[Editor’s note: If it sounds convoluted, it’s on purpose. This is the first in a series of stories exposing a massive shell game with taxpayer funds that, while not new, is being perfected by the Obama administration as a means to deploy and reward non-profit co-laborers in an effort to fulfill the president’s stated aim of radically transforming America. It’s a system in which complexity serves as a useful tool to avoid drawing scrutiny. The series will offer a tour of the landscape and ultimately address the implications for every citizen.
By Matthew Vadum
WASHINGTON – The Obama administration is using your tax dollars to back a super-wealthy, left-wing charity that cuts checks to a myriad of avowedly “progressive” causes, including the notorious Media Matters for America, founded by Hillary Clinton ally and Fox News nemesis David Brock.
It’s just one of many examples of how in the Obama era, government is handing out money to nonprofits that share the ideology and political inclinations of a president who looks back warmly on his time as a community organizer in Chicago.
“Barack is not a politician first and foremost,” first lady Michelle Obama has said. “He’s a community activist exploring the viability of politics to make change.”
In this case, the charity receiving federal funding is called Silicon Valley Community Foundation, a favorite philanthropy of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Based in Mountain View, California, it is already awash in private funds.
Zuckerberg pledged in December 2013 to give Facebook shares to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation shares worth $1 billion. He previously gave $500 million worth of Facebook shares to the foundation and another $100 million to the foundation earmarked for public schools in Newark, New Jersey.
Blurring the lines
The federal government has been funding left-wing groups like the Silicon Valley Community Foundation for at least a half-century, ever since the so-called “War on Poverty” was launched by President Lyndon Johnson.
But President Obama is aggressively using taxpayer funds in a way that blurs the line between government functions and political activism, while at the same time stealthily fostering a steady increase in the overall size and scope of government.
Another example of the Obama administration’s funding and deployment of left-wing groups in governmental functions to carry out its ideological agenda, reported exclusively by WND last year, was the IRS hiring of the avowedly progressive Urban Institute, supported by far-left billionaire activist George Soros, to process the Form 990s of non-profit groups.
At the time, revelations of the IRS targeting of conservative groups that oppose Obama’s agenda were continuing to emerge.
Together, the two stories present a picture of an administration that rewards its friends, punishes its enemies and, in the process, fundamentally changes the character of government.
Similarly, President Obama’s nomination of Loretta Lynch to succeed Eric Holder as attorney general has put a spotlight on the administration’s decision to “defer prosecution” against banking giant HSBC despite laundering billions of dollars in funds for Middle Eastern terrorists and Mexican drug cartels. It was Lynch, in her role as a U.S. attorney, who handled the HSBC charges, which were brought to light in a series of stories reported exclusively by WND beginning in 2012, based on charges by John Cruz, a former vice president and relationship manager for the bank. Lynch’s nomination has been delayed as, among other issues, the Senate Judiciary Committee investigates Cruz’s allegations that Lynch engaged in a Department of Justice cover-up.
Meanwhile, the Daily Caller reported the Obama administration has quietly killed an IRS tax-preparation program designed to help low-income and disadvantaged citizens, choosing instead to give millions of dollars to liberal groups for the same purpose.
Also, WND was first to report a State Department-financed non-profit based in Israel was engaged in a major effort to get young Arab citizens to the voting booths in the recent Israeli elections.
In its rewarding of friends, a pattern emerges of nonprofit groups creating a program, pitching it to the White House, the White House accepting it and then handing it over to the very nonprofit that conceived of the idea.
Asked by WND to comment, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, called the Obama administration’s pattern of behavior “yet another profound example of how extreme leftists have conspired to use American taxpayers’ funds for their far-left destructive agenda.”
“Once again, that means that most Americans who are privately paying to preserve and pass on their love for our American heritage to our children are also having money forcibly taken by the federal government to fund those who want to become Castro-led-Cuba, Chavez-led-Venezuela or an anti-Judeo-Christian, Stalin-led-Soviet state,” said Gohmert.
See how taxpayer dollars end up in the hands of left-wing activists:
The congressman also made a reference to the recent disclosure by former top aide David Axelrod that Obama falsely insisted he opposed same-sex marriage for religious reasons in a presidential debate with his Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
“If a senator will knowingly lie in a presidential debate to get elected on a fundamental issue like marriage,” Gohmert asked, “is it conceivable that he would lie about plenty of other things, even deceiving us about how our money is being spent?”
See Matthew Vadum’s recent interview with Bill O’Reilly on the Fox News Channel:
Despite its fabulous wealth, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation was recently awarded $7.5 million in federal funding from the Social Innovation Fund, which is administered by the taxpayer-supported Corporation for National and Community Service, or CNCS.
CNCS was established by Republican President George H.W. Bush in 1993 to oversee three grant programs promoting community service: AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and Learn and Serve America.
In 2009, President Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which reauthorized CNCS and its $1.1 billion budget and created the Social Innovation Fund.
The SIF was established the year after the Democratic Party’s campaign platform advocated the formation of a “Social Investment Fund Network” to provide government funding for “social entrepreneurs and leading nonprofit organizations (that) are assisting schools, lifting families out of poverty, filling health care gaps and inspiring others to lead change in their own communities.”
The three-year, $7.5 million grant for the Silicon Valley Community Foundation is earmarked for a local program in California called “The Big Lift Social Innovation Fund.”
The new program, according to the foundation, “seeks to address the troubling reality that in San Mateo County, 42 percent of third graders are not reading at grade level.”
The foundation said the figure “rises to a shocking 60 percent of Latino, African-American and Pacific Islander third graders. Education experts agree that third-grade reading proficiency is one of the best predictors of academic achievement in subsequent years. If a child is behind in reading by the end of third grade, it is likely that he or she will never catch up.”
SVCF notes that it may qualify for an extra $9 million for a fourth and fifth year, assuming Congress finds the program successful.
“Along with our lead partners, the County of San Mateo and the San Mateo County Office of Education, we at SVCF are proud of the trust the federal government has placed in us to put the county’s children on the road to success,” said Erica Wood, chief community impact officer for the foundation.
The Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which typically gives grants to nonprofit organizations working in the fields of health, education and the environment, also funds controversial causes.
And even though it is performing work for the government, the foundation is far from ideologically neutral.
‘Building community’ through Media Matters
Since 2008, the foundation has given $931,000 to Media Matters, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit headed by former conservative journalist David Brock, who is now leading the charge for Hillary Clinton’s yet unannounced presidential campaign.
The declared purpose of the nine grants was for “building community,” according to SVCF’s IRS filings.
It is unclear which community the Silicon Valley Community Foundation is hoping its grants to the divisive Media Matters group will help to build.
Media Matters, according to critics, is about tearing down conservatives, not about “building community.” The self-described media watchdog ferrets out what it calls “conservative misinformation.” In the process, it slavishly defends figures on the political left such as Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber and former top IRS official Lois Lerner, who led the division responsible for obstructing the applications for non-profit tax status of conservative groups.
Media Matters even has its critics on the left.
The New York Times describes Media Matters as a “highly partisan research organization” in a Nov. 1, 2008, article.
David Folkenflik of National Public Radio says Media Matters is staffed by hairsplitters.
“They’re looking at every dangling participle, every dependent clause, every semicolon, every quotation to see if there’s some way it unfairly frames a cause, a party, a candidates that they may have some feelings for.”
Republican polling expert Frank Luntz calls Media Matters “one of the most destructive organizations associated with American politics today.
“They are vicious. They only understand one thing: attack, attack, attack.”
Other left-wing organizations funded by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation include: Tides Center and Tides Foundation ($2,546,888 since 2005), Planned Parenthood and affiliates ($2,007,950 since 2005), (Jimmy) Carter Center ($1,346,500 since 2007), Center for American Progress ($1,696,000 since 2007), Center for Responsible Lending ($275,000 since 2009), ACLU ($204,075 since 2005), Center for Constitutional Rights ($106,500 since 2007), People for the American Way Foundation ($90,000 since 2010), Clinton Global Initiative ($59,000 since 2011), New Organizing Institute ($20,000 in 2012), National Immigration Forum ($15,000 in 2012) and Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence ($6,950 in 2012).
So how did the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which doesn’t represent the political proclivities of most Americans, get its hands on federal money?
Federal bureaucrats get to decide which groups and proposals are funded by the Social Innovation Fund. SIF creates a kind of artificial civil society, one designed from above by elites. It focuses on three areas that are hard to define with precision: “economic opportunity, youth development, and healthy futures.”
In practice, it means that bureaucrats and grant recipients propose more government spending and bigger government as solutions to more or less all problems.
It also means SIF uses taxpayer money to help groups hostile to the interests of taxpayers. Even worse, many of these groups want to remake society along radical left-wing lines.
It is possible that the Corporation for National and Community Service and its Social Innovation Fund could play a role in President Obama’s recent proposal to allow students of any age to receive two years of free instruction at a community college.
Students would qualify provided that they maintain an average of at least “C+” and go to school at least half-time and are making “steady progress” toward a degree.
“What I’d like to do is to see the first two years of community college free for everybody who’s willing to work for it,” Obama said in a video posted Jan. 8 by the White House. “It’s something we can accomplish, and it’s something that will train our workforce so that we can compete with anybody in the world.”
Obama’s proposal has been dubbed “America’s College Promise.” It is unclear how the program would be paid for.
Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, said fiscal details will be included in the president’s fiscal 2016 budget proposal.
Munoz said Obama wants to make college “the norm in the same way high school is the norm now.”
Munoz is a veteran radical left-wing community organizer. Before working in the Obama White House, she was senior vice president for the Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation at the National Council of La Raza, America’s largest Latino racial grievance organization.
The federal government has been funding radical left-wing activist groups since the War on Poverty got underway in the 1960s. As reported in “Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts Are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers,” published by WND Books, the massive Johnson initiative gave taxpayers’ money to community groups so they could “agitate against the status quo.”
In a sense, according to its critics, America declared war on itself and funded leftist groups to do the fighting.
The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, the EOA, “provided for job training, adult education, and loans to small businesses to attack the roots of unemployment and poverty,” according to one historical source.
EOA-created programs still exist, including VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America), now known as AmeriCorps VISTA, Job Corps and Head Start.
The EOA introduced a doctrine known as “maximum feasible participation.”
The idea was that the government-funded groups spawned by the law were supposed to try to involve the poor in activism aimed at changing society.
The idea had “revolutionary implications” because “it involved a redistribution of power,” according to the famed sociologist Lillian B. Rubin. “The idea of ‘maximum feasible participation’ has captured the imagination of the urban poor, with the force of an idea whose time has come; it will not die,” Rubin predicted in 1969.
In everyday practice, “maximum feasible participation” meant encouraging more people to receive government benefits such as welfare, said the late conservative political activist Howard Phillips, who during the Nixon administration headed the Office of Economic Opportunity, a now-defunct office created by the EOA.
“The way to fight poverty in their view was to expand government subsidies to elements of the population,” he said in a 2010 interview.
Government spending programs gave money to local groups as political patronage.
“What OEO did was fund some 10,000 organizations employing several hundred thousand people who worked to radically transform the policies of the United States without reference to either elections or congressional action,” Phillips said.
This, in turn, stimulated demand for more government spending as taxpayer dollars became a kind of ever-increasing subsidy for big-government activism.
Not surprisingly, Obama is committed to making the CNCS and the Social Innovation Fund ever larger than ever.
Matthew Vadum is a senior editor at Capital Research Center, a Washington, D.C. think tank that studies the politics of philanthropy with a special focus on left-wing advocacy groups. An award-winning investigative reporter, his book “Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts Are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers” was published by WND Books.