To most observers, Sean Penn’s fact-finding mission to Baghdad two months ago probably seemed more like a bizarre public relations flop than a cleverly executed political strategy. But then, most observers weren’t its intended audience. Nor were the reporters who covered it, or the pundits who ridiculed it. Without realizing it, these people contributed to the success of Penn’s true mission.
While Penn traipsed around Iraq, leftist grassroots organizers across the U.S. were scrambling. In less than two months, they planned to fill the nation’s streets with thousands of war protesters. To create the illusion of a national groundswell against the war on Iraq, they’d have to quickly energize their troops.
Institute for Public Accuracy Executive Director Norman Solomon, the force behind Penn’s trip, had proven to be an expert at mobilizing those who share his Marxist views long before he founded IPA and opened its Washington press office with a grant from the non-profit Florence and John Schumann Foundation. That foundation is headed by none other than PBS correspondent Bill Moyers. Since then, grants from the Open Society and Solidago foundations, headed by radical leftist billionaire George Soros, have helped to keep its doors open.
Like those who fund IPA, Solomon keenly understands the mentality of the sort of people he energized with Penn’s message, the kind capable of envisioning Saddam Hussein as a misunderstood peasant assassin driven by poverty and repression to murder the controlling Iraqi elites who stood in the way of the socialist (and thus righteous) Baath Party. To them, Penn’s trip was a rallying cry.
But Solomon and IPA have done far more than to merely motivate their troops. Over the last few months, the IPA’s press office has became the central media clearinghouse for the peace movement, building credibility for former socialist and Communist radical organizers now striving to pass themselves off as moderate leaders of – you guessed it – a national groundswell against the war.
Take grassroots labor activist Nancy Lessin for instance. Most reporters in Boston know her as a coordinator for the AFL-CIO and a member of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health who has led successful corporate smear campaigns and legal battles that have resulted in massive fines for area corporations.
With the help of the IPA media machine, Lessin was recently reborn as head of Military Families Speak Out, a group of anti-war parent protesters who have (or claim to have) children in the military. The group, formed late last fall, had limited success at capturing the attention of the media until IPA blast-faxed Lessin’s name and contact info into newsrooms across the nation on January 17. Within two days, a particularly poignant maternal anti-war quote by Lessin was picked up by national newswires and appeared in dozens of daily newspapers across the nation. Since then, Lessin and her group have been regularly quoted in anti-war coverage in American newspapers and abroad.
Naturally, Lessin’s labor credentials were left off the IPA press release, as was the fact that Military Families Speak Out is a coalition member of the peace demonstration organizing umbrella group United for Peace and Justice, chaired by grassroots organizer Leslie Cagan, who has a long history of activism with the American Communist Party and related groups. (IPA has been aggressively pushing Cagan as a source in its press releases as well.)
Along with Military Families Speak Out, "experts" from 10 other groups that form the backbone of United for Peace and Justice have been repeatedly listed as sources on anything remotely Iraq-related in press releases sent out by IPA, which so far has neglected to disclose their interconnected nature. Several of these groups, nearly all of which are funded by the Open Society/ Rockefeller Fund/Joyce Foundation/Solidago network, are also coalition members of Act Now To Stop War & End Racism (ANSWER), a known front group for the International Action Center, which is a known front group for the Stalinist Workers World Party. Both ANSWER and the International Action Center — which is also a member of the United for Peace and Justice coalition — have been the chief organizers of the war protests around the globe.
IPA’s leading role in the peace movement is just one of many it has played during its five-year career at the center of whatever issue the far left and Moyers & friends happen pushing at the time.
Take campaign finance reform for instance. Judging from IPA’s archives, one of the first things Solomon did after opening the doors of IPA’s press office in 1998 was to pump air into Public Campaign, a Schumann grantee headed by Moyers’ son that was created to lead Bill Moyers’ personal crusade for so-called campaign finance reform. It worked. Within a year, Public Campaign came to be considered the leading authority on campaign finance reform by the media.
One can still predict with frightening accuracy the topics Solomon’s press releases will hammer on during any given period by clicking on Moyers’ NOW website and closely following whatever agenda Moyers is subtly pushing in his television interviews and journalistic investigations. One can also check out the Schumann-sponsored American Prospect, whose masthead includes Democratic Socialist Harold Meyerson, or click on TomPaine.com, a Schumann grantee through the Florence Foundation, a nonprofit led by Moyers’ son. It doesn’t matter which one you choose; they all sing in concert.
The same veiled theme that runs through much of what Moyers has to say about America is also eerily present in the messages of IPA and rest of the interconnected leftist machine seeking to shape American public opinion. Moyers described it most succinctly in a speech to the left-wing Environmental Grantmakers Association, a radical anti-corporate environmental networking organization that operates from the office of the Rockefeller Family Fund.
"The soul of democracy has been dying," he said, "drowning in a rising tide of big money contributed by a narrow, unrepresentative elite that has betrayed the faith of citizens in self-government."
Moyers is right. As a member of the narrow, unrepresentative elite group that has spent hundreds of millions of dollars over the last decade trying to ram leftist propaganda down the throats of unsuspecting millions, Moyers and his friends have betrayed the citizens of this country in their battle to advance an anti-capitalist, anti-American agenda so wicked that the "citizens" Moyers refers to would surely reject it outright if they knew the truth.
In a speech a year ago, Moyers bashed the Heritage Foundation for pressuring the Bush administration, on behalf of wealthy bankers, to halt the global campaign to freeze terrorists’ financial assets, a charge later proven to be little more than a figment of Moyers’ imagination.
"How about that for patriotism?" Moyers sneered. "Better terrorists get their dirty money than tax cheaters be prevented from evading national law."
An interesting sentiment, given that several of Schumann’s past and present grantees, including IPA, appear to be flouting tax laws.
In their zeal to manipulate the public, Moyers & Company have gotten sloppy over the past five years. Sure, they’ve built a highly mobile left-wing guerilla army that can be on the ground in any state in the Union in weeks and at the forefront of the national debate on any issue they choose, or create, within months. But in spinning off dozens of new issue-oriented non-profit charities for their minions to run each time they want to make a point, these organizations have skipped a very important step – the one where those charities raise at least a third of their money from individuals in the general public, which is key to keeping their tax status.
Claiming financial support from individual donors allows organizations like the IPA to operate as public charities, which affords them greater lobbying ability and more tax exemptions. Like the IPA, all of the Schumann grantees we analyzed check box 11a on their 990 tax forms, indicating that they qualify for non-private foundation status because their organization "normally receives a substantial part of its support from a governmental unit or the general public."
In reality, the majority of their funding appears to come from a handful of ultra-liberal foundations, a fact that’s relatively easy to hide since tax law only requires them to disclose what they did with their money, not where they got it from. Without subpoena power, tracking that information down means thumbing through hundreds of pages of tax forms from other like-minded liberal foundations to see who donated it.
In a 1999 article in the Third World Traveler, Solomon wrote that "it’s only because of a few funders that IPA has been able to function with appreciable resources." He goes on to explain that grants from the Stern Family Fund and the Schumann Foundation gave IPA its start. Since then, grants from at least eight foundations including Solidago and the liberal Arca, Threshold and New World foundations have kept its doors open.
As the Washington Times recently pointed out, another Schumann grantee, the Florence Foundation, the funder of the liberal TomPaine.com, faces a similar tax law conundrum.
The charade has gone on long enough. Given the growing body of public knowledge about these potential tax law violations, one has to wonder how long it will take the IRS to act.
Because there is typically a lag of at least a year between when grants are doled out by these foundations and when the tax records of non-profit institutions who receive the money become public, by the time the whole truth comes out about who is funding the peace marches, it will be too late. Congress could solve this problem by mandating that these organizations disclose where their money is coming from on a quarterly basis.
If the American people really want what the Schumann Foundation and others like it have to offer, they’ll support the ideas of its grantees with their wallets. For too long, the conservative response to the ideological crusades funded and coordinated by Moyers and his ilk has been to debate these people on the issues. Its time we began publicly questioning where the money behind these campaigns came from and whether it was legally spent.
The public and the media deserve to know who’s behind the garbage they’re being fed.