(originally posted at Capital Research Center)
Summary: The obscure left-wing nonprofit, Alliance for Global Justice, punches well above its weight. The organization serves as a conduit, keeping funds flowing to radical and anti-American groups that terrorize conservatives on campus. It has helped to set the tone of the “resistance” movement opposed to President Trump.
During the salad days of the Cold War, communists developed a clever tactic for infiltrating the mainstream of American society. Whenever they founded an organization, they almost never used the term “Communist” in the name. Rather, communists would give the organization a professional-sounding title.
Groups like American Youth for Democracy, League of American Writers, and National Lawyers Guild were either fronts for the Soviet Union or established by American-born communists. By using an innocuous title, these groups were able to make themselves appealing to mainstream America. Avoiding the term Communist, they were able to hide their true aim, the spread of an ideology that destroyed liberty and caused the deaths of tens of millions of persons.
After the Cold War, communists replaced the veneer of professionalism in their titles with a hefty dollop of sanctimony. Otherwise, the tactic is the same: employ a name that, on its face, few will find objectionable and that hides the group’s true goals.
One of the better known such groups is International Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER). This group came to prominence during the Iraq War of the last decade. ANSWER is an umbrella group that organizes anti-war protests. About the only objection one could have was to point out how sanctimonious its name was.
But the group’s seemingly innocent title concealed a sinister reality. ANSWER was established by the International Action Center, a front group for the Workers World Party. The Workers World Party wears its communism on it sleeve, openly embracing the totalitarian nightmare that is North Korea.
Another such organization is the Alliance for Global Justice (AfGJ). This Tucson, Arizona-based group had largely flown under the radar since its 1998 founding. Yet in February 2017, AfGJ gained notoriety when the Daily Caller revealed that it had funneled $50,000 to Refuse Fascism, the group that was behind the riotous shutdown of a speech that conservative speaker Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to give at the University of California, Berkeley.
AfGJ bills itself as “A little bit people’s think tank, a whole lot of organizing.” Indeed, everyone on AfGJ’s staff has considerable experience in organizing, both at home and abroad. But AfGJ does more than just organize. It helps fund many different left-wing groups through a legal maneuver known as “fiscal sponsorship.” And, as explained below, in a nation that is as polarized and has as many discontented young people as today’s America does, an organization like AfGJ can prove dangerous.
According to its most recent (2015) IRS filing, AfGJ had just under $2.3 million in revenue, $2.1 million in expenses, and $753,909 in assets.
AfGJ’s funding reads like a Who’s Who of radical left-wing foundations. Since 2004, AfGJ has received over $200,000 in funding from the Tides Foundation. Tides’ radicalism has been documented many times by Capital Research Center. Indeed, when other left-wing foundations want to give money to radical leftist groups but don’t want to be seen giving it directly, they donate to Tides as a pass-through. (Previous CRC papers on Tides: Green Watch, August 2012; Foundation Watch, July 2011; and Foundation Watch, October 2010.) From 2004 to 2006, the Open Society Institute (now known as Open Society Foundations) gave $100,000 to AfGJ. The Open Society Institute was founded by billionaire George Soros, who seems never to have met a leftist cause he didn’t want to fund.
Other such foundations include:
-The Arca Foundation, which has given $245,000 since 2002. CRC’s Matthew Vadum described Arca as “on the cutting edge of radical left-wing causes, embracing Fidel Castro’s Cuba, the Palestinian cause, Saul Alinsky-inspired community organizing, and the never-ending social justice campaigns of the Left” (Foundation Watch, October 2011).
-The Firedoll Foundation has given $101,500 since 2008. Firedoll has also donated to the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, a “charity” that had financial ties to the Holy Land Foundation. The founders of the Holy Land Foundation were given prison sentences ranging from 15 to 65 years in 2009 after being convicted of funneling over $15 million to the terrorist organization Hamas.
-The Brightwater Fund has donated $510,00 to AfGJ since 2011. Brightwater also funds the radical leftist Popular Resistance, which has protested at the homes of members of the Federal Communications Commission. In one instance, members of the group blocked the driveway of Commissioner Tom Wheeler.
-The New World Foundation has donated $95,000 since 2003. The philanthropy also gives money to the Tides Foundation. From 1982 to 1988 it was chaired by none other than Hillary Clinton. During that time, it donated money to radical groups like the Christic Institute, Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), and the National Lawyers Guild (the aforementioned communist front group).
-AfGJ has also received $30,000 in grants from the Foundation for Deep Ecology, an environmental foundation that considers human beings to be a plague upon the earth; $172,000 from the Hill Snowdon Foundation, which has given over $5 million since 2000 to the Tides Foundation; and $30,000 from the charitable arm of every leftist’s favorite confectionary maker, the Ben and Jerry’s Foundation.
AfGJ has also taken money from corporate foundations, including $10,000 from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, $10,000 from the Aetna Foundation, $5,000 from the Bank of America Charitable Gift Fund, $119,000 from the Fidelity Investments Charitable Gift Fund, and $21,100 from the Schwab Charitable Fund (the last three corporations provide “donor-advised funds” to individuals or foundations who use the funds to make charitable donations, often anonymously).
Earlier this year, Capital Research Center reported about these funding streams on its blog Bombthrowers, (“Do Bank of America, Fidelity, and Schwab support the Berkeley violence?” February 8, 2017). The blog post asked:
Now that esteemed companies like Bank of America, Fidelity Investments, and Charles Schwab Corporation know that the money they give to [AfGJ] can be funneled to violent groups like Refuse Fascism, do they condone violence like that which occurred in Berkeley?
Do they approve of mobs that prevent conservative speakers from being heard?
And, if they don’t, will they stop funding [AfGJ]?
This prompted a response from Adam Banker of Media Relations at Fidelity Charitable. In his email, Banker stated that Fidelity Charitable is a national donor-advised fund and that such funds “are cause-neutral charitable giving vehicles that enable those who fund their own donor-advised fund accounts to recommend grants from those accounts to IRS-qualified, 501(c)(3) public charities.” Grants “recommended by donors do not, in any way, represent an endorsement by Fidelity Charitable or Fidelity Investments.” (Again, Bank of America Charitable Gift Fund and the Schwab Charitable Fund also provide donor-advised funds.)
Fair enough. However, this writer replied to Banker by asking if Fidelity would allow future donations to the AfGJ now that it was aware AfGJ sponsored a violent group like Refuse Fascism. Banker did not respond. I followed up with Banker for this article, and posed the same question to the Aetna Foundation, Schwab Charitable Fund, Bank of America Charitable Foundation, and Bank of America Charitable Gift Fund. Only Schwab Charitable responded:
Schwab Charitable account holders recommend grants to charities of their choice. These recommendations do not reflect the views of Schwab Charitable, its management, or employees.
Our role is not to encourage or discourage individuals from making donations to specific, eligible charities. Our role is to ensure that charities are eligible to receive grants recommended by donors. The Internal Revenue Service determines which organizations are eligible charities, and we rely on the IRS’s judgment. We verify each organization’s charitable status regularly, and if a charity loses its eligible status, we stop approving grants to that organization.
Apparently corporate donor-advised funds will facilitate donations to a tax-exempt organization regardless of what that organization does or believes.
Is AfGJ Really ‘Communist’?
Calling an organization communist is potentially inflammatory and, in some cases, defamatory. The term has very negative connotations in the United States, albeit well-deserved ones. Thus, it is important to be precise when defining communism.
A communist is someone who, in theory, supports an economic and social system in which all property and resources are controlled by a classless society and not by individuals. In practice, being a communist means supporting a government run by a small elite whose members control most of society’s resources and put severe restrictions on individual liberty.
Does AfGJ fit that definition? The “Our Principles” page of the AfGJ’s website proclaims, “We are anti-capitalist without rigidly adhering to any one utopian alternative economic model.” It also states, “We support group rights as equal to or superior to the rights of individuals articulated by 18th Century European men.” Anti-capitalist, utopian economic model, group rights over individual rights—that fits the first part of the definition of communist quite well.
But what about the second part? There are two countries in the world that few would dispute are run by communist regimes, Cuba and North Korea. James Jordan, an employee of AfGJ, boasts that he “got to visit Cuba before Pres[ident] Obama did. There was not nearly the fanfare, but I can say I experienced some moments of warmth that may have even exceeded what the president encountered.”
Jordan visited the island prison twice in 2015. In his description of his visits he focuses on “myths that persist until this day” that “have been the driving force shaping US policy towards Cuba.” One of those myths is that there is no freedom of religion in Cuba. Jordan says, “I can say categorically in both of my visits that I saw absolutely no evidence of any kind of suppression of the right to worship, or not to worship, as one pleased.” One suspects he didn’t look too hard.
Another myth is that “there is no freedom of speech or dissent and that censorship is rampant” in Cuba. Jordan writes, “I did hear dissent openly expressed. More often I heard nuanced criticisms of the government made by persons who were nonetheless supportive, but they recognized some problems and had ideas on how to make things better.” Jordan follows that up with this whopper:
My general impression was that the Cuban people I spoke with, whether dissidents, critical supporters or 100% gung-ho fans of the socialist government seemed significantly less paranoid and worried about surveillance and government repression than my fellow Leftist activists living here in the United States, especially since passage of the Patriot Act and its spawn. It amazes me that pundits in the United States will still drone on about the lack of freedom in Cuba, and that many find these over-the-top pronouncements to be valid. They seem to forget or ignore that we are living in the nation with the world’s largest rate of incarceration of its population (even though crime rates have been going down since the 1970s), in a land where people just assume the NSA, FBI and a variety of other initials are keeping tabs on us, in a nation that in fact has hundreds of political prisoners.
We in the U.S. can laugh ourselves silly at Jordan’s useful idiocy. Armando Valladares and Óscar Elías Biscet, dissidents who spent decades in Fidel Castro’s gulags, would no doubt be less amused.
The staff at AfGJ are also able to suspend disbelief regarding the totalitarian nightmare that is North Korea. Stansfield Smith, a committed Marxist and frequent contributor to AfGJ’s website, visited North Korea in 2013 when tensions were particularly high over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. On AfGJ’s website Smith wrote, “I asked my Korean tours guides to be interviewed so I could present their views to US people” on the escalating tension in the region.
Smith took at face value his tour guides’ claims that the tension was due to American, South Korean, and Japanese hostility, that North Korea developed nuclear weapons to protect itself from U.S. aggression, and that North Korea negotiated with the U.S. over nuclear weapons “but the U.S. broke agreements, and increased sanctions five times.”
The biggest howler came in response to Smith’s question about the effect of U.S. sanctions:
The sanctions affect every household, every individual in (North Korea). There are power cuts, a heating and energy shortage, a food problem. Even you visiting tourists are affected by the sanctions, as you see with your hotels. There is a lack of oil and spare parts for machinery.
For loyal communists in an organization like AfGJ it is axiomatic that North Korea’s economic problems are the result of U.S. “aggression.” It would never occur to them that such problems are the result of Pyongyang’s central planning. Nor does it occur to Smith that his tour guides are toeing the party line because if they didn’t, they’d be lined up and shot.
It’s not clear how anyone can be so patently deluded decades after the barbarity of communist regimes all over the world has become common knowledge. What is clear is that AfGJ does its best to put a warm, kind face on two of the most brutal regimes on the planet. As such, AfGJ fits the second part of the definition of communist to a T.
Hard Core Left-Wing Leadership
The Alliance for Global Justice finds its origins in an organization founded in 1979 called the Nicaragua Network, a group that was dedicated to supporting the Marxist Sandinista regime in Nicaragua. By the 1990s the Nicaragua Network was running a number of international campaigns involving World Bank protests and labor rights. According to AfGJ’s website, when a group named Nicaragua Network tried to organize campaigns that had little to do with Nicaragua, it confused its activists and donors. In response, members of the Nicaragua Network formed the Alliance for Global Justice in 1998.
AfGJ was initially headquartered in Washington, D.C. It still maintains an office there, and its most recent IRS filing lists a telephone number with DC’s 202 area code, but in 2013 AfGJ moved its primary headquarters to Tucson, Arizona, according to its IRS disclosures.
Katherine Hoyt and Chuck Kaufman have served as “National Co-Coordinators” for AfGJ, which they joined as staff members in 2003. Both have long histories of involvement in far-left causes. Hoyt received a Ph.D. in political science from Rutgers University. In the 1960s, she moved to Nicaragua where in 1967 she married Dr. Bayardo Gonzalez. She was an active supporter of the Sandinistas prior to their overthrow of the corrupt Somoza regime.
When the Sandinistas advanced against the Somoza government in 1979, she and her husband permitted the Sandinista guerrillas to use her house. At one point, according to Hoyt, the guerillas stockpiled Molotov cocktails in her dining room.
After the coup, Hoyt went to work for the Sandinista government, ultimately working as a translator for the national legislature. After leaving Nicaragua, she was involved in numerous leftist groups and causes, including the Nicaraguan Network, the Pledge of Resistance, and the Michigan Interfaith Committee on Central American Human Rights. Recently, she stepped down as a Co-Coordinator for AfGJ but has stayed on as an advisor.
Kaufman has long been active in anti-war movements and Latin American “Solidarity” networks. His biography states that he was one of the original founders of International ANSWER, the communist group with affinity for North Korea mentioned earlier. More recently, he has been coordinator of the Nicaragua Network and Venezuela Solidarity Network.
AfGJ provides fiscal sponsorship services that fund groups that do not have 501(c)(3) nonprofit status from the Internal Revenue Service. This means AfGJ is a “pass through” entity that allows donors who want to give to a group that lacks tax-exempt status to donate instead to the AfGJ. This mechanism helps individual donors, who may now deduct the donation from their income taxes, and also helps foundation donors, who are generally forbidden to give to groups that lack nonprofit status. It also helps the groups that finally receive the monies, because they don’t have to report on their activities to the public and, if convenient, they can pop up, perform legally dubious actions, and then disappear with no accountability. AfGJ takes a 7 to 8 percent administrative fee from the money that it passes on to other groups.
The purpose of AfGJ’s fiscal sponsorship service, according to its IRS filing, is “to help the progressive movement grow and gain more influence on regional, national, and international levels.” AfGJ claims to have supported over 85 groups in this manner.
Who’s the Fascist?
On February 1, 2017, a group of about 150 masked thugs rioted before the scheduled speech of conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos at U.C. Berkeley. They caused injuries and over $100,000 worth of property damage on campus and, according to the Downtown Berkeley Association, another $400,000 to $500,000 worth of damage elsewhere. The university cancelled Yiannopoulos’ speech.
A group calling itself Refuse Fascism organized the thugs. Refuse Fascism was launched in December 2016 as the Left lost its collective mind in the wake of Donald Trump’s election victory. Its website proclaims, “It’s Fascism: Drive Out the Trump/Pence Regime!”
Its leaders appeared to have no compunctions about causing the Berkeley riot, because they brag it was “righteous.” Calling Yiannopoulos a “major fascist operative,” Refuse Fascism justified shutting down his speech” with the assertion, “Milo Yiannopoulos is not engaging in ‘free speech.’ He is consciously spearheading the Nazification of the American University.” Lastly, Refuse Fascism declared, “These protests should be supported and defended by all those who value critical thought.”
Yet if one visits Refuse Fascism’s website, it becomes readily apparent that critical thinking is not the group’s strong suit. The website never actually explains why the Trump administration or Yiannopoulos are fascist. (Perhaps Mike Pence goosesteps into his office every day, or Milo’s cameraman wears a brown shirt?) The silliest part of the website is the page that purports to list Trump’s “crimes against humanity,” which include revoking “federal guidelines that mandated transgender students have the right to use public restrooms that match their gender identity,” signing “a law giving states the option to deny funding for Planned Parenthood and other organizations that provide legal abortions,” and refusing “to hold regular press briefings; attack[ing] and threaten[ing] individual reporters and news outlets, and… tweet[ing] a video of himself beating up a CNN reporter.” Refuse Fascism doesn’t explain how such actions rise to the level of, say, genocide.
AfGJ didn’t appear to have any regrets about being a pass-through for Refuse Fascism. When the Daily Caller contacted AfGJ about Refuse Fascism’s role in the Berkeley riot, Co-coordinator Kaufman responded, “AfGJ acts as fiscal sponsor for Refuse Fascism which means we process tax-deductible donations for them. As long as their use of the money falls into areas permitted for tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations, we don’t involve ourselves one way or the other in their program work.” Just a guess, but provoking a riot probably doesn’t qualify for tax-exempt status.
More recently, Refuse Fascism claimed to be a big part of protests at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. Those protests turned violent as well, with hundreds of police officers injured. It’s not clear whether Refuse Fascism took part in the violence.
Despite the riot in Berkeley, AfGJ still assists Refuse Fascism. The fundraising part of Refuse Fascism’s website states: “To support our educational activities and make a tax-deductible donation by mail, make your check out to Alliance for Global Justice” … designate Refuse Fascism in the memo and mail to the address above. RefuseFascism.org is a fiscally sponsored project of the Alliance for Global Justice, a registered 501(c)3.”
It seems hypocritical for an organization like AfGJ, which supposedly promotes “peace” around the world, to support a violent group. But AfGJ’s commitment to peace is just a matter of convenience. The group states in its principles that, “We do not criticize the strategies and tactics of authentic organizations of the oppressed. Our parent organization, the Nicaragua Network, was founded to support an armed revolution.” It claims to respect pacifism but does “not support imposing that personal belief on others, especially the marginalized and oppressed.” The leaders of AfGJ see their role as articulating the “priorities of our oppressed partners rather than to tell them what we think is best for them.” Presumably Refuse Fascism is somehow an “oppressed group,” and thus AfGJ won’t criticize its strategies and tactics, even violent ones.
Ultimately, what may be most disturbing about Refuse Fascism, aside from its violent nature, is the irony of its name. After all, what the group did at Berkeley came much closer to resembling Kristallnacht than anything the Trump administration or Yiannopoulos has done.
Other “Solidarity” Projects
Since 2000, AfGJ has raised over $2.2 million in grants for an organization called the Chiapas Media Project. Chiapas is the southernmost state of Mexico and the base of operations for the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, known more commonly as the Zapatistas. While it is hard to nail down the exact ideology of the Zapatistas, it is undoubtedly a left-wing movement.
The Chiapas Media Project bills itself as a “bi-national partnership that provided video equipment, computers and training enabling marginalized indigenous communities in Southern Mexico to create their own media.” “Marginalized indigenous communities” is a euphemism for Zapatista supporters, as is clear from the documentaries produced with support from the Chiapas Media Project. Some documentaries display this in their titles, such as We Are Equal: Zapatista Women Speak and The Silence of the Zapatistas.
For other videos, one has a look a bit beyond the title. For example, the description of The Sacred Land states:
For more then [sic] 500 years indigenous people in Chiapas have been struggling to regain ownership of their lands. Until the Zapatista uprising in 1994, most indigenous people in Chiapas existed by working on large plantations for rich landowners.… Produced in the autonomous municipality of “November 17th” and edited by indigenous video makers, The Sacred Land helps provide a context for the events of 1994 through unique insight into the past. Community members reflect on how life has changed since 1994 and express their hopes and dreams for their collective future.
Is this really a documentary showing the struggles of indigenous people in Chiapas, or is it a veiled justification for the violence unleashed by the Zapatistas? One can’t find out for free since the documentaries are not available on YouTube. Rather, this leftist organization sells its videos for $20 each online.
If supporters of the Zapatistas are filming these documentaries, chances are slim that these films come anywhere close to an objective look at the violent conflict between the Zapatistas and the Mexican government. They are more likely pro-Zapatista propaganda that the filmmakers and their funders are trying to pass off as examinations of “indigenous people.” Little wonder, then, that AfGJ has been so active in the funding of the Chiapas Media Project.
The other groups that are part of AfGJ’s fiscal sponsorship run the gamut of left-wing causes: pro-Palestine, remnants of Occupy Wall Street, LGBT, pro-illegal immigration, anti-prison, and anti-police (a.k.a. Black Lives Matter), and environmentalism. Of particular note are groups like The FANG Collective and We Are Cove Point. FANG, which is short for Fighting Against Natural Gas, and We Are Cove Point are anti-fracking organizations. Although study after study has shown fracking to be safe, that hasn’t put a dent in the Left’s anti-fracking activism.
As with many groups supported by AfGJ, FANG and We Are Cove Point engage in civil disobedience, i.e., breaking the law to harass private citizens and businesses. Recently, a member of We Are Cove Point was arrested for trespassing on a construction site and trying to deliver a “People’s eviction notice” to Dominion Construction. In November 2016, FANG activists used bike locks to chain themselves to the door of a TD Bank in Providence, Rhode Island, because TD Bank funded construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
AfGJ’s support for anti-fracking groups seems particularly ironic, if not hypocritical, given its constant cries for economic justice. According to one analysis, the fracking boom has created over 4.6 million jobs. Many of those jobs go to working-class people, people that socialists like AfGJ pretend to fight for.
Why AfGJ Matters
It would be easy to dismiss AfGJ as an insignificant group that takes in about $2 million in revenue annually—a relatively small amount for a group trying to exert both national and international influence. That, however, would be a mistake.
First, many of its employees, such as Hoyt and Kaufman, are experienced organizers who have considerable skills at mobilizing the left-wing grassroots. Additionally, the costs of organizing are much less today than they were a quarter century ago, thanks to the Internet and social media. Just consider the beginning of Refuse Fascism, which AfGJ participated in. Within two months of its founding, the group had enough organizational prowess to cause a riot and shut down a speech at UC Berkeley. Barely eight months later (July 15) it was able to organize nationwide protests.
Of course, organizing is of limited use if people aren’t buying what you’re selling. In more normal times, when the economy was more robust and the political landscape was less polarized, AfGJ would probably be finding its radicalism a hard sell. The group wouldn’t be much more than an irritant, occasionally causing problems, but seldom doing any long-term damage.
But these are not normal times. The U.S. economy has been sluggish for years, and as the recent presidential election suggested, the electorate is more polarized than at any time since the 1960s. In such times many people, especially young people, are looking for easy explanations and simple solutions. Communist organizations like AfGJ are eager to provide them.
Another reason to be concerned is that here in the U.S. and in other nations, a particular demographic is ripe for exploitation by groups like AfGJ: a class of young people who are well-educated but either unemployed or underemployed. Seduced by the false promises of a college education, they often major in soft subjects like sociology or ethnic and gender studies. After they graduate, they find such degrees have little value in the job market, and if they find employment, it’s often in jobs that do not require a college degree. Worse, they’ve often piled up thousands of dollars in student loans that will take decades to pay off. This is borne out by surveys of protesters. A poll of Occupy Wall Street found that 49 percent of the participants were under age 30, and 33 percent were either unemployed or underemployed. A recent study of a left-wing protest in Berlin found 72 percent of the participants under age 30, 92 percent still living with their parents, and a third unemployed.
As the economist Thomas Sowell noted, “People who have acquired academic degrees, without acquiring any economically meaningful skills, not only face personal disappointment and disaffection with society, but also have often become negative factors in the economy and even sources of danger especially when they lash out at economically successful minorities and ethnically polarize the whole society they live in.”
This is a phenomenon that has occurred in many nations throughout history, including the former Czechoslovakia, India, Hungary, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Romania, Sri Lanka, and Canada. And now it may be playing out in the United States. Groups like AfGJ will fan the flames of these young people’s resentments, focusing their ire on corporations, wealthy people, and conservatives. Fan it enough, and eventually many of these people will act out violently, causing millions of dollars in property damage, injuries, and perhaps even death. Berkeley and Hamburg may be portents of things to come.
David Hogberg is a writer living in Maryland. He is author of Medicare’s Victims: How the U.S. Government’s Largest Health Care Program Harms Patients and Impairs Physicians.
 There is a Seattle, Washington-based group called the “Community Alliance for Global Justice.” This is a separate entity unrelated to the Tucson-based group.