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Nonprofit news roundup for Aug. 1, 2008

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Senators to give Stevens’ contributions to charities

Republican senators facing re-election challenges are promising to donate to charities the amount of campaign contributions they received from the political action
committee of Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, The Anchorage Daily News reported July 30. (see Republicans story). Stevens, indicted by a grand jury on seven corruption charges, has pleaded not guilty. Recipients of money raised by his political-action committee, Northern Lights, include Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, who chairs the Republican Conference. Each said he would make $10,000 in donations. Among other senators who made similar promises: Norm Coleman of Minnesota, who is giving up $20,000; and Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina and Pat Roberts of Kansas, each of whom is giving $10,000 to a campaign to fight hunger.

Despite GOP concerns, Acorn should benefit from housing bill

Acorn, a housing advocacy group also known for its far-reaching voter-registration drives, is likely to be among the biggest beneficiaries of the housing bill signed into law July 30 by President Bush, The Wall Street Journal reported July 31 (see housing crunch story). The bill, for which Acorn’s advocacy arm lobbied hard, provides nearly $5 billion for affordable housing, financial counseling and mortgage restructuring for imperiled homeowners. Acorn is co-managing a $15.9 million campaign with the group Project Vote to register 1.2 million low-income black and Hispanic voters. Republicans raised objections to the legislation, fearing federal housing money could wind up being used to support voter-registration drives that heavily favor Democratic candidates.

Telemarketing group spent funds solicited for charity

Insiders at the American Deputy Sheriffs Association benefited from at least $400,000 in perks ranging from golf tournaments to dinners at Hooters over a period of four
years, and donors paid for it all, The Orange County Register reported July 30 (see telemarketing story). The group, formally known as ADSA, was ordered to stop raising money earlier this year by a court-appointed receiver. The association, one of several charities assembled by Mitch Gold, a telemarketer who eventually served
six years in prison for mail fraud, raised $38.7 million from 1999 through 2007. Regulators in 14 states banned, restricted or fined the group before Ohio seized control of the organization in August 2004.

Smithsonian’s American history museum to reopen Nov. 21

Following two years of renovations, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is set to reopen Nov. 21, the Associated Press reported July 31 (see history museum story ). The made-over museum will include a new gallery spotlighting the American flag and a temporary exhibit of Abraham Lincoln’s handwritten copy of the Gettysburg Address, which is usually kept in the Lincoln Bedroom in the White House’. The reopening, originally scheduled for this summer, was delayed by the discovery of asbestos and lead paint.

Columbia professor tops nonprofit earning list

Dr. David Silvers, a Columbia University dermatology professor, earns more than $4.8 million a year, putting him at the top of a list of highest-paid employees of nonprofits throughout the U.S., the New York Daily News reported July 31 (see nonprofit salary story).
“Clearly, this is way outside of the normal range,” says Ken Berger, president of Charity Navigator, which released the report. Silvers, 65, a skin-cancer specialist who heads the dermatopathology lab at Columbia’s Medical Center, owns a $1.3 million Tribeca apartment, plus a home on Park Avenue and one in Southampton worth $1 million. Columbia defended Silvers’ compensation saying he has “significant responsibilities” directing a highly specialized lab.

In brief:

* Virginia Tech is closing in on its $1 billion fundraising goal after less than a year into the public phase of the campaign, the Associated Press reported . Total pledges as of June 30 were $683.5 million.

* In the wake of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s cancellation of an international tour due to shaky economic conditions, other major American classical ensembles are going with their own plans for trips abroad, The New York Times reported July 31.

* A new group devoted to exploring the ethics and most effective methods of fundraising from children and young people has been launched by the Institute of Fundraising in the United Kingdom, Professional Fundraising reported July 25.

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