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September 28, 2016

Daily News Roundup: Embattled Leader Keeps Hold on Bay Area Museums

Controversial Patron Retains Top Board Spot at Fine Arts Museums: Philanthropist and socialite Dede Wilsey prevailed in a power struggle at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, winning board votes that will keep her atop the organization’s leadership ranks, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Under bylaw amendments, her title will change from president to board chair, and trustees voted to expand the museums’ leadership group. Ms. Wilsey called the changes "minimal," and a spokesman for her said she remains “firmly in place” as the board’s head and “has no intention of stepping down.” She has led the board since 1998 and in recent years also served as the museums' chief executive. She had vowed to fight an effort by museum officials to oust her over the summer in the wake of controversy over a $450,000 payment she directed to an ex-employee.

Patient Groups Stay on Sidelines in Furor Over Drug Prices: Amid growing public debate over pharmaceutical companies spiking their prices for key medications, the nation’s biggest patient-advocacy nonprofits have largely kept quiet on the issue, writes The New York Times. Health-policy experts say the groups receive millions of dollars a year in donations from the makers of drugs used by their patient members and have tended to focus their advocacy and influence on broader access to treatments rather than lower costs. The head of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society said it met resistance from other patient groups and from drug companies when it set out to address rising prices.

Data Firm Splunk Makes $100 Million Software Pledge: The analytics company’s in-kind donation over the next decade will be accompanied by 60,000 hours of volunteer support to help nonprofits and schools use its products, Fortune writes. The pledge marks a major ramping up of the 13-year-old firm’s Splunk4Good program, which has provided about $10 million in software to charities over the past four years. Splunk clients use its products to collect data about software applications, cloud services, servers, and other IT equipment to detect anomalies and assess performance. Doug Merritt, president of the company, said it aims to help nonprofits harness big data without having to raid their budgets for technology purchases.

Study Says British Charities Face Big Hit From Brexit: Britain’s departure from the European Union could trigger a major loss of funding for the country’s nonprofits, according to the Thomson Reuters Foundation. A report by London law firm Allen & Overy and TrustLaw, a pro bono legal service run by the foundation, notes that 249 British charities collectively received $282 million in 2014 from the EU, the world’s largest humanitarian donor. Mark Mansell, an Allen & Overy partner, said it is unlikely that the EU will continue to subsidize British groups’ aid and development work once the country formally leaves the bloc or that Britain’s government will pick up the tab.

Trump Adviser Says IRS Allows Golf Club’s "Storage" of Foundation-Bought Portrait: Campaign adviser Boris Epshteyn said in a television interview that the display at a Donald Trump-owned golf resort of a portrait of Mr. Trump purchased by his foundation does not violate Internal Revenue Service rules against “self-dealing” by charity officials, The Washington Post reports. Mr. Epshteyn told MSNBC that the regulations “specifically state that when a foundation has an item, an individual can store those items — on behalf of the foundation — in order to help it with storage costs.” Mr. Trump bought the painting for $10,000 at a 2014 charity auction and paid for it with money from the Donald J. Trump Foundation, one of three occasions the Post has documented in which the Republican presidential nominee used his charity’s money for seemingly personal purchases.