To be sure, our system of philanthropy makes it easy for left-wing donors to hide their connections to someone like Kimberlin. The Tides Foundation is a case in point. Tides was set up as public charity that receives money from donors and then funnels it to the recipients of their choice. Because many of these recipient groups are, like JTMP, quite radical, the donors often prefer not to have their names publicly linked with the donees. By letting the Tides Foundation, in effect, launder the money for them and pass it along to the intended beneficiaries, donors can avoid leaving a paper trail. Such contributions are called “donor-advised,” or “donor-directed,” funds.
It should come as no surprise that a number of JTMP’s funders use this very approach. Pressed on its financial support for an extremist like Kimberlin, one donor, Schwab Charitable Funds, protested that its funds “are cause-neutral, and exist to facilitate the charitable giving of their clients.” At the same time the fund, a charitable arm of brokerage giant Charles Schwab, stressed that its “grants do not in any way reflect the views or perspectives of Schwab, Schwab Charitable or the management of either organization.” So it goes: Radicals like Kimberlin get their money, and the true identities of his funders remain hidden. Meanwhile, patently political foundations can claim a tax-free status that depends on their eschewal of political activity.
That Kimerblin’s group counts leading foundations among its financial backers is also an indication of the extent to which so-called progressive foundations have shifted their funding to the far left. The Tides Foundation has led the way in this leftward shift. Tides operations include the richest and most venerable philanthropies, among them the Rockefeller Foundation and its Rockefeller Family Fund, the Ford Foundation, and the Carnegie Corporation. In a profound historical irony, these onetime symbols of American capitalism now dispense their endowments to the anti-capitalist agitators Occupy Wall Street.
There are conservative foundations, too, of course, but they cannot match the resources of their counterparts on the left. With over $100 billion in tax-exempt assets at their disposal, left-wing foundations have been able to invest massively greater amounts in their beneficiary groups than have their political opposites. In splashing their cash, these foundations have not balked at sponsoring groups helmed by political radicals and extremists, so long as their political causes are congenial. Just ask Brett Kimberlin.