Nonprofits Cut Ties to Libyan Dictator and Family

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March 7, 2011; Source: Wall Street Journal | This Newswire is a brief update on one we published a few days ago about some nonprofits, politicians, and entertainers suddenly discovering that they had uncomfortable linkages to the charitable giving of the family of Libyan dictator, Col. Muammar Qaddafi.

On a day when the Wall Street Journal led with an article about vicious air attacks launched by Qaddafi’s regime against opponents in the nation's third largest city, it also mentioned the continuing effort of institutions to shuck their charitable connections to Qaddafi.

Recently, the London School of Economics came under fire for having accepted money from the Qaddafi's personal foundation, and now the director of LSE has resigned – not just over the donation, but LSE's role in having provided Qaddafi with "economic advice," implying a quid pro quo.

We knew that Benjamin Barber, an academic we have long admired for astute writings on the Middle East, is on the board of the Qaddafi family foundation and provides consulting assistance to the Qaddafi regime. But we didn't know that there was another Barber connection. Barber is a senior fellow at the nonprofit think tank Demos.

The WSJ revealed that, like LSE, Demos had accepted $20,000 from the Qaddafi family foundation for a program on global interdependence. A few institutions in the article had apparently turned down Qaddafi money or, like Georgetown University, accepted a big chunk many years ago but returned it not long afterwards. It is hard to believe that it took Libyan aircraft firing on civilians to tell LSE, Demos, and others that the Qaddafi family was not among the most reputable governmental leaders. It may be time for institutions large and small to spend a little extra effort digging into the sources and provenance of the charitable donations they are offered, and when the money comes from the likes of Qaddafi, turn down the big wads of greenbacks.—Rick Cohen