The Koch brothers have donated considerable sums of money to various philanthropic efforts in recent years. They’ve also donated considerable amounts of money to advance conservative political causes. Those who can’t separate the two actions — among them Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid — have run an incessant campaign to demonize the Kochs, and that effort has now led to young black students losing college scholarships.
Allow us to explain.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees didn’t appreciate the fact that the United Negro College Fund accepted $25 million from Koch Industries and the Charles Koch Foundation, or that the UNCF’s president spoke at a Koch-funded summit.
AFSCME President Lee Saunders wrote in a letter that while he was “deeply troubled” by UNCF President Michael Lomax’s decision to accept $25 million from David and Charles Koch, he assumed that by accepting those funds Mr. Lomax was “in no way supporting or lending the name of the UNCF to the political or social causes view of the Koch brothers.”
But Mr. Saunders then continued on, saying he was “truly stunned” to learn that Mr. Lomax spoke at a Koch brothers summit in California, claiming the appearance “was a betrayal of everything the UNCF stands for.” He continued by telling Mr. Lomax that his appearance at the summit could only be interpreted as “a sign of your personal support and the UNCF’s organizational support of the Koch brothers’ ideological program.”
Mr. Saunders said Mr. Lomax’s actions were “deeply hostile” to public employees and a “profound betrayal of the ideals of the civil rights movement,” and that the union would be ending its relationship with the UNCF.
AFSCME’s relationship with the UNCF revolved around the Union Scholars Program, in which college students worked with the union during the summer in exchange for a stipend and scholarship support. A union spokesman told the Huffington Post that the AFSCME contributes hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to the program — a program which students now no longer have access to.
This is completely ridiculous.
Regardless of the political ideologies, people should be able — and be encouraged — to support a wide range of nonprofits without having to worry about whether their support might alienate other donors.
Democrats and their supporters are quick to and fond of accusing conservatives and Republicans of being racists, but when Republican supporters such as the Kochs aim to demonstrate otherwise, a government employee union responds by causing direct harm to blacks.
Democratic policies have long limited the economic well-being and upward mobility of black Americans. Today, Democrats favor a higher minimum wage — which will deny more young blacks an opportunity to enter the labor market — and immigration policies that overwhelmingly favor Latinos at the expense of blacks who can’t find work. Democrats also own the failures of public schools in inner cities that have created a black underclass in many urban areas.
If Democratic allies are going to turn their backs on the United Negro College Fund out of spite and further deny young blacks the chance to climb to the middle and upper classes, conservatives and Republicans should step in to fill the void.
Conservatives, advocates of personal and economic freedom, and anyone angered by the partisanship of charity should donate to the UNCF. That would send a stronger message than any childish maneuver by the AFSCME.
Charity shouldn’t be partisan. And those kids deserve to receive their scholarships.