the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Where do we draw the line?

Posted by Jeff Id on January 8, 2012

In continuation of my investigation of the actions of the tax exempt 501c corporation the “PACIFIC INSTITUTE FOR STUDIES IN DEVELOPMENT, ENVIRONMENT, AND SECURITY”, I have dug deeper into the tax reporting and operations of Peter Gleick.  It appears that this organization operates completely above IRS law, employing what appears to be 95% government taxpayer money for the purpose of actively campaigning against conservative politicians and organizations. It is by no means the only group to do so but we have to start somewhere.

First, here is an article by President Peter Gleick on PIS letterhead specifically critiquing policies of conservative presidential candidates. climate_bs_award_2011[1]

Gleick is an extremist political activist by any form of the definition you care to propose.  He’s written numerous left wing propaganda pieces on the ‘green’ blog which are so full of pro-leftist disinformation that communist countries probably look to him for his expertise.  Now there is nothing inherently wrong with an organization promoting untruths for a political goal, the 501c’s are a leftist heaven for such things.  There are also conservative versions, but far, far fewer of them.  Conservatives don’t believe in taking government money for these things.  The result though has been a huge imbalance in funding for truth in science rather than the pro-government, pro-AGW, type messages.  Thus, it seems reasonable that we should shine a little light on them here.

Unfortunately for Gleick, he’s taken the process a step further in this years climate BS awards. Instead of complaining about those amazingly stupid conservatives, he’s actually taken the time to name and critique Republican presidential candidates for their positions on global warming.  This was in the last post but is worth reproducing here:

Climate B.S.* from all of the Republican candidates for President of the United States
Is it really necessary to be anti-science in general, and anti-climate science in particular, in order to be nominated to lead the Republican Party in the United States? Apparently, yes, at least in the minds of the Republican presidential candidates or their advisors. These candidates can be split into three groups: those ignorant or uninterested in science and its role in informing policy; those who intentionally distort science because it conflicts with deeply held political or religious ideology; and those who blow with the wind, giving their allegiance to whatever ideology seems most expedient at any given moment. There is some overlap, of course: some candidates, such as Rick Perry, have been in all three groups at various times. The third group includes candidates who have at one time or another held positions more or less consistent with scientific understanding, but who in 2011 adopted anti-scientific positions during their primary campaigns. For example, Gingrich, Romney, and Huntsman, at some point in the past all expressed at least a partial understanding about the reality and seriousness of human-caused climate change. Yet all three have now retreated from the scientific evidence to faulty but ideological safe positions demanded by the conservative wing of the Republican Party. In October, Romney caved in to conservative pressure and changed his stance on the issue. Just days ago, after pressure from anti-climate-science activists, Gingrich cut a chapter on climate science from a book of environmental essays he had agreed to produce. Ironically, that chapter was to have been written by an atmospheric scientist (Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University) who happens to be an evangelical and speaks regularly to conservative groups. She was also targeted by these activists for personal abuse – a tactic often pursued by climate deniers and contrarians. (For a few of the craziest things the top GOP candidates have said on climate change, see Joe Romm’s recent essay at Think Progress.)

In short, the choice among the Republican candidates on the issue of climate change is scientific ignorance, distain for science, blatant misrepresentation of facts, or naked political expediency, any one of which would make the Republican candidates strong contenders for the 2011 Climate B.S. Award. Combined? They win hands down.

The worst part of the above for my heart, is listing Activist Joe Romm as an honest broker of science.  The guy doesn’t have a scientific cell left in his body. They have all atrophied to raisins under his need to be green no matter the evidence.   Seriously though, 501C’s are specifically prohibited from participation for or against any politician.   This violation of their tax free status cannot be tolerated but we have to report it and then it is up to the IRS to determine whether they should be properly prosecuted.   Steve McIntyre took the time to see how the PIS group filed last year and noted the boxes indicating that the group had not campaigned for any candidate in 2010. The above quote is from an article dated1/5/2012 so is the tax exempt group ok until 2013 when they will undoubtedly declare they are tax exempt for 2012?

Here is a list of rules from the US government regarding 501C (3) corporations:

  What puts a 501(c)(3) status in jeopardy?
When a 501(c)(3) does not file paperwork with the IRS and/or state or misstates its records intentionally, its tax-exempt status can be jeopardized. Additionally, 501(c)(3) organizations cannot engage in the following activities:
• Conducting extensive lobbying;
• Donating a substantial private benefit to individuals or other organizations for uses not aligned with the organization’s 501(c)(3) purpose;
• Providing outsiders or insiders with personal benefits;
• Engaging in any political activity; and
• Having excessive unrelated business income (UBI).

Joe Romm may want to read up on these.

Cornell University actually lists the code.  You can read it in full here.  In the meatime, it looks like many 501c’s are way over the line for what they are allowed regarding their tax exempt status.  Since some formatting came with the text, I’ll put my bold in color below

§ 501. Exemption from tax on corporations, certain trusts, etc.

(a) Exemption from taxation

An organization described in subsection (c) or (d) or section 401 (a) shall be exempt from taxation under this subtitle unless such exemption is denied under section 502 or 503.
(b) Tax on unrelated business income and certain other activities

An organization exempt from taxation under subsection (a) shall be subject to tax to the extent provided in parts II, III, and VI of this subchapter, but (notwithstanding parts II, III, and VI of this subchapter) shall be considered an organization exempt from income taxes for the purpose of any law which refers to organizations exempt from income taxes.

(c) List of exempt organizations

The following organizations are referred to in subsection (a):
(1) Any corporation organized under Act of Congress which is an instrumentality of the United States but only if such corporation—

(A) is exempt from Federal income taxes—

(i) under such Act as amended and supplemented before July 18, 1984, or
(ii) under this title without regard to any provision of law which is not contained in this title and which is not contained in a revenue Act, or
(B) is described in subsection (l).
(2) Corporations organized for the exclusive purpose of holding title to property, collecting income therefrom, and turning over the entire amount thereof, less expenses, to an organization which itself is exempt under this section. Rules similar to the rules of subparagraph (G) of paragraph (25) shall apply for purposes of this paragraph.
(3) Corporations, and any community chest, fund, or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes, or to foster national or international amateur sports competition (but only if no part of its activities involve the provision of athletic facilities or equipment), or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals, no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual, no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation (except as otherwise provided in subsection (h)), and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.
The phrase ‘Substantial part of the activities’ for propaganda has become a huge hole in the legislation as that means some fraction of the tax free money can be used for propaganda.   Where Gleick (and many others) go wrong is when they list the names of candidates discussing their policies while using our money.
Ok, I’m tired again so rather than break down the tax forms from the PIS institute today, I’ll simply link the information here.  Pacific_Institute_990_tax_10[1].The PIS group has received over two million USD, primarily from government sources over the last 5 years.   This is equivalent to a healthy 10 million dollar company for profits while employing far fewer people for the result.   The two million used by this group in tax represents the full taxation of a healthy 25 million dollar company in the United States.  What also stinks is that all he had to do was build something with the employment level of a couple of gas stations and the guaranteed income of taxpayer money.
Note that in section 4 of his corporate tax return, Gleick asserted to the IRS that his group has participated in NO political campaign activities.
Will the lies about non-political status hold water in their 2011 return?  Considering that the group has turned over 1o million dollars in profits/contributions (mostly government tax money) in the past 5 years, I think they will take their chances!

26 Responses to “Where do we draw the line?”

  1. Matthew W said

    If MediaMatters can continue with being a 501(c)(3), good luck trying to getting the PIS’s revoked.

    Very frustrating indeed.

    It would be horribly frighting to find out how many more 501(c)(3)s out there that are far worse with taking taxpayer monies and doing political work.

  2. unakite said

    IANAL, or an IRS agent, but as a concerned (US) citizen, I agree 100%. Couple comments. First, one of the problems is with wiggle words like “extensive,” “substantial” and “excessive.” These are what lawyers thrive on. Since the definitions are subjective, they are difficult to prove. Based on the listed rules, what percentage of their activities are allowed for “lobbying, etc” before they are considered “extensive,” “substantial” and “excessive.”

    Also, Federal regulations only are effective if they are enforced. Unfortunately, many laws that could be effective, such as immigration laws, are not effective because the government won’t enforce them (and they sue the states if they try to protect their citizens). In which case, they’re not worth the paper they’re printed on. Wonder how quickly they would be on my **s if I didn’t pay my taxes this year.

  3. Thanks, Jeff, for this information.

    You are hitting “pay dirt” now; All hell may break loose at any time.

    Yes, the “PACIFIC INSTITUTE FOR STUDIES IN DEVELOPMENT, ENVIRONMENT, AND SECURITY”, and its director Peter Gleick have feet of clay, just like the rest of us.

    Rampant self-will promotes arrogance and blinds us to reality:

    Earth is a tiny piece of fly ash heated by the
    nuclear furnace that made our elements and
    spit out the ash five billion years (5 Gyr) ago.

    This ill-tempered furnace is more than a million times larger,

    300,000 times more massive than the speck of fly ash

    Leaders of nations and sciences seek to control.

    Images of Earth from space had a profound effect on world leaders and convinced them in ~1971 to unite nations to avoid mutual nuclear annihilation and fight against a “common enemy” – Global Climate Change.

    Click to access Climategate_Roots.pdf

    Despite these noble intentions, leaders of nations and sciences chose leadership path (a) instead of (b) in ~1971

    (a) Power, pride and ignorance
    (b) Humility, service and truth

    And the world is less safe now that it was in 1971.

  4. George said

    Who would investigate this? The Depart of Justice? They have been completely politicized. We don’t have any honest justice in the US anymore.

  5. cm said

    I’m struggling to understand how this is “pro-leftist disinformation”:

    A series of reports have been issued with bad, incomplete, misleading, or cherry-picked evidence of impacts to seagrasses, water quality, fish diversity, and especially seals. These reports have been highly criticized by independent scientists, including the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. And data that contradicts their own studies have been withheld by the Park Service, including over 200,000 photographs from hidden cameras they set up to monitor disturbances caused by the oyster farm, but which now reportedly show no evidence of such disturbances.

    An internal DoI report (the “Frost Report”) on this debacle was released earlier this year. That report acknowledged that the scientific arguments of damage from the oyster farm were false, and criticized withholding and cherry-picking data in public reports; writing journal articles with incomplete or wrong data; failing to present complete materials, data, and scientific observations to a National Academy of Sciences Committee, even after multiple requests; and issuing repeatedly false public statements. The Report found a “willingness to allow subjective beliefs and values to guide scientific conclusions,” the use of “subjective conclusions, vague temporal and geographic references, and questionable mathematical calculations,” and “misconduct [that] arose from incomplete and biased evaluation and from blurring the line between exploration and advocacy through research.”

    That sounds much more like the kind of thing you’d be ready to step up and fight (alongside Gleick), I’d have thought?

  6. gallopingcamel said

    It took me thirty months and intervention by a North Carolina senator to get 501(c3) status for six charter schools that I set up.

    My guess is that clowns like Gleick don’t get the kind of scrutiny that conservatives are subjected to. This kind of political activity is a “No-No” for 501s so why not report this guy to the IRS?

  7. page488 said

    Time for everyone to drag out the marching boots.

    Seriously, it’s only us citizens that can halt this crap. I think that many feel that there’s nothing much we can do, anymore, but we all have to try.

    Broadcasting the fraud is certainly a start.

    Thanks, Jeff

  8. Kan said

    It took a real investigative reporter with a hidden camera to fell what was well known to be the corrupt tree ACORN. But felled finally it was.

  9. Brian H said

    No, just re-named and spread more widely. They were, after all, rolling in the money needed to pull a huge fast one.

  10. Don keiller said

    I take it that you have/are going to make a formal complaint about Peter Gleick’s organisation’s alleged missuse of Government money?

    It sometimes seems a long hard road- it took Jonathan Jones and I almost two years to force CRU to release the CRUTEM
    data- but it was ultimately worth it.

    I haven’t finished yet, either. I am still engaged in a legal dispute with University of East Anglia and CRU on other matters and I have high hopes of a favourable resolution in the near future.

  11. M. Simon said

    George said
    January 8, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    Who would investigate this? The Depart of Justice? They have been completely politicized. We don’t have any honest justice in the US anymore.

    The wonder is that you ever believed it was otherwise. The difference from the past? The obviousness.

  12. Thanks for the comments.

    Two video recordings show Climategate history:

    1. Former President Eisenhower in 1961:

    2. NASA Administrator Dan Goldin; 1998:

    By coincidence my research career (1960-2011) recorded the manipulation of experimental data and observations in astronomy, astrophysics, biology, climatology, cosmology, nuclear, particle, planetary and solar physics, . . . and then culminating in the Climategate documents released in 2009.

    Click to access Summary_of_Career.pdf

    Climategate Lesson: “Humility is the key to Reality” confirms:

    a.) Herbert Spencer (1820-1903 AD): “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation”

    b.) Tau Teh Ching (About 600 BC): “To know that you do not know is the best. To pretend to know when you do not know is a disease. Only when one recognizes this disease as a disease can one be free from the disease.”

  13. Paul Linsay said

    Here’s a solution: if your organization is not required to pay taxes you can’t receive money from the federal government. Problem solved. Now do as you please with what you get.

  14. Anonymous said


    There are all kinds of laws that left-wing groups ignore with complete certainty that they will never have to comply. Unions are required to report how much of dues are used for politics rather than collective bargaining. This allows members in closed shops the right to refunds for the portions spent on politics. Teachers unions and other unions routinely report zero despite the fact that they pour massive amounts into political campaigns.

  15. Kan said

    Brian H: Not aware of this. What replaced it?

  16. Brian H said

    Various and numerous:

    I particularly like “New England Communities For Change”. My acronym for it is NECFoC.

  17. Lynn Clark said


    Are you sure PIS is a 501(c)(3) organization? Nothing in either of your two blog articles about PIS demonstrates that. At least a couple times you referred to 501(c) organizations, and then listed 501(c)(3) proscriptions against political activities. Different rules may apply if PIS is, say, a 501(c)(5) organization. The reason I ask is that a social organization (Corvette club) I belonged to for a few years was a 501(c)(5) (or 501(c)(7)…don’t remember exactly) organization. Different rules apply to them (I don’t know exactly what, but I don’t recall that the Corvette club was prohibited from lobbying or other political activities). I *think* that all 501(c) organizations are (or are supposed to be) tax-exempt, non-profit organizations. Specifically, 501(c)(3) organizations are supposed to be charitable organizations. Other 501(c)(x) (where x != 3) organizations aren’t necessarily *charitable* organizations, but are still non-profit and tax-exempt. But I could be completely wrong. This may be nit-picking, but I thought it was worth bringing up. I want you to be right about this, but think it is important to be sure that your criticism is valid and not a result of jumping to an erroneous conclusion.

  18. Carrick said

    Lynn, here it is:

    Click to access Pacific_Institute_990_tax_10.pdf

  19. Carrick said

    See Line I: 501(c)(3)

  20. Jeff Id said

    Carrick has it correct. The tax form lists them as a 501C 3. What stinks most about it is that the vast majority of its money comes from government.

    We have then the tax and spend left pushing an extremist anti-capitalist environmental agenda using money they have taken as taxes. They take my money, give it to friends, don’t tax themselves on giving it to them and then pushes a message which makes it harder for me to make money and adds size and cost to the government which took the money in the first place. I don’t think I’m alone in seeing the conflict of interest here.

    Of course the good doctor gets to make 150K of base salary with other expenses covered for working what he reports is 35 hours/week. My guess is that his personal stress level over work isn’t very high. He deserves to be shut down over this.

  21. Anonymous said

    Sent today to the IRS whistleblower office and the deputy chief criminal of criminal investigations. Peel free to send your own complaint.


    Re: the actions of the tax exempt 501c corporation the “PACIFIC INSTITUTE FOR STUDIES IN DEVELOPMENT, ENVIRONMENT, AND SECURITY”, and the tax reporting and operations of their president Peter Gleick.

    It appears that this organization operates completely above IRS law, employing what appears to be 95% government taxpayer grant money for the purpose of actively campaigning against politicians and organizations contrary to the tax code governing tax exempt 501c corporations.

    Read attached article for details and I trust that you have this corporation’s tax filing information on file, which should provide sufficient facts for you to proceed against this corporation and individual.


    Lets see if they act, or if they allow the politics of the current administration block their administration of the law.

  22. Jeff Condon said

    I fully intend to turn Gleick in. I also fully expect it to be ignored.

    Law is law though, and by random chance I may run into someone who realizes that.

  23. Brian H said

    Anyone making book?

  24. copner said

    My suggestion would be that if you intend to report to the IRS and fear that your report may not get the attention it deserves:

    Why not also make sure you inform the politicians / campaigns concerned?

    While you may not now how to get the IRS to pay attention, these are experienced political operators, who may have better contacts and/or be simply better at getting attention focused on issues of concern.

  25. Unbelievable. Maybe all political activity should be removed from section 501 and added to its own section when new rules and regulations which would make it easier and more straight forward to enforce.

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