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Friday, June 24, 2011

The gingrich that stole charity - Kevin

“The short memories of American voters is

what keeps our politicians in office.”

Will Rogers

How right Will Rogers was. Newt Gingrich would want it to be true as well. The former Speaker of the House again has aspirations for the most powerful position in the world, the Presidency of the United States. The problem is, Newt has a terrible case of Founders Syndrome. Sounds painful. Mention foundering to an equestrian and they are sure to grimace at the thoughts of the dreaded inflammatory condition which affects horses. Equestrians know that a foundered horse is one that has gorged itself on grass, grain, or liquids. Newt did not exactly gorge himself on grass, although he did gorge himself on a different type of green substance. That substance was cash. Twice, Newt Gingrich has foundered on the cash crop cultivated by charities that he established. The first incident occurred in the late 1990’s when Gingrich was at the helm of the House of Representatives. The former Time “Man of the Year” and author of Contract with America was accused of “drawing money from a tax-exempt organization to help finance his political activities.”[1] Newt was cleared by the Internal Revenue Service but not before the House Ethics Committee fined him $300,000.

Since his resignation from the House in 1999, the former college professor has amassed a fortune from his conglomeration of for-profit and nonprofit organizations. However, Newt seems to have regressed back to his old ways. Recently ABC News reported that a charity founded by Newt, Renewing American Leadership, paid Gingrich Communications $220,000 over a two year period for books and DVDs. Gingrich Communications and Gingrich Productions, both of which are for-profit businesses, were established by Newt. When an ABC News reporter confronted Newt about the allegations of wrongdoing, Newt replied, “I’m not concerned about that. The American people aren’t concerned about that.” Obviously, in an attempt to dissuade the reporter, Newt arrogantly assumed that he could speak on behalf of all Americans. Classic symptom of Founders Syndrome!

In the article, Toward an Understanding of Founder’s Syndrome: An Assessment of Power and Privilege Among Founders of Nonprofits Organizations, Stephen Block and Steven Rosenberg tackle the question, “Do Founders use their position to influence organizational direction?”[2] Puzzling was the sentence that followed, “The purpose of this article is to answer that question.” The statement seemed to suggest that Founders Syndrome had even the slightest possibility of being an implausible phenomenon. Block and Rosenberg, subsequently discussed this syndrome and presented their empirical study and findings.

The article states that “one person inherently holds privileges and power that only a few individuals will ever experience: the founder of a nonprofit organization.” It is these privileges and power that Newt Gingrich took advantage of. Newt Gingrich, suffering from Founder’s Syndrome, used his influential powers over Renewing American Leadership in order to take money that funders had earnestly given to the charity. It is evident that the staff of Renewing American Leadership experienced difficulties to say “no” to Newt Gingrich’s plans, just as Carver identified in his critique. One may ask, “what harm did Newt cause?” The privileges that the nonprofit sector enjoy are closely monitored by the IRS. And rightly so. Nonprofits obtain funding from various sources, including private individuals who contribute to charities in order to fulfill their altruistic desires. When these funds are used by founders such as Newt Gingrich for purposes other than providing some public benefit, laws are broken and trust is broken.

Shame on you ginGRINCH.

[1] Mosk, Matthew, Brian Ross, and Angela Hill. Newt Gingrich charity paid cash to gingrich for profit business. ABC News. June 14, 2011. June 22 2011

[2] Block, Stephen and Steven Rosenberg. Toward an understanding of Founder’s syndrome: An assessment of power and privilege among founders of nonprofit organizations. Nonprofit Management & Leadership. Vol 12 no. 4 summer. 2002. Web.

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