Au­thor finds a big-money ‘be­trayal’ be­neath foun­da­tions

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Robert Stacy McCain

AT­LANTA — Phil Kent sits in the spring sun­shine on the pa­tio of a restau­rant in the city’s up­scale Buck­head dis­trict. Over the course of an April af­ter­noon, Mr. Kent will dis­cuss var­i­ous projects with two news­pa­per re­porters and a talk-ra­dio pro­ducer who visit his ta­ble, and will field cell-phone calls from friends, busi­ness as­so­ciates and clients of his At­lanta pub­lic-re­la­tions firm.

“Hold­ing court” is how Mr. Kent de­scribes such oc­ca­sions, com­bin­ing his skills as a press-savvy wheeler-dealer with old-fash­ioned South­ern hos­pi­tal­ity.

“In At­lanta, there’s a lot of busi­ness that’s con­ducted over break­fast, over long lunches and dur­ing happy hour,” says Mr. Kent, a vet­eran news­pa­per­man and com­men­ta­tor. “One of my hob­bies is go­ing to cock­tail par­ties.”

Now, how­ever, Mr. Kent is work­ing on a more se­ri­ous project: ex­pos­ing the in­flu­ence of non­profit foun­da­tions in Amer­i­can so­ci­ety and pol­i­tics.

His new book, “Foun­da­tions of Be­trayal: How the Lib­eral Su­per­Rich Un­der­mine Amer­ica,” ex­am­ines the his­tory and ac­tiv­i­ties of th­ese in­sti­tu­tions that, ac­cord­ing to one es­ti­mate, con­trol $500 bil­lion in com­bined as­sets.

“There have been a lot of books writ­ten on politi­cians and me­dia and their im­pact on Amer­ica,” Mr. Kent says, “but there has been vir­tu­ally noth­ing writ­ing on Amer­ica’s private, tax-ex­empt foun­da­tions.”

The ma­jor foun­da­tions such as Ford and Carnegie con­sti­tute “a vir­tual in­vis­i­ble gov­ern­ment,” he says.

“They are the con­sul­tants to the chang­ing of Amer­ica,” Mr. Kent says. “The last se­ri­ous ef­fort at con­gres­sional over­sight of th­ese so­called char­i­ta­ble groups was in the 1950s. They have been in­creas­ingly run­ning amok ever since.”

For nearly two years, Mr. Kent has re­searched In­ter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice records and other sources to doc­u­ment the agenda sup­ported by ma­jor foun­da­tions. Among his find­ings:

The Ford Foun­da­tion, with as­sets of more than $9 bil­lion, has given mil­lions of dol­lars worth of grants to Pales­tinian groups, in- clud­ing some ac­cused of sup­port­ing ter­ror­ism. The foun­da­tion was also “prime un­der­writer” of a Septem­ber 2001 U.N. World Con­fer­ence Against Racism, held in South Africa, where Is­rael was de­nounced as a “racist, apartheid state.”

The en­vi­ron­men­tal move­ment is heav­ily sub­si­dized by ma­jor foun­da­tions. Green­peace, for ex­am­ple, has re­ceived fund­ing from the Rock­e­feller Brothers Fund, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foun­da­tion, the Bau­man Fam­ily Foun­da­tion, the Nathan Cum­mings Foun­da­tion, the Scher­man Foun­da­tion and the Turner Foun­da­tion.

With more than $7 bil­lion in as­sets, the William and Flora Hewlett Foun­da­tion — funded by the for­tune of the co-founder of the Hewlett-Packard com­puter com­pany — has made grants to such or­ga­ni­za­tions as the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union (ACLU), the Sex­u­al­ity In­for­ma­tion and Ed­u­ca­tion Coun­cil of the United States, and “pro-il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion” groups in­clud­ing the Mex­i­can Amer­i­can Le­gal De­fense and Ed­u­ca­tion Fund.

Ge­orge Soros’ Open So­ci­ety In­sti­tute, with as­sets of more than $300 mil­lion, has sup­ported the ACLU, the Na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Women and the “pro-il­le­gal alien” Na­tional Im­mi­gra­tion Fo­rum.

Mr. Kent cred­its Dis­cov­erTheNet­ — a Web site started by con­ser­va­tive ac­tivist David Horowitz — with in­spir­ing his book. “I got fired up read­ing [. . . ] how this foun­da­tion money is be­ing poured into anti-Amer­i­can­ism,” he says.

While there are con­ser­va­tive foun­da­tions, Mr. Kent says, their as­sets and do­na­tions are a frac­tion of the lib­eral foun­da­tions.

Be­yond con­cerns over po­lit­i­cal ac­tivism, how­ever, bil­lions of dol­lars “that could be go­ing for the bet­ter­ment of Amer­ica’s health and ed­u­ca­tion sys­tems” are be­ing wasted by th­ese tax-ex­empt groups, Mr. Kent said.

“This con­cern should cut across all par­ti­san and ide­o­log­i­cal lines,” he said.

Mr. Kent traces his in­ter­est in pol­i­tics back to el­e­men­tary school, when, he says, “my dad handed me a Barry Gold­wa­ter for pres­i­dent but­ton to wear” dur­ing the 1964 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. He con­tin­ued to be in­volved in pol­i­tics at the Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia, where he served as state chair­man of Young Amer­i­cans for Free­dom.

For nearly a quar­ter-cen­tury, Mr. Kent worked for the Au­gusta (Ga.) Chron­i­cle, in­ter­rupted only by a two-year stint (1981-82) as press sec­re­tary for Sen. Strom Thur­mond, South Carolina Repub­li­can.

Af­ter serv­ing two years as pres­i­dent of the South­east Le­gal Foun­da­tion, in 2003 he founded Phil Kent Con­sult­ing in or­der to “be my own boss,” he says.

In ad­di­tion to sev­eral cor­po­rate clients, Mr. Kent is also a con­sul­tant to Ar­ling­ton-based Pro English (which ad­vo­cates English as the of­fi­cial U.S. lan­guage) and to Mon­terey, Va.-based Amer­i­cans for Im­mi­gra­tion Con­trol. He is a reg­u­lar pan­elist on “The Ge­or­gia Gang,” an At­lanta pub­lic-af­fairs TV show, and has ap­peared on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC.

“Jour­nal­ism opened a lot of doors for me,” Mr. Kent says. He has in­ter­viewed the past five pres­i­dents — Jimmy Carter, Ron­ald Rea­gan, Bill Clin­ton and both Bushes — and counts among his friends for­mer House Speaker Newt Gin­grich, for­mer At­tor­ney Gen­eral Ed­win Meese and for­mer Sen. Zell Miller.

“Net­work­ing and friend­ships have got me where I am to­day,” he says. “Since I moved to At­lanta in 2001, I’ve packed in 15 years of nor­mal net­work­ing into five.”

Af­ter hold­ing court for sev­eral hours at the Buck­head restau­rant, Mr. Kent said his farewells, ex­plain­ing that he has been in­vited to a party that evening and he wouldn’t want to miss Don­ald Trump.

From the book cover

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