31 May 2007 Let Greenpeace Live Up to the Standard it Has Set
As we have not yet received an answer from Greenpeace about our challenge, husband David has sent a letter to Greenpeace Executive Director John Passacantando:
May 30, 2007Mr. John Passacantando
702 H Street, NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20001
Greenpeace recently made the outrageous and defamatory charge that my organization is “still on the payroll” of the ExxonMobil Corporation because it received a grant from the company in 2006 (http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/news/exxonsecrets-2007).
Perhaps you allow donations to influence your positions on public policy issues. We do not.
Since you’ve raised the issue of public disclosure of grants in a manner critical of others, we believe you should lead by example. That’s why I’m challenging you to a very high standard for transparency. If Greenpeace will publicly disclose its donations exceeding $50,000, we will do the same.
If $50,000 is too cumbersome for you, we can set the trigger at $100,000. If you think it’s too high, we can go down to $25,000.
Let me be clear on what I mean by transparency:
A complete list of donor names, gift amounts and purposes of all gifts (corporate, foundation and individual) received directly or indirectly and meeting the trigger criteria. Listing donors as “anonymous” is not acceptable as full disclosure.
All donations received by Greenpeace, Inc., the Greenpeace Fund, Inc., Greenpeace International, Greenpeace Vision Fund, Inc. and Greenpeace national offices worldwide. I note that in 2006, the Greenpeace Fund, for which you also work, contributed over $3.6 million to Greenpeace, Inc.– equal to about 23% of the group’s expenditures last year. Such transfers not only help obscure the true source and nature of contributions, but also the amount spent on fundraising, administration, and salaries, artificially raising the percentage of your budget spent on programs. This transfer alone would have raised your program spending by over 6% through smoke and mirrors. Not exactly trying to clear the high bar on public disclosure, are we, John?
All indirect donations. For example, Greenpeace, Inc. and the Greenpeace Fund, Inc. received a total of $343,000 through the Tides Center (an appropriately named institution as its principal function appears to be to launder money to hide the true source of funds).
As you know, information about ExxonMobil’s grants have been publicly available from multiple sources: the corporation’s annual World Giving Report, the ExxonMobil Foundation’s 990, and from disclosures from groups such as ours (for just one example, see http://www.nationalcenter.org/PRExxonMobilRockefellerSnowe1006.html) revealing such funding.
Greenpeace, so far, has not met this standard of transparency.
Please let me know by close of business June 4 whether you accept our challenge. At that time we can discuss specific timelines, triggers, and other details.
This is an opportunity for you to show whether Greenpeace is green…
…or just yellow.
Thank you for your prompt reply.
David A. Ridenour
I believe the letter speaks for itself. We’ll see if Greenpeace is willing to live by the standards it seeks to set for others.
If any of the other major environmental organizations have made public a list of all their major donors, according to the standards set above, they should feel free to e-mail me about that fact. I would be happy to sing their praises for doing so here on the blog.
P.S. Apparently responding to our Greenpeace challenge, and the hyper-environmentalist DeSmogBlog’s botched attempt to defend Greenpeace, a correspondent named Sasha has written me four times this past week, hoping I will post his/her comment.
Since it is so important to you, Sasha, here it is:
I just eye-balled Greenpeace’s list, and they appear to list about 800 donors. It looks like about 100 (and 3 of the 14 big gifts) of those are anonymous. I’m no expert in NGO fundraising, but I think that’s a pretty normal fraction of anonymous givers. As a point of comparison, what fraction of the National Center for Public Policy Research’s donors are listed as anonymous? And, if there are anonymous donors, under what circumstances would the NCPPR disclose information about those donors?I ask because I’d imagine that, for a minority of donors, anonymity is crucial to their giving process. If NGOs of all flavours required every donor to identify themself, I fear there would be a significant reduction in donations to charity.
Greenpeace has taken an aggressive public position that the mere acceptance of a contribution by a charity puts the charity “on the payroll” of the donor. Greenpeace further asserts — falsely, in our experience, but Greenpeace’s may be different — that charities do the bidding of their donors.
Greenpeace is spending tax-exempt dollars “exposing” the names of donors to groups with which Greenpeace disagrees, yet Greenpeace hides the identity of some of its major donors. Since Greenpeace apparently perceives itself as being “on the payroll” of its donors, and believes in “exposing” (although what Greenpeace “exposed” had already been voluntarily and publicly disclosed in multiple venues) the names of the donors to other organizations, shouldn’t it fullfill the disclosure standard it has set?
The National Center for Public Policy Research believes institutions should be judged on their quality of their work. Greenpeace believes groups should be judged by the names of their donors. Let Greenpeace live up to the standard it has set.