Fiorina Foundation Fibs

A number of media and Internet sources are pouncing on the idea that Carly Fiorina personally funded Planned Parenthood:

From the Daily Beast:

Carly Fiorina’s Mystery Foundation

The Fiorina Foundation is run by an organization that has distributed funds to Planned Parenthood. Oh, and the Fiorina Foundation doesn’t appear to exist.

Carly Fiorina is so opposed to Planned Parenthood, which she believes is “pushing women into late-term abortions so they can more successfully harvest body parts,” that she would shut the government down in order to prevent it from receiving any federal funding. But she doesn’t oppose Planned Parenthood enough, it seems, to care if the organization that controls the Fiorina Foundation, her mysterious charity outfit, also distributes funds to the group—nearly half a million dollars since 2011.

And another example, from Fortune:

How Carly Fiorina’s foundation is associated with Planned Parenthood

Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina has placed defunding Planned Parenthood at the center of her campaign, but the organization that controls her charitable organization, the Fiorina Foundation, has given nearly half a million dollars to the group since 2011, according to the Daily Beast.

The publications says Fiorina’s charitable foundation is in fact not a foundation at all.

And a lefty blogger is confident that this revelation will end Fiorina’s campaign:

The “Fiorina Foundation” Doesn’t Exist and Her Campaign Didn’t Know It

Carly Fiorina claims she served as chairman of the charitable Fiorina Foundation after being disgraced at Hewlett-Packard, but that so-called foundation is so secretive Fiorina’s presidential campaign didn’t know about it.

It’s secretive in the sense that it isn’t real.

One more example:

Carly Fiorina Foundation Gave $467,275 To Planned Parenthood Through Group That Runs It

Carly Fiorina claims to be against Planned Parenthood. In fact, she has made it a staple of her campaign. She is currently on a mission, urging Republicans to defund the organization and hold the annual fiscal budget hostage. She cites, among other things, that taxpayers and the government shouldn’t have any role in abortions.

Well, that, we already knew. An investigative piece from The Daily Beast has unearthed new information that Carly Fiorina’s Foundation, run by The Ayco Charitable Foundation, has collectively donated $467,275 to various Planned Parenthood’s through 2011 through 2013.

THIS IS BIG.

Big?

Yes, BIG NEWS, they all claim. “Big lies” would be more correct. Here’s what is really going on:

In 1999, Carly Fiorina was a highly successful executive of AT&T and then its spin-off Lucent. She was approached by Hewlett Packard to take over their ailing tech company, and offered a multi-million dollar signing bonus. HP had spent many months looking at lots of possible CEOs, and decided on Fiorina as the best fit. So, Carly Fiorina joined HP as CEO, and suddenly had a large chunk of cash that she wanted to see doing some charitable good.

AYCO handles the affairs of high net worth clients. (My life has been interesting enough that at one time I was a client of AYCO’s.) AYCO supports this charitable work by managing funds through their non-profit AYCO Foundation. The foundation collects a fee, and sets up a segregated foundation fund for each client charity. They accepted her donation and set up a donor-advised fund for her, just as they do for their other clients.

The Way It’s Done

This is common enough. Not only investment managers, but community foundations also provide this “donor-advised fund” management service. The funds are called foundations, although they don’t have their own separate staff. That’s what the management fee pays for. For example, the GoPro founders’ foundation:

The Woodmans said they had transferred about 5.8 million shares of GoPro to the community foundation on Tuesday to start a new donor-advised fund they are calling the Jill + Nicholas Woodman Foundation. The gift caught investors by surprise and drove the GoPro share price down.

You can find thousands of others easily enough. There is nothing shady nor suspicious about this at all. And it is worth mentioning that Carly Fiorina can’t retrieve her donation; it is permanent. She can, depending upon her agreement with AYCO, give some advice and suggestions about what charitable causes should be funded, hence the name “donor-advised fund.”

I currently am an officer on a non-profit board, and am involved with non-profits, donor-advised funds, and community foundations. At the moment, I am drafting an agreement for such a fund to be managed by a community foundation. This is all quite ordinary stuff. A typical investment foundation or community foundation will have dozens of funds, with each one uninvolved in the giving of the others. The donors generally cover the spectrum of political leanings, or have no interest in politics, and thus the advised charitable gifts are likely to be very different depending upon the donors’ wishes and goals.

So what’s the big deal?

The news pundits here are attempting to tie Carly Fiorina to gifts made to Planned Parenthood by other donor advised funds that AYCO manages. This is absurd. It’s like not shopping at a grocery store when you learn that a KKK member bought groceries there. The AYCO Foundation has other conservative clients, and has liberal clients, and everyone in between. Their job is to put the funds of each donor to work according to the wishes of that donor. The wishes of the other donors to their own funds do not reflect anything about this process for a given donor.

The community foundation I am currently dealing with has very conservative donors as well as extremely liberal ones, each with their own foundation fund and each donating to different causes. Some announce their causes — I get multiple emails a week from these folks and a variety of quarterly and annual reports — and some don’t say anything about their activities. But just because the donors are using the same community foundation to manage both funds, no one makes the mistake that the very conservative X fund is donating to the very liberal Y’s causes.

Or shouldn’t make that mistake, anyway. AYCO reports its donations in the aggregate, and the number mentioned in the stories above represents the fact that the AYCO Foundation’s funds, all lumped together, gave about one-half of a percent of their total giving to Planned Parenthood in 2011. In other words, under $500k out of more than $80 million in charitable giving.

Disclosure?

The media is pouncing on this, as if Carly Fiorina gave this money herself or ordered it done. She did not. Reporters demanded to see a list of organizations that the Fiorina Foundation did give to, and she refused. I would too. These people would attempt to cause trouble for any organization that Fiorina helped, launch boycotts against them, or find some other way to do damage. She does not have to disclose her donations, and should not.

But the insinuations or flat statements that you see that the Fiorina Foundation gave money to Planned Parenthood are simply false.

So then you have to decide for yourself whether the reporters are too ignorant to know that they are wrong, too lazy to find out the truth, too afraid to dig into the details of a story that sounds so good to them, or are knowingly promoting a story that they know is false. I imagine that you can find cases in each category in the various attackers visible now.

More Media Lies

The media outlets are piling on Carly Fiorina now, which means that the left is very afraid of her. In a sense, that is good news.

And the worst they’ve been able to dig up so far have been distortions or outright false representations by the media, such as the outrageous notion of a fact-checker giving Fiorina a “three-Pinocchio” rating because she said that she’d gone from secretary to CEO. Why was she lying? Why did they call the story “bogus”? Because “the description that Fiorina went ‘from secretary to CEO’ glosses over several other key details,” the Washington Post asserts. In other words, she didn’t mention what she’d done in between, including being a salesperson and getting an MBA. The Washington Post has been roundly trashed for this, but they’ve stood their ground. Carly Fiorina is too dangerous to them to let the truth be a barrier to their attacks.

It is particularly unfortunate that some conservatives have been fooled into attacking Fiorina as well, just as the Left was hoping.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

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