Crony Philanthropy

The Manhattan Institute's Anthony Paletta writes at The Wall Street Journal about the Council of Foundation's conference last week in Denver. Describing the "tone of mutual congratulation" between the Obama White House and liberal statists in attendance who have overrun the formerly "independent" sector, Mr. Paletta's piece almost made me feel the slobber of the love fest he attended.

Mr. Paletta describes the current focus of leftist-statist philanthropists as "‘transformative change' and political advocacy, including work with the Obama administration." Leftwing nonprofits wholeheartedly see themselves as a "partner" with not just big government, but especially with this President, including playing a "huge role" in implementing Obamacare and other job-killing, anti-free market measures already passed or that are in the Pelosi-Reid legislative queue.

The conference featured a panel on the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, which freed corporations, including nonprofits, to make independent political expenditures advocating the election or defeat of candidates. The panel unanimously condemned that decision. As explained here, Citizens United actually helps nonprofit organizations, particularly the smaller ones.

It is not lost on Mr. Paletta, nor should it be on the rest of us, the irony of The Council on Foundations' attacking "vast amounts of resources to political causes, [while] argu[ing] for greater levels of political engagement in philanthropy."

A little over a year ago I wrote how nonprofits would be a cornerstone to the Obama agenda, particularly with more politicians sending taxpayer money to nonprofits such as the quasi-defunct ACORN, Planned Parenthood and many, many others. The problem may be worse than I thought. That's partly because President Obama has demonstrated he's as much a partisan statist as some had feared, and worse than most had thought.

Long ago we entered the period of crony philanthropy in which politicians finance their friends in the nonprofit community and buy political support using taxpayer money. We now are moving rapidly toward a nonprofit sector dominated by statists, socialists and even a few Marxists. More and more, they use taxpayer money to push an agenda that reduces freedom, kills jobs, and even threatens the independence and integrity of the nonprofit sector itself.

As the crony relationship between big government and big philanthropy becomes more well know, how long will it be before Americans lose faith in, trust in and respect for the nonprofit sector?