continued Ross and Malkin also run M&R Strategic Services, described by the Capital District Business Review as "a government affairs and media relations firm with offices in Albany; Washington, D.C.; New York City; and Portland, Oregon. Staff at M&R complement the work of Malkin & Ross, doing outreach to and organizing of grassroots groups, and supporting campaigns with public relations activities."
Essential Information, the foundation that is reported to have given $110,000 to the anti-Zimmerman campaign, is based in Washington, D.C. According to its website, the foundation was founded in 1982 by Ralph Nader and provides "provocative information to the public on important topics neglected by the mass media and policy makers." It publishes a monthly magazine called the Multinational Monitor, which features articles with headlines such as "Corporate Pigs and Other Tales of Agribusiness," "Big Business Looks to Sew Up the Chinese Market," and "The World Bank: Fifty Years Is Enough!"
In addition to the Multinational Monitor magazine, the foundation publishes "Spotlight on Corporations," which, its website says, features "data on corporate wrongdoing. Our data sources include litigation, internal company documents, and government filings. We primarily publish important information that has been neglected by the mainstream press, or is in danger of being suppressed by corporate cover-up efforts."
Essential Information, according to its 1998 tax return, is run by Russell Mokhiber, a longtime anti-corporate activist. According to his website, Mokhiber is "one of the nation's leading authorities on corporate crime, is the editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter, a legal weekly, and the author of Corporate Crime and Violence: Big Business Power and the Abuse of the Public Trust."
"Corporations dominate our society," Mokhiber, 46, told the St. Petersburg Times in 1997. "Corporations are the only criminal class that has so marinated the lawmaking process with their money that they both define the law and influence enforcement of the law," he said. Last year Mokhiber told the New York Times that "Corporate crime is crime without shame. It's gotten to the point where when a corporation pleads guilty to some criminal act, the stock goes up."
According to the Times account, Mokhiber was born in Niagara Falls in Upstate New York, "where his father and several other family members were rank-and-file workers for Union Carbide. Mr. Mokhiber says that, even as a child, he was deeply troubled by the impact of industrial pollution on his community." He graduated from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., in 1976 and Antioch Law School in 1979. During law school, the paper says, Mokhiber worked for Nader's Corporate Accountability Research Group. "My politics were defined a lot by Niagara Falls -- and by Nader's influence," he told the paper. As of last year, the Times reported, Mokhiber lived on an organic farm in West Virginia, a 90-minute commute to Washington.
According to its 1998 tax return, Essential Information raised $672,000 in "direct public support" and had net assets of $166,000. Like Public Interest Project, Inc., Essential Information did not disclose its list of donor identities. That information, the return says, is "according to the regulations of the Internal Revenue Service...not available for inspection by the public."
Though neither foundation reveals its sources of income, another foundation that did make public its donor list says it gives to both Essential Information and Public Interest Project. The Benjamin Spencer Fund reported giving more than $200,000 to Public Interest Project in 1998. The money was earmarked for a variety of causes, including midwifery and the "Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada." The latter is a "coalition of labor, women's organizations, environmentalists, and trial lawyers" currently attempting to defeat a gay-marriage ban measure on this November's Nevada state ballot, according to an account in the Los Angeles Times. The Spencer Fund also gave $35,000 to Essential Information for what was listed as "general support."
Pam Maurath, an employee of Public Interest Project, confirmed in a telephone interview from New York last Friday that the foundation had contributed "between $55,000 to $60,000" to the Partnership for Student Achievement in San Diego, though she said she was "not aware" of its television-advertising campaign directed against Zimmerman. "This was something we felt was of consumer interest," Maurath said of a pitch for funds she said was made by the partnership.
Marauth added that she was not "personally aware" of how Public Interest Project, Inc. and the partnership got in touch with each other, but said the foundation never advertises its grants to the general public. "There would have to be some personal connection, oh, sure," she said. "We don't have a regular process by which we award grants. There would have to be some personal connection. You would definitely have to know somebody."
Are yet-to-be revealed special interests from San Diego using the two East Coast foundations to hide their contributions to the anti-Zimmerman campaign? Public Project president Donald Ross did not return repeated telephone calls to his offices in New York and Washington. Foundation boardmember Susan Stamler also did not return calls to her Brooklyn apartment. Essential Information's Mokhiber said in a telephone interview on Monday from his Washington office that he knew nothing about his group's contribution to the TV-ad buy and would "look into it" and call back. He never did and failed to return numerous follow-up phone calls. John Richard, another Washington, D.C.-based officer of the Essential Information foundation, also did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
In addition to Moores and Burnham, other major San Diego real estate players have turned up on lists of contributors to Zimmerman's foe, Julie Dubick, a partner in the downtown law firm of Seltzer, Caplan, which counts among its clients influential political players such as the Bill Evans family, owner of the Bahia and Catamaran hotels on Mission Bay. Earlier this year, the firm also represented an outfit called RNLN in lobbying the school board regarding a $16 million condemnation action against the company's property at the interchange of I-805 and Highway 52. Principals of RNLN, associates of that venture, as well as other members of the Seltzer, Caplan firm have also contributed heavily to the effort to oust Zimmerman.