tags: , Press Releases

Miller’s Support for White Supremacist Groups Puts Spotlight  on the Foundations and Donors Who Fund Them

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“Giving money to these groups is furthering the spread of dangerous ideas…” – Heidi Beihrich, SPLC

Over 900 emails exchanged between White House senior advisor Stephen Miller and an editor at Breitbart (before and right after Miller joined the Trump campaign), indicate the extent to which Miller is beholden to the hard-right philosophies of white supremacy, xenophobia and hate. His world-view is grounded in white nationalism, eugenics and “race science” and he has shaped President Trump’s policies on all manner of issues related to immigration, ethnicity and race (see America’s Voice report). 

In response to the release of the emails published over the past several weeks by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) organized a letter from 27 Senators, released today, that calls for Miller’s removal and says Miller is “unfit to serve in any capacity at the White House.” Earlier, more than 100 House Democrats and an array of religious and civil rights organizations have called for Miller’s removal.

Now, the focus is also turning to the foundations and donors who fund the web of anti-immigration white nationalist and hate groups that Miller draws from and promotes from within the White House.

  • Earlier this year, the New York Times ran a lengthy exposé on philanthropist Cordelia Scaife May, heir to the Mellon bank fortune, and the charities and foundations she funded, which form the nucleus of America’s anti-immigration causes and organizations. These include the Pittsburgh-based Colcom Foundation and almost immediately, there was fallout.
  • The Pittsburgh City Paper reported that Tiedemann Advisors, a wealth-management firm that consulted on Colcom’s hundreds of millions of dollars in assets, dropped the Colcom Foundation as a client because of the revelations about the objectives of Scaife May and her connections to xenophobia and eugenics.
  • Also earlier this year, a group of charities, philanthropic institutions, donor advised fund providers, and individual philanthropists put together a guide for funders on how to avoid funding nativist hate groups, spearheaded by the Amalgamated Foundation under the banner “Hate Is Not Charitable Campaign.” 

Donor advised funds in particular accrue substantial benefits to donors because of tax write-offs and the ability to make donations anonymously. Essentially, donor advised funds allow individuals to launder the money going to hate groups through the good name of reputable charitable institutions. In a press release announcing their coalition of donors, the campaign states:

Promoting hatred is the opposite of public good. Donor Advised Fund providers should filter out hate. Policies and procedures that screen out hate groups should become a standard part of charitable due diligence…Donors of conscience should take a stand against hate. We call upon donors of conscience to demand their donor advised fund providers enact policies to ensure charitable resources do not flow to hate groups, or to move their donor advised funds to a provider who is willing to do so. Hatred is the opposite of charity.

Now, with all of the renewed attention on the xenophoic extremists driving Stephen Miller and the White House, the pressure is growing on donor advised funds and other foundations and charities. These include the Foundation for the Carolinas and Fidelity Investments Charitable Gift Fund because of their financial support for far-right anti-immigration groups. 

Foundation for the Carolinas

Under the headline “Major Charity Finances Anti-Immigrant Hate Group Tied to Stephen Miller,” Sludge senior investigative reporter Alex Kotch writes about the controversy enveloping the Foundation for the Carolinas, a community foundation based in Charlotte, NC. 

The Foundation for the Carolinas says it “supports the needs of immigrants” but gave $1.9 million to the Center for Immigration Studies, which promotes white nationalist ideas, from 2015-18.

The story builds on a letter America’s Voice wrote in August calling out the Foundation on their funding of the network of organizations founded by eugenicist and white supremecist John Tanton, who passed away earlier this year. Web ads from America’s Voice also made the point that the Foundation is funding hate.

An investigative piece by the Charlotte Observer last week and local coverage in the Charlotte Agenda about the seeming inconsistency of a foundation heavily engaged in funding organizations serving Charlotte’s immigrant community on the one hand, yet making substantial donations to anti-immigrant hate groups like the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), on the other. 

The reaction in Charlotte’s Latino community has been confusion and disappointment, even from those who receive funding from the Foundation for the Carolinas. According to the Charlotte Agenda, Sil Ganzó, who runs OurBRIDGE, a program for child refugees and immigrants who’ve recently moved to the United States, she is conflicted: 

I cannot overstate how great and consistent Foundation For The Carolinas’ support has been to OurBRIDGE from the beginning. However, I am an immigrant, my entire family belongs to the immigrant community, and I personally believe that supporting the proliferation of any anti-immigrant group is dangerous and counter to everything we are, everything we do, and everything we believe in as a community. I find the (FFTC’s) position of neutrality highly problematic as it puts our neighbors and families at risk.

Fidelity Investments Charitable Gift Fund

Sludge’s Kotch reports that the “nation’s biggest charity,” Fidelity Investments Charitable Gift Fund, a charity affiliated with Fidelity Investments, is under scrutiny for donating more than $100,000 to New Century Foundation, the organization behind white nationalist publication American Renaissance. Among other things, American Renaissance and its leader Jared Taylor have played a substantial role in propagating myths about black on white crime. Kotch reports:

On the pages of his magazine and those of the conservative National Review, Taylor laid out his false argument: “The United States has neither a unique ‘culture of violence’ nor inadequate gun laws. It has a high rate of violent crime because it has a large number of violent black criminals.”

Life & Death Consequences

It is important to note that racist murderers like Dylann Roof, who killed nine at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, SC in 2015 were motivated by fear of black on white crime and had been radicalized by hate groups, as Sludge’s Kotch notes.

The El Paso Walmart shooter, who targeted “Mexicans” and killed 22 in August, was animated by the “invasion” of Latino immigrants that groups like FAIR and CIS point to as the cause for many – if not all – of America’s problems. He penned a manifesto so close to things the anti-immigrant groups had written themselves, it caused Mark Krikorian to weakly distance himself from the shooter, telling the Washington Posts David Nakamura in August: 

If you have a guy who is going to be angry about immigration, have a killer offering reasons for shooting up immigrants, how could he not use reasons that have already been articulated by legitimate sources?” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of CIS, who called the online document “remarkably well-written for a 21-year-old loner.

For Heidi Beihrich, a veteran tracker of anti-immigrant, racist, and nationalist groups for SPLC, funding such groups comes at a high moral cost. She told Sludge’s Kotch

Giving money to these groups is furthering the spread of dangerous ideas—some of the worst that mankind has come up with and that have led to violence and even genocide. It is shameful.