published Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Public funds WWF schemes

With 4 million members and efforts in 100 countries, the World Wildlife Fund is the largest and, likely, the best-known environmental nonprofit organization in the world.

The WWF claims to do a great deal of good for endangered species and environmental protection efforts. However, when the Taxpayers Protection Alliance took a closer look at WWF funding, projects and scandals in a report released last week, a very troubling picture emerged.

The organization is a tremendous burden on taxpayers and a dangerous threat to the indigenous people in the areas where the WWF is active. Too often, the WWF does more harm than good to the animals and lands they profess to protect.

•••

A 2011 documentary titled “The Pact with the Panda,” exposed that the WWF was responsible for displacing more than a million native inhabitants in India in an effort to protect the local tiger population. This modern-day “Trail of Tears” is even more outrageous considering that the Indians driven from their lands under the guise of protecting tigers lived alongside the tigers for centuries. Not only did the WWF destroy the lives, culture and society of more than a million people, there are fewer tigers left in these areas now than before the atrocious displacement efforts began.

One reason for the failure of the WWF’s efforts to protect the tigers might have something to do with what they did with the tigers’ habitat after they drove away those pesky human from their homes. The WWF gives tourists who shell out about $10,000 the opportunity to pile in one of 155 jeeps and chase the few tigers that remain around their preserves for eight hours a day. This may be terrible for the tigers, but it’s big business for the WWF, which seems all too happy with the millions of dollars brought in through this ecotourism scheme.

This troubling instance of the WWF forcing people to uproot from their homes in India is not even the most despicable example of forced migration by organization in recent years. In Nov. 2011, Prince Charles, who serves as president of WWF UK, visited Tanzania to present five local leaders with “Living Planet” awards for their work. According to an article in the London newspaper The Telegraph, “Shortly before the Prince’s arrival, it was revealed that thousands of villagers had been evicted from the forest, their huts in the paddy fields torched and their coconut palms felled. This was carried out by the Tanzanian government’s Forestry and Beekeeping Division, with which the WWF has been working.”

•••

Besides driving poor native populations from their land and destroying their homes, the WWF also keeps busy ensuring these people remain poor.

WWF led a lobbying effort to impose trade restrictions on Indonesian pulp, paper and palm oil products, ostensibly to protect the forests of Indonesia. In reality, the WWF was serving as a front group for North American, European and Australian competitors who produce the same products as the Indonesian companies, but were being threatened by the lower price of the Indonesian goods. The area of Indonesia responsible for producing these products is one of the poorest places in the world. Workers in the region were given the opportunity to make a decent living and provide for their families, only to see it taken away because the WWF worked in cahoots with developed nations to kill their jobs

•••

In Dec. 2011, allegations of “inappropriate expense reporting” were reported in the WWF’s Tanzanian office. The WWF commissioned Ernst & Young to conduct an independent investigation to get to the bottom of the accusations.

The audit found that more than $400,000 was “misappropriated by the WWF local staff who forged hotel [and] taxi receipts,” according to the Daily News, a newspaper in Tanzania.

This widespread fraud related to the WWF’s efforts in Tanzania resulted in the termination of eight employees and the resignation of six others.

It is a misfortune when a nonprofit organization has its money stolen by disreputable workers. It is an outrage when most of the money stolen came at the expense of taxpayers. According to the audit, on top of the $400,000+ pilfered by corrupt WWF workers, five more WWF employees in Tanzania stole money from a USAID-funded project.

In total, taxpayers were out hundreds of thousands of dollars because bureaucrats and elected officials were careless enough to shower the WWF with tax dollars, despite the organization’s troubling track record.

•••

A few hundred grand is, unfortunately, chump change compared to the tens of millions of dollars the federal government regularly hands out to the WWF. Since 2000, the WWF snatched up $97 million in federal grants and other handouts funded by tax dollars, according to the Taxpayers Protection Alliance’s tally.

A lot of those tax dollars go straight in the pockets of the WWF’s well-compensated employees. Carter Roberts, WWF’s president, pocketed a $425,000 salary in 2009. The chief operating officer of the World Wildlife Fund, Marcia Marsh, earns over $300,000 in salary and benefits. “In fact, in 2009, no fewer than 18 U.S.-based WWF employees raked in more than $200,000 in salary and benefits,” according to the government watchdog group responsible for the reports.

Perhaps most shocking for taxpayers is the fact that the WWF currently has $238.1 million in the bank. That means that taxpayers are forced to pour millions of dollars each year into an organization sitting on nearly a quarter of a billion dollars. The WWF is extraordinarily rich and certainly does not need an annual bailout courtesy of American taxpayers to keep its lights on.

The idea that tax dollars would go to support a rich international nonprofit might not raise red flags at first blush, but a closer look is enough to infuriate any hardworking taxpayer. It is simply unthinkable that, with the government $16 trillion in debt and tens of millions of Americans out of work, federal lawmakers and bureaucrats find it acceptable to hand out tax dollars to an organization that forces people from their homes, prevents some of the poorest workers in the world from earning a decent living, harms the endangered animals it claims to help and has proven irresponsible with money.

Congress should immediately stop wasting Americans’ money subsidizing the WWF.

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conservative said...

The president of the "nonprofit" WWF is paid $425,000, the CEO over $300,000, and 18 other "employees" more than $200,000 in salary and benefits and they have $238.1 in the bank, what a scam!!!

This "nonprofit" is a corporation that pays no federal, state or local taxes to include property taxes. Now isn't this typical of Liberals who seek "tax loopholes" to escape corporate taxes, pay one another exorbitant salaries, and all in the name of charity or a cause while making "obscene profits."

October 9, 2012 at 10:36 a.m.
dao1980 said...

Conny, I don't watch or read enough politico news to know about this, and have yet to form an opinion, but the way you are describing it... kinda makes it sound like a church.

"nonprofit, pays no taxes, seeks tax loopholes, pay one-another exorbitant salaries, all in the name of charity or a cause while making obscene profits"

I don't know which would be worse, stealing tax dollars from the public pool, or cheating the money from trusting givers on sunday morn..

October 9, 2012 at 10:50 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

There seems to be some inaccuracies in this documentary. I have submitted the question to Snopes. The Charity Navigator does not support the notion of 238.1 million in bank-it just lists total assets at 267 million (that may not be $ in bank, but offices, vehicles, etc). It has a rating of 3 out of 4 stars-not the greatest but not horrible either. Government grants make up 18% of their income, and 85% of their funds go to programs. The CEO compensation is less than 0.25%. In comparison, I found a highly rated charity where the CEO's compensation was 2% of funds, and they appeared to receive roughly the same % in grants.

In short, there have been errors identified in the film, so until it has been thoroughly vetted, the whole film is suspect and not a good thing to accept without question.

October 9, 2012 at 11:15 a.m.
charivara said...

How much tax payer money, in the form of tax holidays, has been given, say, to build NFL stadiums? How much money do NFL owners make? How much in tax breaks do, say, the very profitable GE and Exxon receive? How much do their executives make? How much exactly is the "tremendous burden on taxpayers" the WWF represents compared to the above two examples? Stirring up the ignorant and ill informed with ludicrous citations of miniscule expenditures of government funds. A true public service!

At least non profits receive their federal tax payer money legally. Look, for example, at Hospital Corporation of America. That’s the company that pled guilty multiple felonies and paid almost $1 billion in fines for committing fraud against tax payer funded Medicare and others. Any idea what Rick Scott, their CEO at the time, is doing now? Talk about outrage. Hint, he’s not in jail but he did get over $350 million dollars in cash and stock from HCA’s board when he was forced to resign. That’s American capitalism at work! (You try defrauding the federal government.) But, I digress.

So, it’s not just those tax money sucking, deficit creating non profits that we have to worry about, although you’d never know that by reading this column. The TFP should immediately stop wasting subscribers’ money and hire someone who is intellectually honest, a real conservative, not a Republican.

October 9, 2012 at 1 p.m.
aae1049 said...

Charivara, what is "a real conservative, a real Republican." i guess you deem your self a real R. I have never met such a person that follows the entire platform of any party, unless they were absent a little IQ. In fact, the least informed people I know are blind party followers that cannot think for themselves.

You are so ill informed non profits. Just because a non profit works in the tax framework,that does not make them any more honest than any corporation.

October 9, 2012 at 6:42 p.m.
charivara said...

aae1049 I didn't say that non-profits are more honest than corporations. I said that attacking non profits for "abusing" public funds without acknowledging that some for profit corporations do the same thing, usually on a much larger scale, is dishonest. And today's "Republicans" have more in common, in tactics and ideology with fascists, than traditional conservatives have. Lincoln, T. Roosevelt, Ike and even Ronald Reagan would not have been welcome in today's "Republican" party. How many "moderates" spoke, or even were invited to the Republican convention? Did you hear from, or even see Colin Powell, for instance? Wake up. This country is being hijacked by people who have pillaged it for the last 30 years and don't want to give any of their ill-gotten gains up. And they've duped people like you to support them.

October 9, 2012 at 8:46 p.m.
aae1049 said...

Yep, I have been duped politicians that start as grassroots and evolve to power structure thieves.

October 9, 2012 at 10:46 p.m.
charivara said...

Can't even write, let alone think, coherently. No surprise here.

October 10, 2012 at 7:57 a.m.
Leaf said...

conny said: "Now isn't this typical of Liberals who seek "tax loopholes" to escape corporate taxes, pay one another exorbitant salaries, and all in the name of charity or a cause while making "obscene profits."

Whaaaa? Is this opposite day? I thought in conny's world Liberals were all poor black people on welfare. Now they sound a lot like rich corporate CEOs seeking loopholes for their corporate taxes. Weird. Psychotic even.

October 11, 2012 at 4:01 p.m.
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