last updated: February 24, 2009
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The Scaife Foundations are a quartet of conservative foundations—the Sarah Scaife, the Carthage, the Allegheny, and the Scaife Family—that have served as the primary vehicles for the philanthropic activities of Richard Mellon Scaife, a major patron of the American Right for decades whose wealth was estimated by Forbes in 2008 to be $1.4 billion.1 The Scaife Foundations’ support for groups like the American Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation, and Hoover Institution have been instrumental in pushing right-wing domestic and foreign policy agendas, from the anti-communism of the 1970s to the neoconservative ideas that influenced the George W. Bush administration’s “war on terror.”2
A 1999 Washington Post profile of Scaife credited his philanthropy as having a singular role in nurturing the conservative movement: “Scaife and his family’s charitable entities have given at least $340 million to conservative causes and institutions—about $620 million in current dollars, adjusted for inflation. The total of Scaife’s giving—to conservatives as well as many other beneficiaries—exceeds $600 million, or $1.4 billion in current dollars, much more than any previous estimate. In the world of big-time philanthropy, there are many bigger givers. The Ford Foundation gave away $491 million in 1998 alone. But by concentrating his giving on a specific ideological objective for nearly 40 years, and making most of his grants with no strings attached, Scaife’s philanthropy has had a disproportionate impact on the rise of the right, perhaps the biggest story in American politics in the last quarter of the 20th century.”3
Financing for these foundations is largely drawn from the oil, aluminum, and banking holdings of the Mellon family. Scaife is the sole donor to both the Carthage and Allegheny Foundations, which he founded and of which he serves as chairman. He also serves as chairman and head of the Sarah Scaife Foundation, a position he assumed following his mother’s death in 1965.4
The Carthage Foundation “confines most of its grant awards to programs that will address public policy questions concerned with national and international issues.” The foundation’s 2007 annual report lists Scaife as chairman of the board, R. Daniel McMichael as secretary, Michael W. Gleba as treasurer, Alexis J. Konkol as assistant secretary, and Roger W. Robinson Jr. as assistant treasurer.5
The Sarah Scaife Foundation, named after Richard Scaife’s mother, targets “public policy programs that address major domestic and international issues.” Its 2007 annual report lists Michael W. Gleba as executive vice president; Barbara L. Slaney as vice president and treasurer; R. Daniel McMichael as secretary; and Yvonne Marie Bly as assistant treasurer.6
The Allegheny Foundation “concentrates its giving in the Western Pennsylvania area and confines most of its grant awards to programs for historic preservation, civic development, and education.” The foundation lists only two officers: Scaife, chairman, and Mathew A. Groll, executive director.7
The Scaife Family Foundation broke away from the other three in the early 2000s. According to the Palm Beach Post, Scaife’s daughter, Jennie, moved the foundation’s offices to Palm Beach, Florida, after differences arose concerning the foundation’s support for Planned Parenthood.8 Jennie claimed the Scaife Family Foundation “became more independent from her family in 2000.” As of 2003, the Scaife Family Foundation was “increasingly giving a higher percentage of money to drug-treatment programs, disease-fighting groups, and colleges than it grants to think tanks, though it still financially backs measures to restrict immigration and abolish affirmative action.”9
McMichael is listed as secretary of both the Carthage and Sarah Scaife foundations. He is one of the persons credited with helping Scaife overcome his alcoholism in the early 1990s. His areas of responsibility are foreign policy and national security. He is the author of a Scaife-funded novel about a Russian takeover of the United States.10
Richard M. Larry and R. Daniel McMichael have also played prominent roles in the three foundations. The Washington Post reports, “Both [Larry and McMichael] developed relationships with the conservative activists who guided Scaife’s philanthropy, and brought system and order to the process of giving the money away along with their own strong beliefs.” Larry, who has served on three Scaife foundations, stepped down as president in 2001 for health reasons.11
Origins and History
Scaife’s philanthropic activities began in 1962, when he gave several grants to various organizations, including the American Bar Association’s Fund for Public Education for “education against communism.” Scaife subsequently developed funding relations with the American Enterprise Institute, the Hoover Institution, and Georgetown University’s Center for Strategic and International Studies.12 In 1974, Scaife provided the seed money, along with beer magnate Joseph Coors, to help establish the Heritage Foundation, which has become one of the largest and most influential conservative think tanks in the United States.13
According to a Washington Post exposé, Scaife became disillusioned with electoral politics during the presidency of Richard Nixon, to whom he had donated some $1 million, and the Watergate scandal. The Post reports, “His experience with Nixon, according to several associates, persuaded him to invest his hopes and his money in conservative institutions and ideas, not politicians. Though he has continued to give thousands to political campaigns and political action committees, his interest in electoral politics receded.”14
Although Scaife’s foundations claim to not accept proposals from individuals, they provided the seed money for Elliott Abrams’ 1997 book, Faith or Fear, which came out while Abrams was president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Both Abrams and Leslie Lenkowsky, then president of the Hudson Institute, approached Scaife about the project. Scaife specified that he would give the project a $175,000 grant if another “Jewish donor or group” also supported the book. The book, which dealt with American Jewry, prompted Scaife to comment to Abrams how surprised he was that this ethnic group identified more with liberals than with conservatives.15
Scaife gained notoriety in the 1990s for his at times outlandish efforts to oust President Bill Clinton. Among his efforts, he funded conservative magazine The American Spectator’s “Arkansas Project,” a controversial effort to investigate President Bill Clinton’s dealings while governor of Arkansas. The stories published by Spectator reporter David Brock ranged from Clinton’s infidelity to more hyperbolic, conspiracy-minded items. Scaife also used his newspaper, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, to push the theory that the suicide of former Clinton aide Vince Foster was really a murder, and that the Clintons were covering it up.
The largest recipient of Scaife largesse over the decades has been the Heritage Foundation. Since 1985, the Heritage Foundation has received $19.6 million from the Sarah Scaife Foundation and smaller amounts from the Carthage Foundation. The Allegheny Foundation concentrates most of its giving on conventional organizations in western Pennsylvania.
The Sarah Scaife Foundation, formerly the Sarah Mellon Scaife Foundation, has the largest endowment of the three foundations, with assets totaling $305 million according to tax records. In 2005, the foundation awarded $15 million to a variety of organizations, including the Heritage Foundation ($100,000), the American Enterprise Institute ($300,000), Center for Security Policy ($350,000). It also made large donations to non-ideological organizations, such as the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum ($262,000). Since 1985, the largest recipient of grants, besides Heritage, have been the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis ($9.7 million), the Center for Strategic and International Studies ($8.6 million) and the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace ($8.5 million).16
According to the Carthage Foundation’s 2007 annual report, it gave out $2.09 million in grants in 2006, including to the Federation for American Immigration Reform ($300,000), the Counter Terrorism & Security Education and Research Foundation’s Investigative Project ($125,000), and the Institute for Religion and Democracy ($200,000).17
The Allegheny Foundation awarded $4 million in grants in the 2006, the largest of which went to a Boys & Girls Club in Pittsburgh. The foundation received $3 million from Scaife and has $54 million in assets.18
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Scaife Foundations Résumé
- Richard M. Scaife, Chairman
- Michael W. Gleba, Executive Vice President (Scaife), Treasurer (Carthage)
- R. Daniel McMichael, Consultant
- Matthew Groll, Executive Director (Allegheny)
- Sarah Scaife Foundation: $29 million
- Allegheny Foundation: $9 million
- Carthage Foundation: $7 million
- Sarah Scaife Foundation: $18 million
- Allegheny Foundation: $4 million
- Carthage Foundation: $1.8 million
- Heritage Foundation 19,635,000
- Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis 9,698,000
- Center for Strategic and International Studies 8,628,000
- Hoover Institution 8,545,500
- Free Congress Research and Education Foundation 5,708,000
- Intercollegiate Studies Institute 5,625,000
- Social Philosophy and Policy Foundation 5,350,000
- American Enterprise Institute 5,286,000
- National Association of Scholars 4,756,000
- David Horowitz Freedom Center 4,100,000
- Landmark Legal Foundation 3,875,000
- Judicial Watch 3,840,000
- Capital Research Center 3,775,000
- Foundation for Cultural Review 3,595,000
- Center for Security Policy 3,476,000
- Manhattan Institute 3,335,000
- Federalist Society 3,030,000
- Free Congress Research and Education Foundation 11,650,000
- Judicial Watch 4,475,000
- Maldon Institute, Inc. 3,664,000
- Washington Legal Foundation 3,060,000
- Heritage Foundation 2,759,000
- Landmark Legal Foundation 2,000,000
- American Spectator Foundation 1,969,000
- Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis 1,818,000
- Accuracy in Media 1,720,000
- Federation for American Immigration Reform 1,654,500
- Brandywine Conservancy 1,500,000
- Allegheny Institute for Public Policy 1,393,500
- Hoover Institution 1,223,400
- Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow 1,105,000
- Atlas Economic Research Foundation 1,075,000
- University of Virginia Law School Foundation 1,054,000
- Counterterrorism & Security Education and Research Foundation 1,025,000
- Center for Individual Rights 1,000,000
- American Jewish Committee 995,000
- Center for Security Policy 960,000
One Oxford Centre
301 Grant Street, Suite 3900
Pittsburgh, PA 15219-6401
Key Personnel (2008)
Grants Paid (2006)20
Top Non-University Grant Recipients, 1985-2005
Sarah Scaife Foundation21
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1. “The 400 Richest Americans: #355 Richard Scaife”September 17, 2008, Forbes.com, http://www.forbes.com/lists/2008/54/400list08_Richard-Scaife_T9LG.html.
2. Robert G. Kaiser and Ira Chinoy, “Scaife: Funding Father of the Right,” The Washington Post, May 2, 1999; Robert G. Kaiser, “Money, Family Name Shaped Scaife,” The Washington Post, May 3, 1999.
3. Robert G. Kaiser and Ira Chinoy, “Scaife: Funding Father of the Right,” The Washington Post, May 2, 1999.
4. Internal Revenue Service Form 990, Allegheny Foundation, 2007; Carthage Foundation, Internal Revenue Service Form 990, 2007;; Scaife Family Foundation ,Internal Revenue Service Form 990, 2006; Sarah Scaife Foundation, Internal Revenue Service Form 990, 2006.
5. Carthage Foundation, “2007 Annual Report.” http://www.scaife.com/cartha07.pdf
6. Sarah Scaife Foundation, “2007 Annual Report.” http://www.scaife.com/sarah07.pdf
7. Allegheny Foundation, “2007 Annual Report.” http://www.scaife.com/allegh07.pdf
8. Marc Caputo, “Foundation’s Move to West Palm Rings Alarm," Palm Beach Post, June 9, 2003
9. Marc Caputo, “Foundation’s Move to West Palm Rings Alarm," Palm Beach Post, June 9, 2003
10. Robert G. Kaiser, “Money, Family Name Shaped Scaife,” The Washington Post, May 3, 1999 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/clinton/stories/scaifemain050399.htm
11. Robert G. Kaiser, “Money, Family Name Shaped Scaife,” The Washington Post, May 3, 1999 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/clinton/stories/scaifemain050399.htm
12. Robert G. Kaiser and Ira Chinoy, “Scaife: Funding Father of the Right,” The Washington Post, May 2, 1999; Robert G. Kaiser, “Money, Family Name Shaped Scaife,” The Washington Post, May 3, 1999.
13. Ira Chinoy and Robert G. Kaiser, “Scaife: Funding Father of the Right,” Washington Post, Sun May 2, 1999
14. Robert G. Kaiser and Ira Chinoy, “Scaife: Funding Father of the Right,” The Washington Post, May 2, 1999; Robert G. Kaiser, “Money, Family Name Shaped Scaife,” The Washington Post, May 3, 1999.
15. Robert G. Kaiser and Ira Chinoy, “Scaife: Funding Father of the Right,” The Washington Post, May 2, 1999
16. Sarah Scaife Foundation web page, http://scaife.com/sarah.html; Internal Revenue Service Form 990, Sarah Scaife Foundation, 2006.
17. Carthage Foundation web page, http://scaife.com/carthage.html; Internal Revenue Service Form 990, Carthage Foundation, 2007
18. Allegheny Foundation web page, http://scaife.com/alleghen.html; Internal Revenue Service Form 990, Carthage Foundation, 2007
19. Scaife Foundations, “Annual Reports: Sarah Scaife Foundation,” http://www.scaife.com/sarah07.pdf; “Annual Reports: Carthage Foundation,” http://www.scaife.com/cartha07.pdf; “Annual Reports: Allegheny Foundation,” http://www.scaife.com/allegh07.pdf.
20. Scaife Foundations, “Annual Reports: Sarah Scaife Foundation,” http://www.scaife.com/sarah07.pdf; “Annual Reports: Carthage Foundation,” http://www.scaife.com/cartha07.pdf; “Annual Reports: Allegheny Foundation,” http://www.scaife.com/allegh07.pdf.
21. Media Transparency, “Recipients of Funder: Sarah Scaife Foundation,” http://www.mediatransparency.org/recipientsoffunder.php?funderID=3
22. Media Transparency, “Recipients of Funder: Carthage Foundation, ” http://www.mediatransparency.org/recipientsoffunder.php?funderID=4.