Government chills criticism, nonprofits say

Here are the week’s top nonprofit headlines reported elsewhere:

* A dozen or so charities say government agencies and Congressional offices have used reviews, audits, investigations, law-enforcement actions and threatened loss of federal funds to chill activities and advocacy that question government policies, The New York Times reported March 21.

* Radio host Don Imus is drawing scrutiny and tax officials because the 4,000-acre ranch in New Mexico that he and his wife opened in 1999 to help sick children, and for which they have given $1 million and raised $20 million, last year had expenses totaling $2.6 million but hosted only about 100 children, The Wall Street Journal reported March 24. Investigators for New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer are looking into accusations that Imus has used the ranch for personal getaways, The New York Times reported March 24.

* Congress is taking a hard look at nonprofits that may be in the lobbying business, including one formed by the lobbying firm of the former chief of staff of House Republican leader Tom Delay and funded by a Korean business executive, Time magazine reported March 28.

* Under Republican Gov. George Pataki, the 64-campus State University of New York is operating more like a private university, with the campuses raising $1 billion in donations since 1999, the state’s share of financing for academics down 55.6 percent from 68.6 percent for all four-year campuses, and tuition and fees up 75 percent since 1995, in part replacing taxpayer funds, The New York Times reported

* While the government estimates Australia’s nonprofit sector is worth $30 billion a year, research shows it may be worth more than twice that, with BRW magazine estimating the sector is worth $70 billion a year, including nearly $23 billion generated by churches, two-thirds of it by the Catholic Church, The Sydney Morning Herald reported March 23.

* A national database of nonprofits is being prepared in India, The New Indian Press reported March 20.

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