Foundation Trustees Are UnifiEd - And Response

Monday, July 8, 2019

 

Concentrated power assigned by foundation trustees in Hamilton County’s local elected boards is not good for us.

 

From 2014 to present, the oldest and wealthiest foundations in Chattanooga have executed a strategy to collect political power and control of the Hamilton County school board, and are currently inching towards control of the Hamilton County Commission. 

 

It is that simple.

 

Some would say, the foundations have always controlled Hamilton County elected.

If they have, it is time to nip this in the bud and reject their candidates for elected office.

 

The definition of power is the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events.  This is the current mode of operation of our local foundations seeking concentrated power in our local elected boards.

 

It also appears that the foundation trustees are seeking local political control, regardless of the means required to achieve that outcome.

 

The most important and offensive aspect to understand is: The trustees of our local foundations are also the founders of the nonprofit UnifiEd.

 

The second most important aspect to understand is: The foundation trustees are not using their personal financial resources for the political campaign work of the non-profit UnifiEd. Rather, the trustees of the foundations are diverting foundation trust funds marked for community good to the political non-profit organization UnifiEd for the purpose of winning elections.

 

It rains foundation trust money for political purposes at UnifiEd the non-profit, serving as the political proxy of the foundation trustees who vote to fund their nonprofit.

 

Our local Foundations funding UnifiEd are:

 

Benwood Foundation

Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga

Lyndhurst Foundation

Footprint Foundation

 

Make no mistake about UnifiEd campaigning for candidates. In the 2014 campaigns for school board, I witnessed UnifiEd non-profit employees at the Brainerd precinct transporting voters to the polls with marked sample ballots. This is an interesting use of foundation trust funds and estate trusts intended for the good and betterment of the community.

 

Over the course of the last six weeks, we all watched as UnifiEd engaged in Game of Thrones 101 during the proposed property tax increase debate, with Jonas Barriere sending the dragons after Hamilton County Commissioners, and Mayor Coppinger embracing UnifiEd’s will.  I understand that Mr. Barriere actually went to the homes of select commissioners unannounced.  

 

Jonas Barriere is a hired political organizer for UnifiEd and is carrying out the will of his bosses at the aforementioned foundations. I get that. After all, the foundations control Mr. Barriere’s paycheck.  Mr. Barriere was previously employed as the UnifiEd non-profit director in exchange for compensation of approximately $90,000 plus a year, and now operates the UnifiEd PAC. He is a highly qualified campaign manager, not a public education expert. 

 

There is not a shred of difference between the UnifiEd non-profit and the UnifiEd PAC, except source funding. These organizations operate seamlessly in activity, and share financial resources by their own admission. The UnifiEd PAC commonly reimburses the UnifiEd non-profit for shared resources, as noted in Mr. Barriere’s filing on behalf of the UnifiEd PAC that is currently available on the Hamilton County Election Commissions financial disclosure tab. 

 

Mr. Barriere was formerly employed with the Obama for America PAC and other union efforts, and operates UnifiEd’s political campaign efforts as the local foundation trustees direct him. 

 

The creators or founders of UnifiEd are also long-term foundation trustees that make it rain foundation cash at UnifiEd.

 

The primary foundation trustees that founded UnifiEd include:

 

Allison Leibowitz, as the founding president of UnifiEd the nonprofit, and president of the Lyndhurst Foundation.

 

Paul K. Brock, as founding UnifiEd board member and treasurer of UnifiEd the non-profit, and a compensated trustee of the Benwood Foundation. 

 

There are more trustees involved in UnifiEd, as they cycle playing musical board seats from 2014 to present.

 

UnifiEd Revenue:

 

2014:  533,374

2015: 477,221

2016: 650,941

2017: 635,907

 

$2,297,440 of foundation trust funds from 2014 through 2017 from 990 filings, and foundation funding of $3 million from 2014 through 2018.

 

UnifiEd’s nonprofit budget for campaign cycle 2016:

 

Page 1 of 2 :        https://ibb.co/kGxy3xR

Page 2 of 2:         https://ibb.co/T1HGKvh

 

Notes:

 

1                     As listed in the link to the 2016 UnifiEd non-profit budget. UnifiEd expended $6,088 on a voter database during the 2016 campaign cycle where UnifiEd candidates were elected to the school board. What kind of education non-profit needs a $6,000 voter database to help children?  UnifiEd is about winning elections.

 

2                     There is a disclosure delay of approximately 18 months due to year end non-profit 990 filings that follow the calendar year. The online grantee lists during this 18-month lapse time from online lists were acquired where possible, with the exception of the Community Foundation. Based upon the foundation’s online listing for 2018, it is reasonable to conclude that UnifiEd has received $3 million collectively from the Benwood, Community, Lyndhurst, and Footprint foundations.

 

The Foundations and Trustees Funding UnifiEd

 

•             Benwood Foundation

 

Current Trustees and Officers:

Wade Hinton, Paul K. Brock, Tim Kelly, Mitch Patel, Marty Robinson, Rebecca Suttles, Bill Chapin.

 

Benwood Funding of UnifiEd: 

Beginning in fiscal year 2014 through 2017, the Benwood Foundation funded UnifiEd at a rate of $300,000 annually, or $1.2 million for this period. That rate of funding continued through 2018, for a total of $1.5 million from the Benwood Foundation to UnifiEd the non-profit.  The 2019 records are not available at this time.  There is also pass through funding, or transfer of funds from the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga to Benwood Foundation designated for UnifiEd. The pass through funds convolute the identification of total funds. 

 

I am confident from records that the total amount of funding identifiable from Benwood Foundation to UnifiEd is $1.5 million for tax years 2014 through 2018.

 

UnifiEd Founders Also Serving as Benwood Trustees: 

Paul K. Brock is a founding board member of UnifiEd, and former president of the Benwood Foundation. Mr. Brock is compensated at a rate between $12,000 to $20,000 annually to serve as a trustee of Benwood Foundation. 

 

Paul K. Brock, as a Benwood Foundation trustee and UnifiEd founding board member has mammoth conflicts of interest. 

 

•             Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga

 

Current Trustees and Officers:

Tim Kelly, Barry Large, Elizabeth Williams, Ansley Moses, Julie Stowe, Stacy Johnson, Barry Large Travis Lytle, John Clark, Greg Willet, Dallas Joseph, Chantelle Roberson, Ray Ryan, Rondell Crier, Gladys Pineda.

 

Community Foundation Funding of UnifiEd:

It should be noted that the Community Foundation is the least transparent of the foundation trusts examined, and does not publish their list of funding recipients or grantees on their website. Further, the Community Foundation did not include their list of grantees on the GuideStar IRS 990 submittals. For fiscal years 2014 and 2015 combined, the Community Foundation funded UnifiEd for a total of $615,000. That level of giving continued into 2017 at $300,000.  

 

It is estimated from source documents that $915,000 of Community Foundation funds were transferred to UnifiEd 2014 through 2016.  The Community Foundation should release the full extent of their funding to UnifiEd in accordance with 990 transparency rules.

 

UnifiEd Contributors: 

Tim Kelly has also served on the Benwood Foundation as a trustee, and is a financial contributor to the UnifiEd PAC.  Sources have disclosed that Mr. Kelly plans to run for city of Chattanooga mayor.

 

•             Lyndhurst Foundation

 

Current Trustees and Officers: 

Alison G. Lebovitz, Benic M. Clark III, Katherine N. Currin, Stephen A. Culp, Kathleen S. Hunt, James O. Kennedy, James J. McGinness, Robert K. Mills, Robert C. Taylor, Jr., Margaret W. Townsend

 

Lyndhurst Funding to UnifiEd: 

From 2014 through 2017, the Lyndhurst Foundation granted $60,000 to UnifiEd. Further review of the Lyndhurst website indicates there have been no other identifiable distributions to UnifiEd from Lyndhurst.  Financial information is readily available, and Lyndhurst posts their grantees to date.  The public should appreciate the Lyndhurst level of transparency. 

 

UnfiEd Founders Also Serving as Lyndhurst Trustees:

Alison Lebovitz is a founding President of UnifiEd, UnifiEd board member, and Lyndhurst President.

 

•             Footprint Foundation

 

Current Trustees: 

Alice Smith, Jessica Montague, John Montague, Kristiana Montague, L. Thomas Montague

 

Footprint Funding to UnifiEd:

The Footprint has consistently provided $50,000 a year to UnifiEd for operational expenses beginning in 2014 through 2018, for a total of $250,000 for this period. It is believed that this financial support has continued through 2019 for a total of $300,000.

 

UnifiEd PAC Contributions from Trustees:

The name of two trustees of Footprint appears on the UnifiEd PAC campaign disclosure obtained from the Hamilton County Election Commission. 

 

I invite the above listed foundations to disclose their total giving to UnifiEd the non-profit UnifiEd from 2014 to present, and welcome any corrections. I wish to be accurate.

 

If the foundation trustees are going to rule Hamilton County as kings of our elected boards, political rules demand transparency.

 

April Eidson

 

* * * 

 

With the revelation of who is funding UnifiEd we know the names of who is pushing an attempt to adopt a huge social engineering scheme called APEX into the public schools of Hamilton County. So we need to ask the following questions:

 

Does UnifiEd have a plan for private schools’ participation in APEX?

How many of the children and grandchildren of those funding UnifiEd will be affected by the social engineering scheme called APEX? 

Many people endorsed APEX recently in the local paper. They told us it was important to balance the races, socio-economic groups and other demographics in every school. Some of them have children or grandchildren in private schools. So it’s absolutely necessary to know if private schools are part of this very costly plan which is predicted to be in every public school. And if private schools are not, why not?

We should demand of those proposing, financing and endorsing this scheme these questions before considering anything this massive and costly being adopted in our public schools.

Ralph Miller 


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