Once again we present the words and research of Vivian Krause. Ms. Krause has recently been published in the Vancouver Sun & Financial Post newspapers, and is one of Canada's leading experts on the funding of environmental activist groups. Her research takes her closer to home with this instalment concerning the payments from charitable foundations to individuals and companies associated with Vision Vancouver.
Charity is important. Food banks, shelters and other charities need all the help they can get.
No politician should stoop to taking money that should go to charity.
Fair questions need to be asked about whether Vision Vancouver indirectly got a substantial amount of campaign funding from the Endswell Foundation, a registered charity that is closely affiliated with Tides Canada and the U.S. Tides Foundation.
According to tax returns, the chair of Tides U.S. and the vice-chair of Tides Canada is the same person: Joel Solomon. U.S. tax returns show that since 1997, Joel Solomon has also been a paid employee of Endswell. Between 2006 and 2008 alone, he was paid $518,891, U.S. tax returns say.
The Vancouver Sun reports that Joel Solomon and his associates brought $330,000 to Vision Vancouver, including 1) $70,469 from Renewal Partners, an "investment firm" where Joel Solomon is president, and 2) $83,314 from Strategic Communications, a P.R. company which says that it is a "partner" of Renewal Partners. These two contributions alone came to $153,783 - a sum of money that could have made quite a difference in the 2008 election campaign.
Between 2004 and 2008, staff at Renewal Partners, were paid salaries by Endswell - to the tune of $1.9 million, according to U.S. tax returns. Would Renewal Partners and Strategic Communications have been able to afford to contribute $153,783 to Vision Vancouver if salaries and who knows what else weren't paid by Endswell?
But if charity money had been used to fund Vision Vancouver, how would we know? That may be part of the problem. The sr. vice president of the Endswell Foundation, Martha Burton, is also the treasurer of Vision Vancouver and the Sr. Vice-President at Renewal Partners. U.S. tax returns show that between 2007 and 2008, Ms. Burton's salary nearly doubled from $72,036 to $135,325.
One of the campaign finance contributions to Vision Vancouver was a total of $6,000 from Interdependent Investments Ltd: $5,000 in 2008, and $1,000 in June of 2010. The B.C. Company Summary says that the president of Interdependent Investments Ltd. is Joel Solomon and that the secretary is Martha Burton.
Calculations based on U.S. tax returns show that between 1997 and 2008, the Endswell Foundation paid $1,200,948 to Interdependent Investments. Why a charity paid $1.2 million to an "investment" company whose only two officers were also the two most senior employees of the charity, that's another matter.
The Endswell Foundation is an integral part of the Tides network which is heavily funded by foreign interests - huge, U.S. foundations and a hedge fund billionaire. My research, published recently in The Financial Post and The Vancouver Sun, finds that Tides Canada and Tides U.S. have funded at least 36 organizations that campaign against Alberta oil.
U.S. tax returns and other public records indicate that since 2000, Tides Canada has been granted nearly $57 million by U.S. foundations. Four of these foundations alone have assets of about $22 billion. They give away about $1.2 billion every year. If they decide to thwart an industry or sway the course of a municipal election, they might be able to.
Recently, even President Obama expressed concern about foreign interests swaying the outcome of the mid-term elections in the U.S. "This is a threat to our democracy. The American people deserve to know who’s trying to sway their elections," he said. The same goes for Vancouver.
Without any delay, Mayor Gregor Robertson should investigate and clarify whether any Vision Vancouver campaign finance may have originated from a registered charity.
- post by Vivian Krause. Please read: Copyright Notice & Disclaimer. For more details and the open letter to Mayor Gregor Robertson on which this post is based, please click here. For more of Vivian's research visit www.fair-questions.com.