I recently got a chance to check out the Form 990 PF financial filing of the Ford Foundation for the year beginning Oct. 1, 2005 and ending Sept. 30, 2006. In 2004, the Ford Foundation gave a $150,000 grant to help subsidize the Democracy Now! Productions alternative media enterprise.
It turns out that as of September 30, 2006 the Ford Foundation's $12 billion dollar stock portfolio included:
526,500 shares of Halliburton stock, worth $14.9 million;
710,854 shares of Chevron stock, worth $46.1 million;
314,424 shares of Caterpillar stock, worth $20.6 million;
2,103,362 shares of ExxonMobil stock, worth $141 million;
530,000 shares of Aetna Insurance stock, worth $20.9 million;
463,663 shares of Boeing stock, worth $36.5 million;
606,006 shares of United Technologies stock, worth $38.3 million;
8,749 shares of Raytheon stock, worth $420,039;
3,186,694 shares of Time Warner stock, worth $58 million; and
415,596 shares of Wal-Mart Stores stock, worth $20.4 million, etc.
Ironically, when Democracy Now! aired its show about the Gates Foundation article of L.A. Times reporter Charles Piller on January 9, 2007, which it titled "Report Gates Foundation Causing Harm With The Same Money It Uses To Do Good," Amy Goodman apparently forgot to mention that the Ford Foundation that gave her media group $150,000 in 2004 was also engaged in unethical practices. Following is a portion of the transcript from that 1/9/07 show which indicates how Amy Goodman spun the issue of tax-exempt foundations that help fund alternative media groups also investing in anti-humanistic corporations:
AMY GOODMAN: Charles Piller, we only have a few minutes, and you’ve done such extensive reporting here. I want to get to a number of the cases you cite, but the issue of the firewall, the kind of, I think it's called, blind-eye investing, the Gates Foundation pouring money into these philanthropic endeavors, yet at the same time are pouring money into investments in these polluting corporations.
CHARLES PILLER: Yes. I think the fundamental issue here is that American foundations, because of tax laws, generally give away about 5% of their net assets every year. And this allows them to avoid most taxes. The other 95% is invested. It's invested in a wide range of securities, stocks, bonds. And the reason why a wide range is used is that obviously a prudent investor wants to protect their investment.
Now, the issue that we found is that the Gates Foundation established a firewall between the people who manage its investments and the people who give away its grants, and as a result, there is no coordination made so that the investments don't tend to contravene the grants and the charitable goals of the foundation. And so, as a result, what we found is that the 95% that's invested every year, in large measure, tends to go to industries, to companies that not just may be doing some harm, because, frankly, a lot of companies do harm in the world, and it's a difficult thing to police at times, but they go to companies that in many cases directly engage in activities that tend to subvert the charitable goals of the foundation, not just in the pollution angle.
But we found, for example, $1.5 billion approximately in foundation investments in pharmaceutical companies whose practices tend to price their AIDS drugs out of reach of the very people that the Gates Foundation has decided are its highest priority to help: AIDS victims in the developing world who can only afford a very meager price for AIDS drugs, but are unable to afford the drugs from companies that the Gates Foundation is making hundreds of millions of dollars in profit from
AMY GOODMAN: Charles Piller, we have less than two minutes. And in your second piece, you begin your piece, “Gates Foundation Invests in Firms Accused of Abuses,” about a couple, Cheryl and Jeff Busby, and Ameriquest. Please quickly describe that story.
CHARLES PILLER: Yes, well, one of the highest priorities for the Gates Foundation has been service programs within the Pacific Northwest, their home. And, in particular, they've attacked homelessness and housing instability as a key goal. What we found is that, as the Gates Foundation is giving tens of millions of dollars to assisting people in unstable housing and poor people who need help and homeless people, they are also invested to the tune of well over $2 billion in companies that are in what’s called the sub-prime loan industry.
Now, this is an industry that is designed to serve people who have less-than-perfect credit and still want to be homeowners. But this industry has been rife with abuse for many years, and as a result, many of the investments are contributing to the financial well-being of the Gates Foundation and to the companies that have been implicated widely in abuses of lending that have resulted in people losing their homes, thousands and thousands of people losing their homes all throughout the Pacific Northwest and throughout the country.
The Busbys are one example of that, a poignant example because Cheryl Busby works for an agency that was given donations by the Gates Foundation, in part to counsel victims of predatory lenders, victims of the sub-prime industry. And this same -- the company that was a predator in their case, Ameriquest, was implicated as a predator in their case, is also a company that the Gates Foundation is profiting from as an investor.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to have to leave it there. Charles Piller, Los Angeles Times reporter -- two-part series on the Gates Foundation -- I want to thank you very much for being with us. We’ll certainly link to it at our website, democracynow.org.
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