Irony: Far-left ThinkProgress Takes Foreign Funds, But Media Yawn

May 20th, 2011 9:37 AM

In October of last year, the far-left blog ThinkProgress alleged - with exactly zero evidence - that the Chamber of Commerce was illegally using money collected from foreign corporations to fund its American political activities. The charge was breathlessly repeated by major media outlets, including the New York Times and MSNBC.

Well it turns out that the Center for American Progress Action Fund, the organization that runs ThinkProgress, itself takes money from foreign sources.

Surely CAPAF has adequate controls in place to prevent money acquired from foreign donors from being funneled into its electioneering activities (right?), but it was ThinkProgress itself that mere months ago was demanding that the Chamber reveal its own inner workings to hostile political observers to prove such constraints existed. A number of media personalities, most notably MSNBC's Chris Matthews and Ed Schultz and the folks at the New York Times editorial board, were happy to play along with the baseless smear campaign.

The Center for Competitive Politics unearthed ThinkProgress's breathtaking hypocrisy in a Thursday blogpost, first noting an excerpt from a Politico article on donations from wealthy Bermudans to liberal American political groups.

The Atlantic Philanthropies has emerged in recent years as a key, quiet funder of the institutional left, providing the money behind, among other groups, the health care outfit Health Care for America Now.

The organization has kept a low profile in part because its funder, duty-free shopping magnate Chuck Feeney, doesn't appear particularly interested in pubicity. Feeney's foundation is a giant donor in a number of regions around the world, including Northern Ireland; but he and the Atlantic Philanthropies are based in Bermuda, with the consequence that -- through a quirk of tax law -- they can freely finance the 501(c)4 organizations that play in politics, which American family foundations can't do.

The CCP did some digging, and discovered some very interesting facts about Atlantic Philanthropies.

Bermuda is a British territory, meaning this is a foreign entity. And if we're going to go full-on xenophic [sic] about it, it should probably be noted that the company founded by Feeney (and therefore is the origin of the funds given away by Atlantic Philanthropies), the Duty Free Shoppers Group, was started in and retains its headquarters in Hong Kong, once upon a time a British territory and now under control of the Chinese government.

So, which U.S. based organizations do the foreign-based and foreign-funded Atlantic Philanthropies support? The foundation helpfully provides a list and a searchable database, and it turns out that the highly political Center for American Progress (CAP) and Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF) received $1,653,000 in five separate grants in 2008 and 2009, most of that going to CAPAF.

Well isn't that ironic. In short, we can allege that the Center for American Progress Action Fund uses foreign money to influence elections with precisely the same amount of evidence provided by ThinkProgress in its accusation that the Chamber was doing the same.

So why aren't Ed Schultz and Chris Matthews and the New York Times editorial board all over the story? As of Friday morning, none of them had even mentioned these latest revelations.

Surely they were truly concerned with the integrity of US elections, and weren't just using ThinkProgress's smear as a cudgel against Republican-friendly political groups. That would make them simple shills for the Democratic Party, but Chris Matthews has already informed us that his show is "totally nonpartisan," so that can't be the case.

Since the Times and MSNBC are most certainly not mere extensions of the Democratic Party - though they should feel free to correct us on that score if we're mistaken - we'll expect to see these same commentators demand ThinkProgress divulge the means by which they prevent foreign money from financing their electioneering activity. If they don't, well, you can draw your own conclusions.