They are different, very different. AIPAC and others like it have concerns about American foreign policy and they try to persuade the Congress of the justice of their views. These organizations are not tax-exempt.
But the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation is. The tale of its sleazy operations is told in a dazzling story by Eric Lipton and Erich Lichtblau in yesterday's New York Times.
Votes of members of the Black Caucus are basically up for grabs--or, to be frank, up for sale to corporations that contribute huge sums to the foundation, which serves the pecuniary interests of the caucus. What's particularly intriguing is that these pecuniary interests have exactly zero to do with minority concerns.
From 2004 to 2008, the Congressional Black Caucus’s political and charitable wings took in at least $55 million in corporate and union contributions, according to an analysis by The New York Times, an impressive amount even by the standards of a Washington awash in cash. Only $1 million of that went to the caucus’s political action committee; the rest poured into the largely unregulated nonprofit network. (Data for 2009 is not available.)
The caucus says its nonprofit groups are intended to help disadvantaged African-Americans by providing scholarships and internships to students, researching policy and holding seminars on topics like healthy living.
But the bulk of the money has been spent on elaborate conventions that have become a high point of the Washington social season, as well as the headquarters building, golf outings by members of Congress and an annual visit to a Mississippi casino resort.
In 2008, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation spent more on the caterer for its signature legislative dinner and conference — nearly $700,000 for an event one organizer called “Hollywood on the Potomac” — than it gave out in scholarships, federal tax records show.
These four paragraphs above are only the beginning of the sordid tale. Read the rest.