The Wall Street Journal looks at controversies over big donations by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, whose financial support for a conservative political network has made their cultural, medical, and educational giving a lightning rod for criticism from the left.
Unions, civil-rights activists, and educators have questioned whether institutions like the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Catholic University, and the United Negro College Fund are tacitly endorsing the Kochs' libertarian, free-market agenda by accepting eight- and nine-figure gifts from their foundations and businesses.
Such conflicts raise questions over whether nonprofit groups—particularly in a largely liberal city like New York, where David Koch lives and channels much of his philanthropic largesse - should be concerned with a donor's political views, the Journal says.
Naomi Levine, executive director of New York University's George H. Heyman Jr. Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising, said nonprofit boards "have to have a process in place" for assessing ethical issues arising from gifts but that a donor's politics usually do not raise a red flag. "If the money comes to us made legally and allows us to do with it what the university needs, we will accept it," she said of Heyman Center donors.