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Ted Turner’s UN Foundation Built on Sand?

A recent report issued by the Capital Research Center (CRC) reveals the shaky legal and constitutional grounds on which Time-Warner vice-chair- man Ted Turner’s United Nations Foundation has been built. The CRC report states that Turner’s $1 billion “gift” to the UN almost eighteen months ago “…is being channeled to the UN through [the UN Foundation] a private foundation and a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit. But the UN is strictly prohibited by its charter from accepting contributions not from member nations. Questions raised about this practice have not been fully answered by the UN” (Cliff Kincaid, “Ted Turner’s United Nations Foundation: Making the UN a Pawn for Tax-Exempt Special Interests,” Foundation Watch, CRC, March 1999).

The report also states that “Turner’s United Nations Foundation has very close ties to the Clinton administration and appears to be furthering the interests of certain State Department officials. Could Turner’s foundation be using private funds to help federal bureaucrats skirt funding roadblocks erected by Congress?” The report cites political concerns as well. “Turner’s financial support for UN activities threatens to exert undue influence over UN policy and international relations. As is typical for the outspoken billionaire, the activities funded by Turner’s foundation are controversial and even raise serious human rights concerns. Moreover, in some cases, they ignore official US policy to pursue the personal agendas of the foundation’s trustees.”

CRC first examined the nature of Turner’s involvement with the UN last December in a special report. His $1 billion gift was described as “an opportunity [for Turner] to pursue his liberal social agenda through a powerful association of national governments” (Foundation Watch, CRC, December 1998). “The UN Foundation was never intended to serve the UN members’ interests or needs, but to expand UN programs on population control, environmental regulation and other personal interests of Turner’s,” CRC stated in its recent report.

Meanwhile, UN officials announced March 8 that Turner’s UN Foundation has allocated $12 million over the next two years “to try to persuade the United States to pay its UN dues” (“Ted Turner Joins Push to Stop Pro-Life Amendment,” AP, 9 March 1999). The $12 million will go towards an educational campaign to oppose the pro-life amendment that passed the US Congress last year but was vetoed by President Clinton. That amendment barred using US taxpayer funds to support UN groups that promote or perform abortion as population control.

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