Since being drummed out of the Obama Administration, former alleged Communist and 9-11 Truther Van Jones has embraced his inner-leftist. Not just the progressive, can’t-everyone-just-be-equal emotional stuff, but the ugly all-opposing-opinions-should-be-silenced strain of the lefty condition. His organization, Color of Change and its “parent,” Citizens Engagement Laboratory, are engaged in an aggressive months-long campaign to silence conservative opinion, beginning with the nearly 40-year-old organization ALEC. Sadly, it appears this intimidation campaign is being funded by the “respected” Ford Foundation.
For those of you who don’t know, ALEC is a membership association of state legislators. Comprising both Republican and Democrat legislators, ALEC conducts research and promotes free-market economic policies and individual liberty. In addition to state legislators, a number of businesses and associations are also members to provide their perspective on various policy issues. It’s these members that Van Jones is targeting for intimidation.
Kerry Picket at The Washington Times reported last month that Van Jones’ organization was running paid radio ads against select businesses which were associated with ALEC. The ads essentially blamed ALEC, the bread and butter of which is government reform and deregulation, for the killing of Trayvon Martin. (ALEC’s members have a long history of supporting 2nd Amendment rights.) It is an absurd claim, but the intimidation from Van Jones has caused some businesses to drop their support of ALEC.
It is an understatement to say it’s unorthodox for a non-profit to buy commercial advertising to attack the supporters of another non-profit. Such activities are very expensive and don’t fit comfortably within the supposed “social mission” of tax-exempt non-profits. It is even more unusual that such activities would be funded by an organization like the Ford Foundation.
Jones’ group was, until recently, a relatively small operation. In 2009, its total budget was just over $300,000 a year. In 2010, Ford made its first donation to Jones with two gifts totalling over $800,000, pushing its 2010 budget to over $1,000,000. In 2011, Ford made an even larger gift of $1,000,000 to Jones. Months later, Color of Change started its expensive campaign against ALEC. It is the only significant campaign being undertaken by Color of Change. In other words, there is nowhere else for Ford’s money to go but the intimidation campaign.
But, Ford’s role in the campaign against ALEC is probably even larger than that. ALEC is under attack from a loose coalition of 7 organizations: Color of Change, Common Cause, Center for Media and Democracy, Progressive States Network, People for the American Way, Brave New Foundation, and State Voices. In 2010/2011, Ford Foundation gave these organizations almost $6 million in grants. For most, it was the first time they received funding from Ford.
Over the past few years, the public has become increasingly opposed to the left’s policy proposals and ideas. The left’s response has been to silence opposing voices, whether it is the well-publicized “SWATing” of conservative commentators or the orchestrated attacks on organizations like ALEC.
It’s a sign that conservative voices are winning. The Ford Foundation’s apparent underwriting of Van Jones’ attacks, though, is a sign of how far the institutional left will go to force their ideas on America. They need to be called to account.
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DISCLOSURE: I worked at ALEC for a few years almost a decade ago.