Last week, I wrote a critical profile/expose of Gerald Steinberg, founder of NGO Monitor. I wanted to add some new information that documents the financial opacity and fundraising irregularities on behalf of the organization in the U.S. For several years, groups going by the name of American Friends of NGO Monitor and REPORT have filed IRS 990 reports about fundraising activity on its behalf. The last 990 indicates about $1.2-million was raised in the most recent filing year, 2012.
REPORT maintains its own rudimentary website which lists a few more donors than NGO Monitor’s own website. Electronic Intifada has also reported in 2010 on foundations that were hitherto known. Among them are Daniel Pipes’ Islamophobic Middle East Forum, which donated $100,000 in 2010 (this donation is not listed among NGOM’s Israeli charity filings as is required under Israeli law); Seth Klarman, hedge fund manager and major donor to the David Project and the Israel Project, donated $75,000 in both 2010 and 2011; Paul Singer, another GOP hedge fund manager and major donor to the Manhattan Institute, donated $100,000 in 2011; the Koret Foundation, one of American Jewry’s wealthiest and most Islamophobic philanthropies donated $25,000 in 2010; the MZ (Myron Zimmerman) Foundation donated $60,000 in 2010; the Ben & Esther Rosenbloom Foundation donated $70,000 between 2009-2011.
As an Israeli charity with a U.S. support group, NGOM must file reports with the IRS (it should also file in every state in which it raises money, but doesn’t do that) and the Israeli charity registry, Amuta. Comparing the Amuta filing for NGO Monitor to IRS 990s for REPORT reveals numerous discrepancies and questionable financial record-keeping that may involve violations of Israeli and U.S. regulations.
For example, NGO Monitor’s website acknowledges the critical role played by Dore Gold’s Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs in the founding of NGO Monitor. However, it does not specify what financial role JCPA played in this. But reviewing the Israeli filing shows that an entity called the “Center for Jewish Community Studies” made the largest contributions of any donor to NGOM. CJCS is the U.S. support and fundraising arm for JCPA.
Between 2007-2010, it donated over $1-million to NGOM, making it by far the largest individual donor. In 2010, CJCS donated nearly $300,000 according to CJCS’ IRS 990 report. Amuta filings show that in 2007 CJCS donated $150,000 but didn’t report it on its 990 form at all. In 2008, the Amuta reports showed CJCS donated $400,000 to NGOM. There are two donations listed on the IRS 990 form which do not correspond to the $400,000 reported to Amuta. The latter reports NGOM received $300,000 from CJCS in 2009, but the two disbursements listed in its IRS 990 do not correspond to this amount.
One of the most tantalizing donor-facts involves a mysterious 2010 donation of $25,000 from the Orion Foundation. NGOM requested that the identity of this donor be kept secret in order to protect the donor’s identity. Amuta denied this request. The Orion Foundation is a company registered in the Isle of Man, a notorious tax-haven for those seeking to hide their sometimes ill-gotten gains from various tax authorities. One director of the company, Richard Scheinberg, is a dual Israeli-Irish citizen. It is entirely possible (though by no means proven) that an Israeli citizen, using such a surreptitious means of donating to an Israeli charity, may do so in order to shield his assets from Israeli authorities. So much for NGOM’s vaunted transparency!
Another eye-opening development is that non-profits must be registered charities in states in which they raise money. NGO Monitor’s support group is based in New Jersey (which is the locale listed in the IRS 990 as well) and it receives donations at the same Cherry Hill, NJ address. That is where they should be registered. Here’s the relevant state regulations:
Charitable organizations and professional fund raisers based, operating or soliciting within New Jersey must register with the Division of Consumer Affairs Charities Registration Section…
But a search under “NGO Monitor,” “REPORT” and various permutations turned up no charity registration with the relevant state agency. I confirmed this by calling the Division of Consumer Affairs. I have written to REPORT asking if they are registered. If true, this indicates yet another example of NGO Monitor ignoring inconvenient legalities. Further, EI reported that the IRS warned NGO Monitor that its failure to file timely 990 reports could endanger its non-profit status.
REPORT is registered as a charity in the state of Florida. But it receives no publicly-acknowledged major donations from that state.
The NGO that claims to demand accountability and transparency from Israeli NGOs offers none regarding its own finances and political activism.