June 25, 2008

Reform Institute Responds to Chicago Tribune Article

Following up on this post, I was asked by the Reform Institute to post a Letter to the Editor that the Tribune declined to publish:

    To the Editor of the Chicago Tribune:

    I have been proud to be involved with the Reform Institute since its inception, and I am dismayed by the baseless allegations leveled against the Institute in the Tribune's June 17 article. With 15 years of nonprofit management experience, I can attest to the fact that the Institute not only takes its legal obligations seriously, but also goes above and beyond what is required of tax-exempt educational organizations in publicly disclosing its donors.

    The Reform Institute is a nonpartisan public policy organization seeking to build a more resilient America through fundamental reform in critical policy areas, such as homeland security, energy policy, immigration, economic policy, and governance and elections. These issues are among the top concerns for voters and are on the agendas for all campaigns. The Institute shapes its policy agenda without reference to any political campaign or political party.

    What drew me to the Institute was its focus on bipartisanship and its approach to the issues. The Institute was proud to have the support of Senator John McCain as it played a key role in enacting landmark campaign finance reform legislation. Recently, the Institute has become a leading voice for resilience, hosting a national symposium in New York City and testifying on that subject before Congress.

    The Institute's IRS filings were reviewed and verified by expert tax lawyers and independent audits. The Institute noted the anonymous donations in its filings and was prepared to divulge the donor names to the IRS if requested.

    The article also repeats discredited allegations involving donations to the Institute from Cablevision, claims that were examined and refuted by veteran cable industry reporter Ted Hearn of Multichannel News. The intimation of political favors is based on the flawed assumption that Senator McCain and Cablevision have corresponding positions on "a la carte" pricing of cable channels. In fact, Mr. Hearn points out that Senator McCain is a proponent of "a la carte" pricing, while Cablevision is strongly opposed. The Institute has no position on this issue.

    The article is riddled with inaccuracies and does disservice to an organization doing substantive policy work.

    Charles E.M. Kolb
    Member, Reform Institute Board of Directors

Posted by Rick Hasen at June 25, 2008 12:03 PM