At the height of the pre-election Islamophobia hysteria centered around the “Ground Zero mosque”/Islamic interfaith community center, we told you about how an anti-Islam DVD that was sent to 28 million swing-state voters in 2008 was still helping to fuel that hysteria.
We also told you that making and sending all those DVDs cost the Clarion Fund, which made the movie, about $16 million — all funded by one single, anonymous donor.
We still don’t know for sure who that donor is and, because of IRS laws protecting the names of nonprofit donors, maybe we never will.
What we do know is this:
As the newsletter Counterpunch points out, a group called Donors Capital Trust reported on its 2008 tax returns that it had given more than $17 million to the Clarion Fund in 2008, in nine installments.
That solves it right? Not quite. Donors Capital Trust is an organization that donates money for big donors. Donors set up an account (with a $1 million minimum), which the group invests and then disburses, based on the wishes of the donor. It specifically gives to groups that promote “freedom,” i.e., “limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise.”
And we don’t know who directed the money to be donated. But, as Justin Elliott over at Salon dug up yesterday, the Clarion Fund accidentally made public an IRS filing that shows the donor’s name. It’s listed as Barry Seid.
Someone who can dish out $17 million probably has somewhat of a press trail, right? But there may as well be no Barry Seid, according to Google and Nexis.
There is, however, a Barre Seid. Barre Seid is the president of Tripp-Lite, a global company which makes surge protectors. The Barbara and Barre Seid Foundation has given tens of millions over the years to hundreds of causes, many of them conservative or libertarian (think school choice, term limits, the Cato Institute, etc.) and pro-Israel. He’s also donated to groups whose mission is similar to Clarion Fund, like the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
As Elliott points out, he’s exactly the kind of person who would donate to Clarion Fund.
It’s not quite so easy, however. The director of Seid’s foundation says he did not make the donation to the Clarion Fund. She did not respond to calls, from TPM or Elliott, asking if he had directed Donors Capital to make the donation.
And although Seid made a $25,000 donation to Donors Capital in 2006, he did not give anything in 2008 — at least not through his foundation. It is possible that he’s had an account there for years, one that’s grown large enough to make the $17 million donation.
Clarion also denied that Seid made the donation, telling Elliott there was an error on the IRS filing.