The latest tax return of the Discovery Institute is now available — you can see it here: Discovery Institute Form 990 for 2012 (it’s a 44-page pdf file). We must remind you that we’re not skilled at reading these documents. All we can do is give you what we see as the highlights.
So you can make comparisons, we discussed their 2005 return in Discovery Institute: Who and What Are They?, and then Discovery Institute: Their 2006 Tax Return, and then Discovery Institute: Their 2007 Tax Return, and then Discovery Institute Tax Returns: 2008 & 2009, and then their 2010 tax return, and most recently: their 2011 Tax Return.
The first item of interest is the Discoveroids’ gross revenue. Here’s what the latest return shows, with historical information from their older returns described in our earlier posts:
Revenue is down almost $469K from last year. That’s a drop of 8.6%. However, after adding some “other” items, the grand total for 2012 was $5.1 million. The comparable figure for the year before was $5.656 million, so the grand total is down over half a million bucks. Is that the signal of a serious problem, or is it just a one-year anomaly? It’s impossible to know. They’ve had year-to-year variations in the past.
We’ve asked this question before, but it always seems relevant: After burning through all those millions, what do they have to show for it? As we’ve done in the past, we leave that as an exercise for you, dear reader.
The next item that interests us is the breakdown of their spending according to activity. That’s disclosed on page 2 of the return. Line 4b says that they spent $461,873 on their transportation work, which is significantly less than the $832K spent on transportation for the year before. The decline may be of no importance; the work may ebb and flow. Anyway, transportation studies seem to be the sort of thing a respectable think tank would do.
However, line 4a says they spent $3,218,867 (it was $2.995 million the year before) on what they call “Production of public service reports, legislative testimony, articles, public conferences and debates, plus media coverage and the Institute’s own publications in the field of science and culture.” That’s more than three million bucks on what we interpret as blogging, lobbying, holding revivals at various churches, public relations, and publishing their own “peer-reviewed” material.
In addition to that, line 4c discloses $336,727 more that was spent for what looks to us like additional creationist activities, which they describe as “Production of public service reports, legislative testimony, articles, public conferences and debates, plus media coverage and the Institute’s own publications in the field of technology.” That’s almost identical to the description of the earlier item, except for the ending word of “technology” instead of “science and culture.” Further, the line below that shows yet another $183,681 spent for another similar item, except that one ends with “international relations, religion, and other topics.” We assume that refers to their creationist activities in the UK and in Europe.
Adding the three creationist categories together, we get a figure of $3,739,275 that was spent on creationism– oops, intelligent design. That’s 73% of all their revenue. There’s no question that promoting creationism is the Discoveroids’ principal function. Are you surprised?
Page 7 lists their officers, directors, etc., and it gives their compensation. Looking at the Directors first, they list Stephen Meyer. He’s been described as their vice-president, but on the 2011 return he was also a Director. Last year he was paid $150K plus $16K “other.” It was the same the year before that. But this year he was paid $180K, plus $15,783 for “other.” Nice little raise!
Bruce Chapman, Chairman, was paid $135K plus $4,855 “other” compensation. Last year it was $154K plus $8K “other.” Chappy’s had a cut in pay. Last year he was both President and Chairman. This year he’s no longer the Discoveroids’ President. That title now belongs to John West, who was paid $120K, the same as last year. And it’s no surprise that Howard Ahmanson continues to be listed as one of their directors, without compensation. It’s long been known that he’s a patron of the Discovery Institute.
On page 8 they list payments to “independent contractors.” George Gilder was paid $120K for “research,” and David Berlinsky got $100K, also for “research.”
Skipping over pages of stuff we don’t understand, we come to Schedule I which is on page 29 of the pdf file. That lists grants they’ve made. They show that they gave $291,300 to “Biologic.” We assume that’s their own creation science lab — Biologic Institute.
On the next page they disclose that they paid out $239,976 for four CSC “fellowships.” Those are the Discoveroid “fellows” we hear so much about. They also paid $120K for one “technology fellowship” and they paid $10K for one “general fellowship.” No names are given for the recipients.
That’s all we found that’s worth mentioning, but there may be more information buried in the 44 pages of that form. If you find anything else, please let us know.
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