Ron Arnold and Teresa Heinz Kerry
In April 2004, the Capital Research Center published an article by Executive Director of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, Ron Arnold railing at the prospect that Teresa Heinz Kerry could become the 'first lady' of the United States and still control her philanthropic foundations.
In recent years Arnold, a Wise Use Movement leader and a declared Republican, has found a niche for himself in having articles published in CRC's monthly newsletter, Foundation Watch, published by the conservative (CRC).
"The United States has never had a wealthy spouse overshadow its President," Arnold melodramatically warned. "But Teresa Heinz Kerry leads and funds philanthropic foundations, and she is on the board of directors of highly political nonprofit groups that receive her foundation's support and that can advance or frustrate the policies of her husband, should he become president," he wrote. [
Heinz Kerry is the widow of the late Senator H. John Heinz III who was killed in a plane crash in 1991. While he was alive Heinz foundations - established with the inheritance the Heinz food company - funded a range of groups, including environmental projects.
Following his death Teresa Heinz became chairman of the Howard Heinz Endowment and the Vira I. Heinz Endowment and she is now also Chairman of the board of the Heinz Family Foundations. The foundations give modest grants to a range of environmental groups, including the League of Conservation Voters, which ranks the envionmental voting record of members of Congress. Arnold told the Los Angeles Times"this is very Machiavellian".
"Perhaps you could chalk up the environmental movement's strong and early support for John Kerry's bid for the Democratic presidential nomination to the influence of his wife," he speculated. "Heinz foundation grants pay for groups sponsoring thinly disguised anti-business drives and partisan political campaigns," he complained.
Chellenging the use by Heinz personally of two person Heinz Kerry trusts, Arnold argued that "exempt foundations have an obligation to be transparent and straightforward about their revenue and their grants".
One project funded by Heinz foundation money - the Clean Air Task Force - particularly irritated Arnold. While the grant was to protect air quality in south-western Pennsylvania from power utilities emissions Arnold claimed this really mean it was "to turn public opinion against the Bush administration and shut down Midwest coal-and-oil fired utilities".
Arnold's article succeeded in gaining traction in the mainstream media. Most reported the Capital Research Center as a conservative non-profit group but none reported Arnold's role as a leader of the Wise Use Movement. Nor was it reported that Arnold's Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise received funding from ExxonMobil in 2003. Nor did CRC disclose that it has received funds from ExxonMobil in 2002 and 2003.
The President of the Capital Research Center, Terrence Scanlon told the New York Times that "when Hillary was doing health care it wasn't like she controlled nine health maintenance organizations that could lend their clout to her. Teresa has three endowed foundations at her disposal."
While CRC and Arnold got a good run with their timely newsletter profile of Heinz Kerry, it wasn't all plain sailing. The New York Times noted that one of the biggest funders of the CRC was the Sarah Scaife Foundation - chaired by Richard Mellon Scaife- which contributed $700,000 to the center from 1998 to 2002.
Scaife's cousin, the New York Times reported, is James M. Walton who is not only the chairman of the Vira I. Heinz Endowment but is also a member of the board of the Sarah Scaife Foundation which approved CRC's funding. While Scaife foundations did not respond to inquiries, Walton wrote in an email that he supported funding for CRC.
"Foundations and their board members frequently support organizations based on broad goals even though they may not necessarily agree with every individual action or position taken by that grantee," he wrote to the New York Times while distancing himself from Arnold's criticisms of Heinz. "Heinz Endowments has not used its funding to support either extremist groups or inappropriate political activity," he wrote.
Heinz Kerry said that the bulk of the grants criticised by Arnold originated from the Vira Heinz Endowment which is chaired by Walton. "I am not the one with a conflict," she told the New York Times.
Other SourceWatch resources
- Ron Arnold "The Heinz foundations and the Kerry campaign: one has money, the other needs money", Foundation Watch, Capital Research Center, April 2004.
- John Boudreau, "Groups caught in political crossfire: foundations causes can invite harsh spotlight", Mercury News, April 4, 2004.
- Ralph Vartabedian, "Kerry's wife might rule nonprofit empire in D.C.; Control of charities could vex presidency", Times-Picayune, April 18, 2004. (This is a syndicated Los Angeles Times story).
- Alex Chadwick, "Potential political fallout if Teresa Heinz Kerry continues her career as a philanthropist, even if husband John Kerry wins the White House", National Public Radio, April 22, 2004.
- Stephanie Strom, "In Vast Philanthropy, Kerry's Wife Wields Sway", New York Times, May 9, 2004.
- William Douglas, "Conservatives target Heinz Kerry: They paint her as pushy, radical, praise Laura Bush as calm, reliable", The State, May 17, 2004.