In desperate need of A CLUe
I heard on the radio that Bill O’Reilly has decided to take on the ACLU. He has a good strategy, which is to look at their finances. If you want to uncover questionable (and sometimes illegal) activities about entities, start looking into their finances. Given my passing interest in the ACLU, this sparked my attention. I’ve stated before that if they changed their position on the Second Amendment, I’d likely become a card carrying member. I’ve changed my mind and have decided that they are basically fanatical bullies who pick on the little people.
For example, they threaten to sue a financially poor county in Georgia that lacked the funds to fight the ACLU because the school listed on their calendar the phrase “Christmas Holiday.” So, rather than spend money on the lawsuit that they couldn’t afford, the school caved and removed the phrase. Never mind that the ‘Christmas Holiday’ is federally recognized and signed into law. They, however, did not threaten larger counties in Georgia who could fund a legal battle.
Another example of the total lack of sense inherent in this fascist organization is supporting the North American Man Boy Love Association. Yes, NAMBLA has a right to say things. NAMBLA doesn’t have the right to say things about how to seduce children and get away with it. And they defend the KKK’s right to spew racist rhetoric.
A quick look at some of their financial data (which you have to get from the Better Business Bureau because the ACLU doesn’t provide them on their site) reveals some interesting things:
There are two organizations, the ACLU and the ACLU Foundation. The ACLU is a 501C4 company (which means that contributions to it are not tax deductible since it engages in lobbying) and the ACLU Foundation is a 501C3 company and contributions to it are deductible since the entity engages in charitable work. Per the ACLU, the reason for this difference is:
. . . because the ACLU engages in substantial legislative lobbying, which cannot by law, be supported by tax-deductible funds. The ACLU Foundation, on the other hand, conducts our litigation and communications efforts, and contributions to it are tax-deductible.
This arrangement, though not illegal, is certainly questionable since it would likely be easy to find instances of intermingled funds.
The BBB and O’Reilly had trouble getting the ACLU’s financial statements. Non-profits are required by law to provide copies upon request of their Form 990 (basically a tax return for non-profits). Apparently, the ACLU wouldn’t give out their annual report. This could indicate that they’re hiding something. The 990 and financial statements are separate animals, but disclose almost the same information.
The BBB has standards for rating charities. The ACLU Foundation (the charity portion) was evaluated as not complying with the following BBB standards:
A1: Soliciting organizations shall provide on request an annual report. The annual report, an annually-updated written account, shall present the organization’s purposes; descriptions of overall programs, activities, and accomplishments; eligibility to receive deductible contributions; information about the governing body and structure; and information about financial activities and financial position.
The Alliance requested, but did not receive, a current annual report from the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation.
B1: A reasonable percentage, at least 50%, of total income from all sources shall be applied to programs and activities directly related to the purposes for which the organization exists.
According to its audited financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2001, ACLU Foundation spent $15,777,568, or 36%, of its total income ($44,030,434) on program expenses.
B2: A reasonable percentage, at least 50%, of public contributions shall be applied to the programs and activities described in solicitations, in accordance with donor expectations.
According to its audited financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2001, ACLU Foundation spent $15,777,568, or 37%, of its total public contributions ($42,393,279) on the programs and activities described in solicitations.
Why is the ACLU hiding its financial statements from the BBB and O’Reilly? Maybe they have something to hide. Of course, a request for their tax returns must be met or the ACLU will face penalties.
And the ACLU will apparently sell their member list to other non-profit companies.
The ACLU is very profitable (which is easy to do since they are not using their funds to support programs but to increase net assets). In 2001, the ACLU had $23,913,145 of income in excess of expenses. Most of their funds go to increasing net assets and not any sort of charitable work. What are they using these profits for? I could speculate they use those profits from its charity side to fund its lobbying side. I don’t know if that is the case. The lobbying portion made $1.3M as well. Defending our rights is a profitable business.
I hope that O’Reilly’s assault on the ACLU results in them not engaging in such strong arm tactics against poorer entities; and in the ACLU supporting causes that are morally correct. The ACLU should have distanced itself from NAMBLA for appearance’s sake if nothing else.
If that happens, maybe they can work on the Second Amendment thing.