The George Soros (OSI) / Jim Wallis (Sojourners) Funding Cover-up
Non story really but I like it when people cover up connections, even go to the lengths of scrubbing their site and are busted for outright lying.
Quote:Why Is Jim Wallis Denying that He Receives Grants from Deep-Pocketed Leftists like George Soros?
August 17, 2010 4:03 PM
By Jay W. Richards
In World magazine on July 17, Marvin Olasky called on “progressive evangelical” Jim Wallis to come clean and admit that he is not a non-partisan, as he likes to claim, but rather a devoted man of the Left. Olasky reported that Wallis’s organization, Sojourners, had received grants from George Soros’s foundation, the Open Society Institute (OSI), and had lent Sojourners’ mailing list to the Obama campaign.
Now, it isn’t news that both Sojourners and Wallis are friends of the Left; I explored the connections in my book Money, Greed and God, and others have connected the dots as well. But were Wallis and Sojourners actively involved with secular left-wing mega-donors and with the election machinery of the Left? After reading Olasky’s piece, I decided to look into the charges, and I now strongly suspect that Olasky is onto something that merits further inquiry.
Among the documents I now have are pages from the OSI website that list two grants to Sojourners — one for $200,000 in 2004, “To support the Messaging and Mobilization Project: Engaging Christians on the Importance of Civic Involvement,” and one for $25,000 in 2006, “To support a branding assessment” for the purpose of merging “Sojourners and Call to Renewal into one organization.” I have physical copies of these pages, which is good, because these pages seem to have disappeared from the OSI website (I’m sure that’s just a coincidence).
Still, until a few days ago, all of this looked to me like little more than a left-wing donor, George Soros, funding an organization that is working to sell some part of Soros’s political vision to Christians. That makes sense: Even if Soros is not personally religious, he surely recognizes the importance of reaching the religious segment of the U.S. population. This contradicts Wallis’s claim that he is non-partisan, but it’s hardly a scandal.
But there’s more to it. In two blog posts at Patheos published over the last week, Tim Dalrymple reported that he, too, was looking into Olasky’s charge, and in a thoughtful, unbiased interview published on August 9, he asked Wallis himself about Olasky’s charges.
Before responding directly, Wallis launched into bizarre invective against Olasky, claiming (among other things) that Olasky believes in a “sinless market.” This caricature is practically surreal to anyone familiar with Olasky’s actual views — actually, it’s beyond surreal, since surreal art has some illuminating connection to the original. Olasky is a Calvinist, which means he places particularly strong emphasis on human depravity in every area of human experience, including the market.
It’s not hyperbole or overstatement to say that Glenn Beck lies for a living. I’m sad to see Marvin Olasky doing the same thing. No, we don’t receive money from Soros. Given the financial crisis of nonprofits, maybe Marvin should call Soros and ask him to send us money.
So, no, we don’t receive money from George Soros. Our books are totally open, always have been. Our money comes from Christians who support us and who read Sojourners.
Well, as I said above, I’ve got physical copies of what appear to be grants to Sojourners from the Open Society Institute website, which have since been taken offline. Dalrymple does, too. In fact, until Wednesday, August 11, Dalrymple’s second blog post at Patheos had accompanying PDFs of the OSI webpages.
Alas, as I was writing this piece, the relevant webpages started disappearing. The first one to go was Dalrymple’s second blog post. Then, on the morning of Thursday, August 12, Dalrymple’s first blog post disappeared. The interview itself is still online as of this writing. I can’t say exactly what’s happening, but there seem to be a lot of disappearing webpages.
What to say at this point? At the very least, Wallis has abandoned even the pretense of civil discourse here. Olasky has evidence of Soros grants to Sojourners, so the most that Wallis would be justified in saying is that Olasky is mistaken and that the evidence is misleading or fraudulent (which seems unlikely). Instead, he says that Olasky is lying for a living.
As for Wallis’s denial, notice the verb tense he uses in his reply to Dalrymple: “So, no, we don’t receive money from George Soros” — “don’t.” Perhaps later he will clarify, “Yes, we have received funding from Soros in the past. But we don’t now, in this fiscal year, receive such funding.”
There’s almost certainly more to this story, though. According to Sojourners’ 990s (go here and search for “Sojourners” in “DC”), their total assets went from $513,896 in 2002 to $4,615,468 in 2009. Call me skeptical, but I’d be willing to bet that this windfall didn’t all come from humble readers of Sojourners magazine. If in fact Wallis did get money from Soros and various other left-wing foundations, what I don’t get is why Wallis doesn’t just say, “Sure, we get (or have gotten) money from left-wing foundations. We differ on a few points but agree on a host of important issues.” Instead, we’re getting cagey denials and disappearing webpages.
— Jay W. Richards is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and author, most recently, of Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism is the Solution and Not the Problem.
Quote:Jim Wallis vs. The Truth
More evidence surfaces concerning the George Soros/Sojourners connection | Marvin Olasky
It’s almost an axiom of politics that the cover-up raises more questions than the crime. Ask Chuck Colson about that. In the case of Jim Wallis, oddly enough, we have no crime, but we definitely have had a cover-up.
Quick background: Half-way through a July 17 WORLD column I mentioned that in 2004 Sojourners, Jim’s organization, received $200,000 from billionaire George Soros, a financier of left-wing groups that push for abortion, atheism, bigger government, and other causes. I had a printout of a page from the website of the Open Society Institute—Soros is OSI’s founder, funder, and chairman—showing the grant.
It didn’t seem to me like any big deal: Of course Soros would see the religious left as important in drawing evangelical votes away from a conservative embrace. Of course Jim would take the money in pursuit of his aims. So I was surprised by Jim’s reaction when Timothy Dalrymple, who writes for the Patheos website, asked him about my mention of Sojourners receiving funding from Soros.
Dalrymple asked, “Is there anything wrong with making common cause with the George Soroses of the world?” Jim exploded: “It’s not hyperbole or overstatement to say that Glenn Beck lies for a living. I’m sad to see Marvin Olasky doing the same thing. No, we don’t receive money from Soros.”
Jim kept insisting: “We don’t receive money from George Soros. Our books are totally open, always have been. Our money comes from Christians who support us and who read Sojourners. That’s where it comes from.”
OK, easy enough to defend myself against lying: Ask folks to go to the OSI website and see for themselves. I did—and the record was gone. Cue the Twilight Zone music. Was my printout a forgery? Was I lying?
Happily for me, some other people had been curious about the Wallis-Soros connection. They had seen the $200,000 grant listed on the website before someone apparently scrubbed the site. They had a PDF of it and a PDF of a $25,000 Soros grant to Sojourners in 2006. Dalrymple wrote about this on his website. Jay Richards on August 17 wrote about this for National Review Online, noting “I have physical copies of these pages, which is good, because these pages seem to have disappeared from the OSI website (I’m sure that’s just a coincidence).”
Richards also noted that “until Wednesday, August 11, Dalrymple’s second blog post at Patheos had accompanying PDFs of the OSI webpages. Alas, as I was writing this piece, the relevant webpages started disappearing. The first one to go was Dalrymple’s second blog post. Then, on the morning of Thursday, August 12, Dalrymple’s first blog post disappeared. . . . there seem to be a lot of disappearing webpages.”
Richards concluded, “At the very least, Wallis has abandoned even the pretense of civil discourse here. Olasky has evidence of Soros grants to Sojourners, so the most that Wallis would be justified in saying is that Olasky is mistaken and that the evidence is misleading or fraudulent (which seems unlikely).”
It’s good to be defended, but this was still bothersome. The Open Society Institute did not respond to a phone call asking why its pages were disappearing. So it looked like we were left with Jim’s word against others, including me, plus the evidence—yet people would be unable to look for themselves and see.
What to do? I examined one usually helpful website, Guidestar, but its collection of Sojourners’ IRS Form 990s, which many nonprofit groups need to file, goes back only to 2007. Next, the Foundation Center website: Yes, it has earlier ones, but Sojourners merely had to list revenue from grants, not spell out their origins.
A stalemate? No, wait—the contribution to Sojourners was gone from the Open Society Institute’s website, but what about OSI’s 990-PF for 2004? IRS forms cannot be so readily scrubbed, right? Yes, the Foundation Center website has it. Wow, 283 pages. Let’s dig in. Hmm, lots of income statements, some of them printed upside down. Legal fees. Program-related investments. Expenditure responsibility report—no Sojourners. Grants to other organizations—no Sojourners. Grants to U.S. Public Charities . . .
Yes! On page 225: Sojourners, 2401 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009. To support the Messaging and Mobilization Project: Engaging Christians on the Importance of Civic Involvement. October, 2004. $200,000.
Want to see for yourself what someone apparently did not want you to see? Click here to download the PDF, go to page 225, and you’ll see the grant to Sojourners.
You can also see the 2006 grant by downloading the 990-PF for that year and going to page 125. And by the way, look at page 114 of the 990-PF for 2007: another $100,000 grant to Sojourners “to support the Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform campaign.”
Oh, and save the PDFs of those reports. I don’t think they’ll disappear from the web, but you never know.
Sojourners communications manager Tim King has now acknowledged that Sojourners received funding from George Soros. King released a statement from Jim Wallis in which Jim says he “should have declined to comment” until he had checked the facts. Now that Jim has, he sees there were grants “from the Open Society Institute that made up the tiniest fraction of Sojourners’ funding during that decade—so small that I hadn’t remembered them.”
The first of the three grants, for $200,000, came at a time when Sojourners, according to its 2003 audited financial statement, had “incurred a significant amount of net losses” leading to “a negative asset balance” of $57,324 and had “adopted a strategy to generate additional sources of revenue and to reduce expenditures.” Those phrases are from “Note G” of the audited financial statement, which can be downloaded here, under the heading “Going concern.”
After repeated emails and phone calls, Soros spokeswoman Laura Silber responded to a query from WORLD’s Warren Smith about the disappearance of online records showing the Open Society Institute’s grants to Sojourners. She said the grants did occur but the reason the documents were gone is “pretty simple. We are overhauling our website. That feature was not working well, so we decided to disable it. It won’t be a part of our new site, which is still an ongoing project.” — Marvin Olasky
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