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Make Green, Not Peace
by Daniel Sargis
25 March 2004

According to a recent report, Greenpeace illegally funnels tax-exempt contributions into taxable program activities.


Hey Eager Pence...don’t wish for some things too much because you just might get them. But since the les enfants terrible of Greenpeace have, yet again, withdrawn into their insulated world of enviro-erotic make-believe, let’s give them what they are asking for...an understandable translation of the anagrams in which Greenpeace is forever speaking.  It is now their “Time for Truth.”

During Saturday’s halftime entertainment at a London anti-war protest, two trolls climbed London’s Big Ben clock tower and unfurled a banner which read “Time for Truth.”  The stunt was organized by the Enron of the environmental world, Greenpeace.  Executive director of Greenpeace UK, Stephen Tindale, explained that, “We want to send a clear message...that we...are fed up with the half-truths and evasions....”  Well Stephen, the U.S. taxpayer couldn’t agree with you more.

Greenpeace has been described as “the grand-daddy of environmental direct action”...a protest oriented variant of the innovative Lockheed “skunk-works.”  And it is little different from any multi-national corporation...especially those under criminal investigation.   

Based in the Netherlands, Greenpeace International has 41 national subsidiaries, an estimated $50 million in annual revenues and world-wide tentacles.  The U.S. subsidiary, “GreenpeaceUSA,” is an umbrella for the Greenpeace Fund Inc. and Greenpeace Inc..  According to Michael Hardiman, former executive director of Public Interest Watch (PIW), “Greenpeace is cheating the taxpayer by accepting tax-deductible contributions, and then, misusing the funds... in the simplest of terms, Greenpeace is engaging in a form of money laundering.”

PIW has published a very comprehensive research report detailing Greenpeace’s misdeeds and used this report as the basis for a complaint to the I.R.S. requesting a review of Greenpeace’s tax-exempt status. 

PIW finds that “Greenpeace is organized as a series of related entities not dissimilar from the various subsidiaries of the Enron empire. But in this case, the related entities are not used to conceal losses; instead, they are used to illegally funnel tax-exempt contributions into taxable program activities.”  This is the same tax-avoidance shell game played by the Tides Center and Tides Foundation, as exposed in “Bush Ads in HeinzSight.”

Here’s how the scam works.

Greenpeace, Inc. “is a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organization, which means it is free to lobby and engage in other advocacy activities but may not accept tax-deductible contributions.”  It is primarily funded by non tax-deductible donations from individuals and grants from the Greenpeace Fund, Inc..  The “Greenpeace Fund, Inc.," is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, meaning that it can accept tax-deductible contributions, but that it cannot engage in lobbying or advocacy activities.”  

Greenpeace, Inc. is the “direct action” arm of the GreenpeaceUSA organization.  “Direct action” is an amalgam of Greenpeace’s legal and illegal “advocacy” strategies. These include lobbying, trespassing on both private and government property, destroying both private and government property and apparently protesting the war against terrorism.  Advocacy is an I.R.S. permitted activity for Greenpeace, Inc., but not for The Greenpeace Fund, Inc., which “must by law devote its resources ‘exclusively’ to charitable purposes, which include education, but not advocacy.”

Probably as a result of watchdog groups, the Greenpeace Fund amended its “Statement of Organization’s Primary Exempt Purpose” in 2003, “To protect and preserve the environment through the consideration and funding of grants (emphasis added) to other organizations."  Not coincidentally, the PIW report states that “...Greenpeace Fund, Inc., does nothing other than raise money for non-501(c)(3) organizations....”  And based on this, PIW contends that this “...demonstrates conclusively that it is simply a clearinghouse to launder charitable funds to non-exempt organizations.”

Of the $8.7 million in revenue the Greenpeace Fund reported in its 2002 I.R.S. Form 990, about $7.7 million was funneled straight to other Greenpeace non-501 (c)(3) organizations. 

You, the taxpayer, subsidize this reputed “money laundering.”  In return for your subsidies, Greenpeace delivers to you:

(1) “Four Greenpeace activists were detained by Spanish authorities after tying themselves to the mast and anchor of a ship they accused of carrying wood procured from illegal logging;”

(2) “Five protestors were arrested at a government research farm in Manitoba, after they padlocked gates to the government research facility and unfurled signs from the roof;”

(3) “Greenpeace activists rallied at Exxon Mobil headquarters, blocking the entrance and climbing onto the roof. Dozens were arrested;”

(4) “The Greenpeace ship, Rainbow Warrior, was raided by Spanish police after blockading a U.S. – Spanish naval base in protest of the war in Iraq;”

(5) “Greenpeace blockaded a cargo ship, in the Netherlands, loaded with U.S. military equipment, which the group claimed was bound for Iraq;” and

(6) two trolls scaling the face of Big Ben.

Of course, playing “fast and loose” with the tax code is not unique to Greenpeace.  The Tides Center and Ramsey Clark’s International ANSWER, among many others, play this same game on laundry day. 

The lax I.R.S. compliance standards, oversight and enforcement for 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporations allows, and even enables, this taxpayer theft.  Although it may not be palatable for many politicians who just love using taxpayer subsidies to build these special interest voting blocks, and “direct action” political operatives, the time is long overdue to clean the pollution from the non-profit sector.

Or, you could just let them keep taking your green and living in peace while you work half of your life just to pay your taxes.  A “Time for Truth” indeed!

Daniel Sargis, a freelance writer, is a principal in a private investment development company.  His website is dansargis.org
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