Irony: Tax-Exempt MA Think Tank Crusading for Transparency and Full Disclosure in Government Hides Top Donors

Posted by on Jun 07, 2012 at 7:51 am

Hey, it’s Massachusetts and it’s a liberal group, so they obviously don’t have to comply with silly things like laws or anything.

The identities of a dozen top donors to a tax-exempt think tank that crusades for transparency and full disclosure in government are kept secret thanks to the group’s policy of allowing its supporters to protect their anonymity, a Herald investigation has found.

Two of the corporate contributors to MassINC’s top-level “Chairman’s Circle” — denoting donors who give a minimum of $100,000 — are listed as “anonymous” in the most recent issue of the nonprofit’s CommonWealth magazine.

One donor in the $25,000 contribution level is listed as “anonymous” and another secret donor is listed as giving at least $10,000.

There are eight more anonymous individual donors in the “Citizens Circle” — those who give a minimum of $1,000, according to MassINC publications.

“There are some groups who for whatever reason don’t want their names out there. They insist on anonymity,” said MassINC President Greg Torres, who told the Herald his nonprofit can’t afford to turn away donors.

“I am bound by the conditions of their gift to the organization,” he said.

Asked whether the public should know who contributes to a think tank that promises donors influence and a chance to “help shape public policies,” Torres said the public will just have to trust him.

“All I can do is reassure you that those who give anonymously tend to be people of substantial means and their interest in the organization is not to direct policy,” he said.

A front-page story in yesterday’s Herald revealed that MassINC has received millions from special interests, lobbyists, top Democratic politicians and state quasi-public agencies, such as Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority.

“It’s kind of a disgrace,” state Rep. Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton) told the Herald. “Now you have quasi-public organizations giving money to a think tank. We should probably be spending the money a little better.”

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