May 24, 2013, 10:22 am
A Pennsylvania State House committee will hold hearings next month aimed at determining whether nonprofit organizations are engaging in illicit politicking, the Pennsylvania Independent reports.
Republican Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, chairman of the House State Government Committee, said the June 5 hearing would focus on how Pennsylvania’s state’s campaign-finance laws are being applied and enforced.
Mr. Metcalfe said the session was prompted by the actions of Pennsylvanians for Accountability, a Pittsburgh-based 501(c)(4) group that has run television ads attacking Republican Gov. Tom Corbett and four GOP lawmakers. “Based on the way they are operating, they appear to be a political committee more than anything else,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the organization said its primary purpose was not political but to advocate publicly about the governor’s budget plans. She called the hearing…
May 24, 2013, 10:18 am
Detroit’s state-appointed emergency manager has asked the Detroit Institute of Art for an appraisal of its collection, sparking concerns in cultural and philanthropic circles that he intends to auction off valuable works as he tackles the city’s long-term debt woes, according to Reuters.
Bill Nowling, a spokesman for emergency manager Kevyn Orr, said there are no plans for a fire sale of the museum’s holdings, which include works by Van Gogh, Matisse, Rodin, Rembrandt, and other masters.
Mr. Nowling said Thursday the appraisal is part of an effort to have information at the ready when Detroit’s creditors, who will be asked to absorb considerable losses, ask about the city’s assets. “We obviously don’t want to get rid of art,” he said.
May 24, 2013, 10:13 am
The director of the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden announced his resignation Thursday after the institution’s board was unable to reach a decision on moving forward with his signature project, a $15.5-million inflatable structure informally known as the “Bubble,” says The Washington Post.
Richard Koshalek, who arrived at the Hirshhorn in 2009 and strongly backed the addition, will leave his post by the end of the year. The Seasonal Inflatable Structure, as it is officially known, would periodically turn the interior courtyard of the doughnut-shaped museum into an enclosed space for discussions and special events. But the project, launched in late 2009, has been plagued by delays, and its estimated cost has tripled.
“The board was divided and could not reach a decision,” Smithsonian Undersecretary Richard Kurin said. “I think Richard was looking for a very…
May 24, 2013, 10:05 am
Billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, have donated $40-million more to the Birthright Israel Foundation, which sponsors trips by young American Jews to Israel, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports.
The Adelsons are major contributors to Jewish causes in Israel and the United States, including the Yad Vashem holocaust museum in Jerusalem and the Zionist Organization of America. They have now given a total of $180-million to Birthright.
“Exposing young Jews to Israel helps broaden their awareness and deepen their cultural identity. We are committed to the goal of all young Jewish adults having the opportunity to be inspired by their ancestral homeland,” Miriam Adelson said.
May 24, 2013, 9:40 am
Acting Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Danny Werfel tapped Ken Corbin, a 27-year IRS employee, as acting head of the agency’s exempt-organizations division after its embattled leader, Lois Lerner, was placed on administrative leave, the Los Angeles Times writes.
The move Thursday followed Ms. Lerner’s refusal to testify about the division’s heightened scrutiny of conservative organizations applying for nonprofit status. Appearing Wednesday before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, she read a statement but invoked her Fifth Amendment right to refuse to answer questions.
Mr. Corbin is currently deputy director of the IRS office that processes tax returns. In an e-mail to the agency staff, Mr. Werfel said Mr. Corbin’s experience and management background made him “an ideal choice to help lead the exempt organizations area through this difficult period.”…
May 24, 2013, 9:27 am
Taking a step the Boy Scouts of America’s chief executive called “compassionate, caring, and kind,” the organization voted on Thursday to abandon its longstanding policy of denying membership to openly gay youths, The New York Times writes.
The ban, which the Scouts publicly reaffirmed as recently as last July, will end in January 2014. More than 60 percent of some 1,400 volunteer scouting leaders meeting in Texas supported the policy change, which was backed by CEO Wayne Brock and other top national scouting officials.
Gay activists praised the move but said they will continue to press the Boy Scouts, and the organization’s donors, to reverse a ban on homosexual adults serving as troop leaders, which remains in place. Conservative groups that opposed any change in the Scouts’ policy on sexual orientation predicted a mass exodus of parents and children from the organization….
May 23, 2013, 6:26 pm
The Boy Scouts of America on Thursday voted to end its longstanding policy of forbidding openly gay youths to participate in its activities, but it will continue to ban adults who are gay from leading troops, The New York Times reports.
See this Chronicle article on the fundraising stakes for the organization as it weighed this decision.
May 23, 2013, 6:07 pm
Lois Lerner, the Internal Revenue Service official who oversees charities and who has been at the center of the scandal over the scrutiny of conservative groups, was placed on administrative leave as of Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reports.
See this Chronicle report on her testimony to Congress on Wednesday.
May 23, 2013, 10:26 am
The Boy Scouts of America’s national council, meeting this week in Grapevine, Tex., is slated to vote today on whether to lift its longtime ban on admitting openly gay boys into its ranks, reports the Associated Press. The proposal leaves in place the prohibition on openly gay adults serving as Scout leaders.
The organization’s membership remains deeply divided on the issue, according to The New York Times.
Read more Chronicle coverage of the Scouts’ proposal and its impact on donors.
May 23, 2013, 10:26 am
The decision by Lois Lerner, head of the Internal Revenue Service’s tax-exempt division, to plead the Fifth Amendment during her appearance before a House committee on Wednesday was “a huge loss for anyone who really wanted to know what happened” when an office of the bureau singled out conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, writes David Firestone in a New York Times commentary. The agency’s Cincinnati office has been accused of being overzealous in its vetting of Tea Party-affiliated organizations. Firestone writes that Ms. Lerner’s choice, while understandable from a legal perspective, will most likely fuel continuing and counterproductive speculation.
Read more of The Chronicle’s coverage of the IRS controversy.