Charities and Politicians Toxic Together

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November 15, 2010; Source: Times-Picayune | Once again, a politician’s linkage with a nonprofit results in an odiferous dynamic. In Louisiana, a publicly funded nonprofit for underprivileged youth—the Jefferson Sports and Scholastic Foundation—run by a Jefferson Parish councilman, appears to have fallen short of some basic tenants of nonprofit ethics and accountability.

The nonprofit couldn’t (or wouldn’t) provide documentation for several hundred thousand dollars worth of expenditure, including $100,000 owed to a firm owned by a member of the state legislature. A state audit identified $96,000 in the nonprofit’s expenditures that seemed to lack a business purpose, such as $1,950 for a country club membership and $8,800 for a Florida golfing trip.

No surprise, but some of the Councilman’s relatives also got paid by the nonprofit. The litany of alleged transgressions is pretty compelling in contrast to the pathetic responses of the pols involved, including the state legislator who called the criticism of the nonprofit—and of him—a “travesty.”

For us at NPQ, it’s more of the same old story. Over the years, we’ve written a number of articles on charities linked to politicians. Their stories rarely turn out positive, to put it mildly. Whether in Congress, in the state legislature, or local government, the combination of politicians and charities is almost always toxic.—Rick Cohen