SUMMARY: Liberty Matters News Service (5/22/03) — The Washington Post’s in-depth investigation of questionable land deals made by the giant green Nature Conservancy has kicked up a lot of dust. Joe Stevens and David Ottaway gathered reams of material and conducted exhaustive interviews that revealed the Conservancy may have been playing fast and loose with IRS rules governing the activities of charitable organizations.
Liberty Matters News Service (5/22/03) — The Washington Post’s in-depth investigation of questionable land deals made by the giant green Nature Conservancy has kicked up a lot of dust. Joe Stevens and David Ottaway gathered reams of material and conducted exhaustive interviews that revealed the Conservancy may have been playing fast and loose with IRS rules governing the activities of charitable organizations.
As a result of the articles, the Conservancy has suspended all “conservation buyer” transactions pending a review by the charity’s board of directors.
The series caught the attention of Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) who intend to grill the “charity” about its practice of selling land to its trustees at reduced prices, but requiring sizeable donations from them as part of the deal.
“Taxpayers have the right to know how the Nature Conservancy conducts its business,” said Sen. Grassley.
The organization has hired a high-powered Washington D. C. public relations firm to shore up its image in an attempt to stave off the Hill probe and has retained an outside law firm to handle any fallout.
Additionally, Landmark Legal Foundation is looking into grants TNC obtained from the Environmental Protection Agency.
The EPA awarded the Conservancy over $10 million between 1993 and 2002 and the “Agency did not competitively bid the grants … nor were there outside review panels to determine the merit of the applications and there was no … system to oversee the proper management of these grants.
The EPA needs to determine whether taxpayer funds were used properly by the Nature Conservancy,” said Landmark President Mark Levin. The Washington Post has invited readers to comment on the series and to share information about the organization at TNC@washpost.com.###RELATED STORIES”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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