How Truthful are the Bush Foundation’s Assertions About Their Sponsors?

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March 10, 2013

Patricia Levesque wrote in January that 90 percent of FEE’s cash comes from philanthropic organizations. But the numbers don’t add up.


By: Bob SIkes – Scathing Purple Musings

As part of a response to a Mississippi public school advocate in January, Foundation for Excellence in Education CEO Patricia Levesque wrote the following:

(Nancy) Loome notes that we take funding from for-profit providers. In fact, more than 90 percent of the Foundation’s budget comes from family foundations or philanthropic organizations dedicated to improving students’ educational success.

We advocate for policies that benefit students, not the interests of one particular non-profit or private entity.

Levesque knows that her claim cannot be verified as the latest financials on FEE come from 2011. And FEE took their list of corporate sponsors off their website over a year ago – hardly a transparent act of a benevolent non-profit.  The Center for Public Integrity took a closer look at Jeb Bush’s non-profit foundation this week. Writes Michael Becker:

Records indicate that its donors include an array of conservative-leaning foundations and supporters of charter schools.

According to the Foundation Center, the following organizations supported Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education in 2011:

•The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, $1 million

•The Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, $500,000

•The Robertson Foundation, $500,000

•The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, $290,000

•The Carnegie Corporation of New York, $150,000, specifically for a “multi-year initiative to transform education using technology” *

•The Doris and Donald Fisher Fund, $50,000

•The William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust, $25,000

•The Hertog Foundation, $25,000

•The Cobb Family Foundation, $15,000

But Beckel points out that IRS records show that FEE claimed $8.5 million in revenue during 2011 with above tally from philanthropic groups only coming  to $2.555 million.  Where did the other almost $6 million come from? The list does not include the following (presumably) philanthropic foundations that were posted on FEE’s website in 2011 before they took I down.

The Broad Foundation (records not available after 2010)

The Susan & Bill Oberndorf Foundation

The William E. Simon Foundation (not available after 2010, but lists$25,000  targeted for Chiefs for Change in 2010)

The Walton Family Foundation ($1.55 million)($1 million in 2012)

It’s unclear why Foundation Center did not include these four groups in their total, but it still doesn’t account for 50 percent of FEE’s revenue. It’s reasonable to assume that the other 50 percent came from the education for-profit industry. This is clearly at odds with Levesque’s claim that 90 percent of FEE’s sponsorships come from philanthropic groups.

Levesque has had a bad week. Steve Miller of the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting wrote Wednesday that she pulled her lobbying registration credentials and indicated  that her decision was the result of FEE’s November request for her to come work full-time for FEE. Perhaps now that that she is fully devoted to FEE she will have time to clear up what she’s describing as a “misleading” and “innuendo.”

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