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WASHINGTON — A study by the Capital Research Center reveals that at least 18 of the nonprofit organizations that sent representatives to a Jan. 9 meeting to organize the left-wing opposition to Attorney General-designate John Ashcroft have received federal tax dollars.
At least seven of the groups fighting the nomination of Interior Secretary-designate Gale Norton also have taken federal tax dollars. Two groups are on both lists.
Capital Research Center President Terrence Scanlon told Human Events that, technically, these groups cannot use federal funds to fight cabinet nominees.
“But that money’s fungible,” he said. “With that government grant money, it frees them up to fight.”
Meanwhile, the groups likely to favor Ashcroft generally do not receive federal funds — even if for no other reason than they are philosophically averse to going on the dole.
“Conservative groups don’t get government money,” Scanlon said. “They don’t ask for it and don’t get it.”
Capital Research examined four funding years — 1996 to 1999 — in the Federal Assistance Data System as well as the Form 990s that nonprofits must file with the IRS. Eighteen of the nonprofits in question received money in at least one of those years, and at least seven of those received money every year. All told, the federal grants received by these groups add up to almost $150 million. The 1999 total was $45 million.
Among the federally funded groups opposing Ashcroft, the U.S. branch of Planned Parenthood received $27 million in taxpayer money in 1999, a big boost from the $11 million it received in 1998. The group got $9 million in 1997 and $10 million in 1996.
The National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems received $7 million, $13.5 million, $6 million, and $15 million in those years, respectively. The NAACP received $728,000 in ’99, $357,000 in ’98 and $68,500 in ’97. The National Education Association received about $1 million annually.
Other groups opposing Ashcroft who received tax dollars include: American Bar Association, AFSCME, Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, Feminist Majority Foundation, National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium, National Black Women’s Health Project, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, National Council of Jewish Women, NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Sentencing Project, Sierra Club and Youth Law Center.
“In the interest of public disclosure, it is important to determine where nonprofit organizations receive their funding,” Scanlon said. “It is important for the public to know how major players in the public policy arena are funded. Many of the most prominent groups involved in the debate over Ashcroft’s nomination to one of the most important posts in the federal government are recipients of millions of dollars in taxpayer money.”
The Capital Research Center is a Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group that monitors nonprofits and philanthropic organizations, particularly in regard to their political activities.
The Physicians for Social Responsibility and six environmentalist groups that are fighting Norton received a total of almost $2.5 million in federal grants between 1996 and 1999, according to CRC. The Natural Resources Defense Council received $275,000 in 1999, $491,000 in 1998, $192,000 in 1997 and $836,000 in 1996.
Other Norton opponents cited by the Capital Research Center for receiving federal funds include the American Oceans Campaign, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the Earth, Sierra Club (which is also working against Ashcroft) and Wilderness Society.
“I don’t know,” said Scanlon when asked if he thought President Bush and the Republican Congress might cut off funds to left-wing groups. “We’ve been writing about this since 1983.”
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