Conservative activists are calling out the independent, nonprofit news organization ProPublica for reporting with a left-wing bias and for being primarily funded by entrepreneur George Soros and multiple, unnamed left-wing donors, according to a report Friday from the New York Post.
The Post reported that the activists, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, claimed that ProPublica's reporters and editors attack right-leaning figures and organizations, often for a lack of transparency, yet they don't reveal all the names of their own donors.
A self-described "independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism with moral force," ProPublica disclosed to the IRS that it accepted donations of more than $35 million in 2021. However, IRS filings in 2020 and 2021 revealed that $6.3 million of ProPublica's donations came from anonymous donors.
According to the Post, the nonprofit has declined multiple requests to identify the donors who made up nearly a quarter of its donations in 2021. ProPublica has also declined to explain how these donors contributed to the organization.
The organization's 2022 audited financial statement revealed that more than $9.9 million in funding came from two undisclosed donors, making up one quarter of ProPublica's revenues. A ProPublica spokesperson addressed the Post's inquiries regarding the anonymous donors with the following statement:
"The funding you cite was reported publicly on our 2022 audited financial statement. Every year, on our IRS Form 990, we list the donors who contributed $5,000 or more, which provides readers with more transparency about the sources of our funding than the IRS requires of nonprofits. Our 2022 Form 990 will be published this fall, as is our standard practice."
ProPublica declined to comment when the Post asked for transparency about multiple donations that are listed anonymously on their most recent 990 disclosure.
The revelation of these anonymous donors follows the news site's April report on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his "beneficial relationship" with billionaire conservative financier Harlan Crow. ProPublica took issue with Thomas' ethics and his lack of transparency regarding his receipt of years of gifts from Crow, including vacations on the billionaire's yacht and trips on his private jet.
One conservative activist told the Post, "I'm sure in [ProPublica's] own minds, they are righteous warriors for truth and justice. But I know bulls*** when I see it. Among other things, they are running a very aggressive campaign to target conservative justices of the [Supreme] Court.
"They act all righteous and preening faux-objectivity as if they're moral giants and we're knuckle-dragging animals," the conservative added. "It's ridiculous."
The Post reported that Mark Colodny, one of ProPublica's board of directors, hosted a fundraiser at a luxurious Grammercy Park home in Manhattan Monday night. Attending the fundraiser were several of the nonprofit's wealthiest donors, including Charles Rockefeller and his wife, Emily Shippee; former Condé Nast executive Joy Marcus; Spotify vice president of corporate development Sheila Spence; and Lawrence Rand, chairman emeritus of public relations firm Kekst & Co.
When asked about ProPublica, Colodny told the Post that he is "proud to be a longstanding supporter" and believes in the nonprofit's mission and the important work they have done over many years.
"I support ProPublica because I have long been concerned about the crisis in funding for journalism in the U.S.," he said.
Commenting on the fundraiser, Federalist Society leader Leonard Leo, about whom ProPublica has published numerous unfavorable stories, told the Post that the nonprofit "brands itself as seeking transparency and accountability when here they are having a private dinner with billionaire donors from the New York financial community."
"It begs the question: Who's influencing what ProPublica does and what are the special interests that those people represent? They're taking money from tremendously influential financiers in our country, and we have no idea who they are and what they are getting in return.
"I've been the subject of ProPublica reporting largely around the subject of anonymous giving within the conservative movement," Leo said. "So I'm happy to see they're having dark money dinners because now maybe they'd be in favor of anonymous giving."
Many of ProPublica's largest donors and their respective tax information are listed on the site, including the Abrams Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Dyson Foundation, and the Commonwealth Fund. Several organizations on the site also have strong left-wing ties, including Crankstart, the foundation of Sequoia Capital chairperson Michael Moritz, who was a major supporter of former President Barack Obama, and investment firm Emerson Collective, whose president — Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple co-founder, chairman, and CEO Steve Jobs — is a prominent Democratic supporter.
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