August 28, 2010; Source: Salon | While the obsession with Glenn Back and Sarah Palin doesn’t motivate us the way it does others in the press, some of the lesser known players wandering past the dais at Beck’s Restoring Honor gathering last week should be of interest to the nonprofit sector if they have questions about the nonprofit values underlying the rally.
One of the speakers was Rabbi Daniel Lapin, nonprofit leader, and friend of Jack Abramoff. Back in the days of disgraced and disgraceful lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Lapin (and his brother) ran a nonprofit called Toward Tradition which served as a funnel for some of the funding from Abramoff’s Indian tribe clients to Ralph Reed’s political operations, got funding from Abramoff’s shady Capitol Athletic Foundation, and helped Abramoff create a religious school in Maryland that received Capital Athletic Foundation moneys and educated Abramoff’s kids [PDF].
Brother David Lapin received a seven-figure no-bid contract from the Northern Marianas government through Jack Abramoff, and by extension Tom DeLay, to teach communities in the U.S. Marianas about ethics in government [PDF]. Lapin is still around issuing political and religious broadsides through his own website and through a nonprofit called the American Alliance of Jews and Christians, which Lapin leads as president (with Lapin and his wife Susan as two of the three board members), but Toward Tradition seems to have bitten the dust.
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The other interesting character at the Beck event was the Rev. John Hagee, who declared Hurricane Katrina “the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans” because it has held a gay pride parade. Certainly Hagee’s Katrina connection on the fifth anniversary of the storm is an interesting blind spot for Beck’s event. For other nonprofits, Hagee’s denunciation of Catholicism as “the great whore” and Islam as a religion with “a scriptural mandate to kill Christians and Jews” puts him at odds with many of the faith-based nonprofits in the nonprofit sector.
Beck positioned his rally as charitable, not political, benefiting a charity that helps special operations military vets and their families. It’s unfortunate that two of his high profile speakers don’t have necessarily admirable track records in their relationships with or representation of the nonprofit sector.—Rick Cohen