Alex Kotch is an independent investigative journalist focused on money in politics, and he’s been published by over 20 outlets including VICE.com, Salon, PR Watch, AlterNet and DeSmog. He was part of the investigative unit at International Business Times, where they won a Society of American Business Editors and Writers Best in Business award for our coverage of the 2017 Republican tax bill. Follow him on Twitter @alexkotch and see more of his work at alexkotch.com
The nation’s eighth-largest public charity is pouring tens of millions of dollars each year into a number of mostly anti-LGBT hate groups, a Sludge investigation shows.
According to the three most recent available tax filings—which cover 2015-17—it has donated $56.1 million on behalf of its clients to 23 nonprofits identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as hate groups.
“I certainly don’t know of any public disclosures of funds to hate groups at levels anywhere near this,” Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, told Sludge. “It’s pretty astounding and certainly concerning.”
The far-right evangelical National Christian Foundation (NCF), which offers Christian donors “expert guidance and creative giving solutions,” is the fourth-largest donor-advised fund by 2017 revenue in the U.S., having raised over $1.5 billion that year. Such funds offer individual accounts to their clients, allowing clients to get immediate tax breaks on donations to these accounts and to direct NCF to disperse the money to the nonprofits of their choice, mostly churches and other Christian nonprofits, at their own pace. Clients donate through donor-advised funds anonymously, so even the Internal Revenue Service won’t know their identities.
According to a 2017 Inside Philanthropy article, NCF “is probably the single biggest source of money fueling the pro-life and anti-LGBT movements over the past 15 years.” In 2017, NCF’s donation to anti-LGBT, anti-Muslim, and anti-immigrant hate groups rose to over $19 million.
By far the biggest recipient of NCF donations is Alliance Defending Freedom, a large network of Christian extremist lawyers who have supported criminalizing homosexuality, sterilizing transgender people, and claimed that gay men are pedophiles. The group recently came out against congressional Democrats’ Equality Act, which would ban discrimination against LGBTQ Americans. Read more via Sludge