Things Go Better with Koch. George Mason University wants its university foundation board to be exempt from Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act. But Transparent GMU, a student group, has sued the foundation to turn over records of agreements with private donors, in particular those from the conservative-libertarian Charles Koch Foundation. University officials have conceded that agreements with the Koch organization had strings attached giving it input into the hiring of faculty associated with its gifts. A circuit court judge sided with the university last summer. Now the case has made it to the Virginia Supreme Court. Oral arguments were heard yesterday, reports the Virginia Mercury.
The case raises legitimate legal issues, as described in the article. But as a matter of public policy, it seems evident that university foundations, which administer billions of dollars for public Virginia universities, are integral components of the institutions, and their activities are closely coordinated. I side with Transparent GMU and say that GMU’s foundations — indeed all public college foundations — should be subject to FOIA.
Of course, I also say that Transparent GMU also should be more, well… transparent. The student group’s Facebook page reveals nothing about where it gets its money. It’s highly unlikely, however, that a bunch of students could afford to appeal the case all the way to the state Supreme Court. Where did Transparent GMU’s money come from? There is probably a connection with UnKoch My Campus, a well-funded organization devoted to dogging the Charles Koch Foundation around the country. But UnKoch My Campus is itself less than fully transparent about where its money comes from. Time for a little less hypocrisy and more transparency all around.
What does ACRONYM stand for? ACRONYM, a self-described political organization “committed to building progressive power and creating sustainable digital infrastructure for the progressive movement,” has donated $150,000 to the Democratic Party of Virginia, reports The Washington Free Beacon — tied for the largest single donation the party has received this year.
Writes the Free Beacon:
As a nonprofit, a majority of ACRONYM’s funds must be used to promote “social welfare.” However, the group has a web of for-profit companies beneath it including a “campaign consulting firm (Lockwood Strategy), a political tech company with peer-to-peer texting product (Shadow) and a media company investing in local left-leaning outlets (FWIW Media).
The group was founded by Tara McGowan, a 30-year-0ld Democratic strategist who in 2017 coordinated 100% of the digital advertising for Governor Ralph Northam’s gubernatorial race. So, where does ACRONYM get its funding?
The Washington, D.C.-based organization takes donations through ActBlue Civics software, which enables Democrats, progressive groups, and nonprofits to raise money over the Internet. These contributions are not tax deductible, advises the ACRONYM website. Is there also big money behind ACRONYM? Good luck finding out. If the nonprofit has filed a 990 form, it does not yet appear in 990 form search results. If there is big money behind ACRONYM, that money is being recycled anonymously to the Democratic Party of Virginia. The Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) reports ACRONYM’s $150,000 contribution to the DPVA but has no data on where ACRONYM’s money comes from.There are currently no comments highlighted.