As we always do, we warn you that your Curmudgeon has neither the skill nor enthusiasm needed for reading tax returns. All we can do is give you what we see as the highlights. Therefore, don’t rely on our interpretation — you should reach your own opinions. With that disclaimer, we bring you the thrilling news that the latest tax return of the Discovery Institute is now available — you can see it here: Discovery Institute Form 990 for 2015 (it’s a 49-page pdf file).
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 then their 2011 Tax Return, and then their 2012 Tax Return, and then their 2013 Tax Return, and most recently their 2014 Tax Return.
The first item of interest on the 2015 tax return is the Discoveroids’ gross revenue — from “contributions and grants,” ignoring revenue from relatively trivial items like investment income. Here’s what the latest return shows, with historical information from their older returns described in our earlier posts:
Wow — their 2015 revenue is a million more than the year before. In fact, it’s their biggest year ever. This is a surprise. Our post about their 2014 return was full of speculation that their revenue sources were drying up. Somehow, they’ve persuaded their generous patrons to contribute even more. But we have to ask the question we’ve asked before: After burning through all that money – roughly $50 million in the years we’ve displayed above — what do the Discoveroids have to show for it? As 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 in question 4 on page 2 of the return. For their three biggest programs, here’s what they spent: Line 4a shows $3,039,099 spent for their intelligent design work. Line 4b shows $306,634 spent for their “Technology and Democracy” project — whatever that is. Line 4c shows $156,947 spent for their “Center on Wealth, Poverty, and Morality — whatever that is. Promoting creationism is by far their biggest activity, and depending on what that other stuff is, it may be their only activity.
Line 4d discloses an expenditure of $289,860 for “Other program services.” Those are described in Schedule O. We jumped to that schedule, where we see this, with our bold font and punctuation:
OTHER PROGRAMS INCLUDE THE CHAPMAN CENTER FOR CITIZEN LEADERSHIP IS A TRAINING 4D PROGRAM FOR YOUNG PROFESSIONALS INTERESTED IN A CAREER IN PUBLIC AND/OR COMMUNITY SERVICE THE CENTER ENABLES YOUNG LEADERS TO CONSIDER THE FOUNDATIONAL IDEAS OF LEADERSHIP IN A FREE SOCIETY BY CONNECTING THEM WITH MENTORS AND FELLOW YOUNG LEADERS THROUGH SEMINARS, LECTURES, AND FELLOWSHIP PROGRAMS. THE CASCADIA CENTER PROGRAM PROMOTES REGIONAL COOPERATION AS THE KEY TO ENSURING MOBILITY, ECONOMIC GROWTH AND A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST. THE BIOETHICS PROGRAM EXAMINES A CONSTELLATION OF ISSUES SUCH AS ASSISTED SUICIDE AND EUTHANASIA, EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH, HUMAN GENETIC MANIPULATION, HUMAN CLONING, AND ANIMAL RIGHTS ISSUES. THE RELIGION, LIBERTY, AND PUBLIC LIFE PROGRAM EXAMINES THE PROPER ROLE 0F RELIGION IN FREE SOCIETY. THE AMERICAN CENTER FOR TRANSFORMING EDUCATION WORKS WITH STATE LEGISLATORS, POLICY MAKERS, AND PARENTS TO PROMOTE SYSTEMIC CHANGE TO OUR NATION’S EDUCATION SYSTEM, WITH AN EMPHASIS ON PARENTAL CHOICE, IMPROVED TEACHER QUALITY, AND BETTER GOVERNANCE STRUCTURES.
If you read through that, there seems to be a lot of creationist activity in that stuff too — but it’s difficult to know.
Page 7 lists their officers, directors, etc., and it discloses their compensation. Looking at the Directors first, they list Bruce Chapman, Chairman. He’s the only Director who was paid, and it was $82,306 (last year it was $122,906). 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. There are a dozen other directors listed. They receive no compensation, so we assume they’re also patrons — but we really don’t know.
The officers are on the next page. President Steven Buri was paid $144,200, the same as last year. Vice President John West was paid $120,000 ($2K less than last year). Surprisingly, Stephen Meyer is listed as Secretary, with a salary of $200,000, the same as last year when he was a Director. We have no idea what the change of title means, but the money is the same.
There’s an arkload of other information buried in that form, but we can’t look at it any more. If you find something of interest, please let us know.
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