Posted on Freedom Advocates on May 30th 2003
SUMMARY: The Nature Conservancy is coming under fire after the Washington Post described how the $3 billion environmental charity may have played loose with IRS laws to benefit supporters, including corporations that have paid millions in environmental fees. This story provides a comprehensive overview of how your taxes and donations have been used by The Nature Conservancy, provides links to the Washington Posts “Big Green” series and to a library of supplementary stories.
The Nature Conservancy is coming under fire after the Washington Post described how the $3 billion environmental charity may have played loose with IRS laws to benefit supporters, including corporations that have paid millions in environmental fees.
In a three-part series, Washington Post Staff Writers Joe Stephens and David B. Ottaway detailed questionable practices at the worlds richest environmental group like the following:
- Acquiring raw land, attaching development restrictions, then reselling the properties to supporters at greatly reduced prices.
- Selling ecologically sensitive land at reduced prices to the organization’s trustees for use as home sites.
- Conducting land deals that coincide with charitable contributions to the Conservancy from the buyers, who then benefit from significant tax breaks.
- Drilling for oil under the breeding ground of endangered species.
- Buying land from corporations whose executives sat on the nonprofit’s governing board.
- Accepting cash payments for roughly the amount of a discount that is then written off the buyers’ federal income taxes.
Conservancy takes steps to hold off external investigation
To shore up its image The Nature Conservancy hired a PR agency and has put outa call for its supporters to write letters to the editor to protest the Post series, the Post reported. In attempt to head off an outside investigation, like the one that the Post reports is brewing in Congress, the Conservancy has hired a team of lawyers. Meanwhile, the Conservancy has suspended all “conservation buyer” transactions until its board of directors can investigate [itself], according to the Post.
“Big Green” Series
Following is the three part “Big Green” series by Washington Post Staff Writers Joe Stephens and David B. Ottaway:
- Corporate ties enrich, entangle Nature Conservancy – 1.6 million home loan among president’s perks (Washington Post – 5/4/03)
- Inside the Nature Conservancy – Nonprofit Land Bank Amasses Billions – Charity Builds Assets on Corporate Partnerships (Washington Post – 5/5/03)
- A House in the Woods – Nonprofit Sells Scenic Acreage to Allies at a Loss – Buyers Gain Tax Breaks With Few Curbs on Land Use (Washington Post – 5/6/03)
“Big Green” supplementary stories
Following are supplementary stories to the “Big Green”.
- Washington Post TNC Series Hits a Nerve (Liberty Matters News Service – 5/22/03)
- The Nature Conservancy: Expensive image campaign gears up for damage control (Washington Post – 5/5/03)
- Conservancy ventures on Virginia seashore lose millions (Washington Post – 5/6/03)
- Nature Conservancy gas drilling placed endangered birds at risk (Washington Post – 5/6/03)
- Nature Conservancy deal opened the door for lavish homes (Washington Post – 5/6/03)
- Nature Conservancy’s property deals benefit friends (Washington Post – 5/7/03)
- Nature Conservancy Suspends Land Sales: Board of Nonprofit to Review Practices (Washington Post – 5/13/2003)
- Landmark Calls For Probe Into EPA Grants To Nature Conservancy (PR Newswire 5/15/2003)
- Charity Hiring Lawyers To Try To Prevent Hill Probe (Washington Post – 5/16/2003)
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