Monday, December 24, 2012

A Storied Past Turns Into A Dubious Future For A Charity

by Gary Snyder


The American Council on Science and Health’s noble mission is to release scientific reports that debunk health scares on food, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, and it was once known among conservatives as a voice of reason. 

Unfortunately it is a bank account for a select few.  The group spent $1.03 million of its $1.35 million in revenue from July 1, 2010, to June 30, 2011, on employee compensation and benefits but failed to list specific projects in its tax forms.  It released only two publications this year. Two staffers were given $40,000 bonuses “based on revenue and performance,” although the nonprofit earned $1 million less than the previous year in 2009.

ACSH stopped revealing its donors in the 1990s after it was denounced as a manufacturers’ front group. In the 1980s, it admitted at least a third of its funding came from corporations including Dow Chemical, Shell Oil, Coca-Cola and Eli Lilly. 

 It trumpets an outdated board of 350 scientific advisers — many of whom are retired or dead — on its Web site and fund-raising videos. Kenneth Green of the Canadian think tank Fraser Institute was on the list against his wishes. The still-listed Dr. Charles Gallina, a nuclear physicist, died seven years ago. Addiction expert Dr. Morris Chafetz and Penn State agriculture professor Dr. Christopher Raines both died last year.

ACSH’s medical director Gilbert Ross was convicted of Medicaid fraud and served nearly four years in a federal slammer. He got back his license to practice medicine in 2004.

A former chairman, who is a Kansas physician, said he resigned from the group in 2009 after arguments over staffing and leadership became “intolerable.” One former board member told The New York Post. “Now you’d be foolish to give them money.”

Nonprofit Imperative gathers its information principally from public documents...some of which are directly quoted. Virtually all cited are in some phase of criminal proceedings; some have not been charged, however. Cites in various media: Featured in print, broadcast, and online media outlets, including: Vermont Public Radio, Miami Herald, National Public Radio, Huffington Post, The Sun News, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Wall Street Journal (Profile, News and Photos), FOX2, ABC Spotlight on the News, WWJ Radio, Ethics World, Aspen Philanthropy Newsletter, Harvard Business Review, Current Affairs, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, St. Petersburg Times, B, USA Today Topics, Newsweek.com, Responsive Philanthropy Magazine, New York Times...and many more Nonprofits: On the Brink (2006) Silence: The Impending Threat to the Charitable Sector (2011)
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