Report: Kellogg Foundation, SEIU funded attacks on voter ID laws

David Martosko Executive Editor
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A progressive foundation and a labor union have combined to pour millions of dollars into a “racial justice” group that was hostile to voter ID laws during the 2012 campaign season, according to a conservative watchdog group in Wisconsin.

While True the Vote and other right-leaning campaigns were promoting ID requirements for voters and monitoring the implementation of ID laws at the state level, the Applied Research Center (ARC) was pushing back with claims that photo ID requirements at polling places were thinly veiled expressions of racism.

Media Trackers, the conservative Wisconsin group, reported Monday that the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, founded by breakfast cereal magnate Will Keith Kellogg in 1930, committed $5.2 million to ARC between 2010 and September 2012.

And in an unusually overt collaboration, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) paid ARC more than $200,000 in 2011, Media Trackers reported, earmarking the financial transfers as “consulting” fees.

Voter ID laws are generally supported by Republican politicians and opposed by Democrats. The SEIU, like other large labor unions, campaigned aggressively for President Barack Obama’s re-election.

Colorlines.com, an ARC website, created an election-year program in 2012 with the liberal magazine The Nation to provide “in-depth coverage of voter suppression efforts nationwide.”

Progressives have maintained that voter ID laws’ hidden purpose is to depress the voting power of racial minorities. Brentin Mock, a columnist at The Nation and reporter for the Colorlines.com “Voting Rights Watch 2012” project, wrote in October that requiring black voters to obtain a photo ID “eerily echo[es] literacy tests” and other Jim Crow laws.

True the Vote is a conservative nonprofit, founded to monitor polling places for integrity issues. Its website highlights voter fraud convictions in 46 states, and encouraged voters on Nov. 6 to report suspicious or fraudulent activity at polling places.

The group also combs voter rolls to look for deceased Americans, and for counties where the number of registered voters exceeds the adult population.

In response, ARC and other progressive groups have denied that voter fraud is pervasive in the United States. Mock accused True the Vote in May of using a “hoax — voter fraud — to block voting rights” of minorities.

Media Trackers noted that in the press release announcing the launch of Voting Rights Watch 2012, ARC executive director Rinku Sen complained of “attempts to deny the vote to communities of color.”

Sen is also a board member of Working America, a community organizing affiliate of the powerful and wealthy AFL-CIO labor union conglomerate.

The Kellogg Foundation launched its “American Healing” program in 2011, billed as a “racial equity initiative.” That program’s 2011 and 2012 conferences included presentations from ARC, La Raza, the NAACP, and other racialist groups.

The foundation and its principal financial trust reported combined assets of $7.58 billion for the fiscal year ending in August 2011, according to data provided to The Daily Caller by FoundationSearch.com. It awarded $28.3 million in “racial equity” grants in 2011, and has reported adding to that another $9 million so far in 2012.

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