskes was accused by several women, including a then-temporary employee, of misconduct. Oreskes was forced to resign by NPR last year; several women said his behavior highlighted the vulnerability of temporary employees, who fear they could be blackballed for complaining or resisting an overly aggressive manager.

The outrage over Oreskes coalesced into a broader employee inquiry into the status of temps at NPR. Following “listening sessions” conducted among 40 current and former temporary journalists, NPR employees produced a report in May detailing a number of grievances and allegedly abusive practices.

Among them: Temps were often left in the dark about how long their assignments would last, how much they’d be paid, who they were reporting to, or what their title was. They also said they received little feedback from supervisors after completing an assignment, and were “routinely” overlooked in NPR’s recruiting efforts.

Several temps interviewed for this story use the same word to describe NPR’s temp system: “Exploitative.”

By any measure, NPR is unusual among broadcast media organizations in the size of its temporary workforce.


NPR’s union representatives remain guarded, however. They noted that during bruising negotiations over a new three-year contract last year, NPR’s management proposed eliminating all benefits for temps (except those required by law), including health insurance and holiday pay. Those proposals were withdrawn amid broad staff opposition.

As I have noted before, if a company does not do well by its employees, it’s claims to do good are highly suspect.

Why to Ignore Public Radio Pledge Time

Did you hear the bit that they did about Amazon on Morning Edition?

It was all about how Amazon’s AI was ushering in some sort of shoppper’s utopia, while studiously ignoring the awful record of the firm on the labor and the environment.

If they throw their lot in with Amazon because of its sponsorship money, they don’t need yours.

Force the choice:

There are dozens of reports detailing how Amazon’s shipping policies negatively effects both the environment and workers, but one wouldn’t have any idea either was a concern after listening to NPR’s sexed-up report (Morning Edition, 11/21/18), “Optimized Prime: How AI and Anticipation Power Amazon’s 1-Hour Deliveries.”

The report, detailing the “Artificial Intelligence” behind Amazon’s delivery systems, relies entirely on interviews with Amazon flacks. The only people NPR speaks to are Brad Porter, the head of robotics for Amazon operations; Jenny Freshwater, director of software development; and Amazon VP Cem Sibay. No outside parties were sought for comment, let alone anyone remotely adversarial, such as labor organizers or environmental activists.

Indeed, the words “labor,” “worker” or “employee” are nowhere to be found in the six-minute report: Christmas packages simply deliver themselves with the help of brilliant Amazon execs and this mysterious AI technology. If Amazon’s marketing department wrote and produced a segment on their AI technology for NPR, it’s difficult to see how it would have been any different. Host Rachel Martin and correspondent Alina Selyukh all but literally exclaim “gee whiz”:


What economists? What does “latest chapter of industrialization” even mean? NPR, using Amazon’s spokespeople and paraphrasing a nebulous cohort of “economists,” recasts “criticism,” such that it is, as a generic, sanitized critique against an industry trend presumably out of Amazon‘s control, rather than directing criticism at Amazon themselves—a employer notorious for worker abuses ranging from wage theft, Orwellian working conditions, intimidation, retaliation and union-busting.

None of these widely documented concerns—all of which make cheap two-day shipping possible—were mentioned at all. Nor were the equally well-documented environmental downsides to two-day shipping, a convenience that, despite NPR’s “oh wow, how do they do that” excitement, creates tons of gratuitous, harmful carbon emissions.

Seriously: If you are a member, tell them to go Cheney themselves comes pledge time.

Windows Toilet???? Are You Sh%$#ing Me?

It appears that Bill Gates is determined to create the high tech toilet of the future.

4 Words, Blue Screen of Death.

Do ……… not ……… want:

Bill Gates believes the world needs better toilets.

Specifically, toilets that improve hygiene, don’t have to connect to sewage systems at all and can break down human waste into fertilizer.

So on Tuesday in Beijing, Mr. Gates held the Reinvented Toilet Expo, a chance for companies to showcase their takes on the simple bathroom fixture. Companies showed toilets that could separate urine from other waste for more efficient treatment, that recycled water for hand washing and that sported solar roofs. 

Two points:

  1. Toilets need to be more reliable than you average machine.
  2. Bill Gates only qualification to be an “expert” s that he’s obscenely rich, which something profoundly f%$#ed up about our society.

Hope for Humanity

A crowdfunding campaign formed by two Muslim groups has raised more than $60,000 for the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, which killed 11, the Independent reported.

Muslim-American non-profits Celebrate Mercy and MPower Change were behind the campaign, “Muslims Unite For Pittsburgh Synagogue.” It is also in partnership with the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh.

The campaign reached its initial goal of $25,000 goal in six hours. As of press time, it raised $62,500 of its new $75,000 goal. The proceeds will help with funeral expenses and medical bills.


A group of Jewish leaders told President Trump that he is no longer welcome in Pittsburgh until he denounces white nationalism following the shooting at a synagogue there over the weekend.

Eleven members of the Pittsburgh affiliate of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice penned a letter to Trump following the Saturday shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue.

“Our Jewish community is not the only group you have targeted,” the group wrote. “You have also deliberately undermined the safety of people of color, Muslims, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities. Yesterday’s massacre is not the first act of terror you incited against a minority group in our country.”

Hopefully the rest of the community in Pittsburgh take a similar position.

If a Charity Does Not Do Well By Its Employees, Take Your Contributions Elsewhere

Case in point, the Boys & Girls Club of Spokane County, where the executive director laments limitations on slave labor:

In 2016, NPQ published an article by Andy Schmidt, a labor lawyer, entitled “Is Exploiting Workers Key to Your Enterprise Model? Nonprofits and the New Overtime Requirements.” Maybe this deserves a reread in Washington state, where some nonprofits oppose a proposal its Department of Labor and Industries put out for public comment that would increase the number of workers eligible for overtime pay. The measure comes on top of a graduated minimum wage hike to $12.00 next year and to $13.50 in 2020.

“More and more of us are working more and more hours,” the nonprofit Working Washington says on its website, “but we’re not getting paid for it. Pretty much all an employer has to do is call someone a manager and pay them a salary of at least $24,000 a year, and they can make them work as many hours as they feel like.”

And, indeed, that appears to be the assumption being made by some nonprofit managers, who somehow manage to craft an appeal for a continuation of unfair labor practices based on the needs of low-income children—some of whom, one could presume, live in those very families.

You do good by doing good.

Exploitative charities, the Nader orgs come to mind, need to be eschewed by people of good conscience,

Not Enough Bullets

Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and Square, is whining about the, “unfairness” of San Francisco’s homeless tax:

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Friday sounded off against a San Francisco measure to increase corporate taxes that would give the city more funding to tackle its homeless crisis.

Dorsey said he was opposed to San Francisco’s Proposition C because he believes one of companies he leads as CEO, Square, will be taxed at unfair rates compared to other major companies such as Salesforce.

The Twitter head wrote in a series of tweets that with the proposition’s passage, Square could potentially face more than $20 million in taxes in 2019 compared to Salesforce.

Seriously, just how much money do you need, Jack?

How many yachts do you need to water-ski behind.

What a repulsive excuse for a human being.

How Convenient

In response to revelations that the NRA has been laundering foreign money for political lobbying, Trump’s Treasury Secretary has eliminated donor disclosure requirements:

The U.S. Treasury said on Monday that it will no longer require certain tax-exempt organizations including politically active nonprofit groups, such as the National Rifle Association and Planned Parenthood, to identify their financial donors to U.S. tax authorities.

The policy change, heralded by conservatives as an advance for free speech, maintains donor disclosure requirements for traditional charity groups organized to receive tax-exempt donations under a section of the Internal Revenue code known as 501(c)(3), the Treasury said.

But the move frees labor unions, issue advocacy organizations, veterans groups and other nonprofits that do not receive tax-exempt money from meeting confidential disclosure requirements set in place decades ago.

Well, we already know that they are trying to hide.

Not a Surprise

As someone who founded a non-profit 501(c)3 charity, I tried to make sure that I never personally benefited from what it did.

It wasn’t that hard, because I never drew a salary, and the total budget while I ran involved in managing the organization was less than $100K annually while I was there.

I did, however, manage to f%$# up lots of other things,

However, it appears that this was a bridge too far for Donald Trump and his Evil Minions:

The New York State attorney general’s office filed a scathingly worded lawsuit on Thursday taking aim at the Donald J. Trump Foundation, accusing the charity and the Trump family of sweeping violations of campaign finance laws, self-dealing and illegal coordination with the presidential campaign.

The lawsuit, which seeks to dissolve the foundation and bar President Trump and three of his children from serving on nonprofit organizations, was an extraordinary rebuke of a sitting president. The attorney general also sent referral letters to the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Election Commission for possible further action, adding to Mr. Trump’s extensive legal challenges.

The lawsuit, filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, culminated a nearly two-year investigation of Mr. Trump’s charity, which became a subject of scrutiny during and after the 2016 presidential campaign. While such foundations are supposed to be devoted to charitable activities, the petition asserts that Mr. Trump’s was often improperly used to settle legal claims against his various businesses, even spending $10,000 on a portrait of Mr. Trump that was hung at one of his golf clubs.

The foundation was also used to curry political favor, the lawsuit asserts. During the 2016 race, the foundation became a virtual arm of Mr. Trump’s campaign, email traffic showed, with his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, directing its expenditures, even though such foundations are explicitly prohibited from political activities.

The attorney general’s office is seeking the Trump Foundation to pay $2.8 million in restitution, the amount raised for the foundation at a 2016 Iowa political fund-raiser. At the time, Mr. Trump skipped a Republican debate and set up his own event to raise money for veterans, though he used the event to skewer his opponents and celebrate his own accomplishments.

Seriously, this sh%$ is not tough.

When I applied for not-for-profit in Massachusetts, they provided the case study, where Students Against Driving Drunk (SADD) and its founder were bitch-slapped by authorities for making significant golden parachute payments.

Determining what is, and is not, illegal “Self Dealing” ain’t rocket science, folks, but the Trump clan are too stupid, and too venal, to get that.

Doing Good Does Not Excuse Doing it Badly

Case in point, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, who has decided to go Walmart on its employees’ attempt to unionize:

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains is asking Donald Trump’s National Labor Relations Board for help in busting its staff union. Last December staff at the clinic voted to join the Service Employees International Union (SEIU); management is challenging that decision.

By using the rightwing Trump administration against its own workers, a Planned Parenthood chapter is effectively pitting two powerful beacons of progressive politics against one another, at a time when we all need them to be working together. That’s bad enough. But it’s especially troubling for a reproductive rights organization to take an anti-union stance, given that unions are central to feminist progress.
Unionized workers suffer less sex discrimination and sexual harassment than other workers, and when they do experience these things, unions offer grievance procedures to address them, as well as solidarity and guidance. By contrast, the neoliberal workplace – and the gig economy – offer women the opportunity to lean in and suck it up.

The goal at this point should not be just to have Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains to reverse course:  Their senior management needs to go now.

This behavior, I call it the Ralph Nader school of persnnel management for non-profits, is an intolerable and an unaffordable hypocrisy.