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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 29, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 05
Downtown pickets target Wells Fargo exec for funding extremist groups

Anti-Gay, anti-choice, anti-union groups got $54 million from Murdock Trust
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Downtown pickets target Wells Fargo exec for funding extremist groups

Anti-Gay, anti-choice, anti-union groups got $54 million from Murdock Trust

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Forty pickets gathered in front of Wells Fargo's downtown Seattle office building January 27, demanding that a top bank executive cut his ties with the Murdock Charitable Trust.

According to the Northwest Accountability Project, the group that organized the protest, Wells Fargo exec Jeffrey Grubb also sits on the Murdock Trust's board of directors and helps decide where the trust's money goes.

'The Murdock Trust gave $54 million to right-wing extremist groups over the past 10 years,' Northwest Accountability Project staffer Heather Weiner told SGN.

Among the groups funded by the Trust are several notoriously anti-LGBT organizations:

o The Discovery Institute received almost $2 million. While it's best known for promoting the idea of 'intelligent design,' the group's founder, George Gilder, denounced same-sex marriage as 'a parody' and 'an absurd concept.'

o The Heritage Foundation, run by anti-Gay former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, got $1.5 million.

o Focus on the Family received $1.25 million.

o The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF; formerly the Alliance Defense Fund) received $600,000. ADF was founded by Focus on the Family CEO James Dobson with Campus Crusade for Christ founder Bill Bright, Crown Financial Ministries head Larry Burkett, D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries, Marlin Maddoux of International Christian Media, and American Family Association founder Donald Wildmon.

o The Portland Fellowship, a 'conversion therapy' provider, got $212,000.

'Wells Fargo wants to be known as open and inclusive,' Weiner said. 'Remember the lesbian ad they ran last year? It's hypocritical for them to let one of their top executives fund right-wing groups.'

The Murdock Trust has also funded anti-choice 'crisis pregnancy centers' to the tune of $1,547,200. These establishments pose as medical providers but are established to talk women out of having abortions.

The Trust also gave $765,000 to the anti-union Freedom Foundation, a group that seeks to eliminate paid sick leave, cut the minimum wage, and reduce public school funding.

'The Freedom Foundation has a bad reputation,' said retiree Bonny Oborn, a member of the activist group Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action (PSARA). 'They back 'right to work' legislation. That's the biggest issue for workers today.'

'It comes down to our values!' fellow PSARA member Sally Davis interjected. 'If they don't support progressive values, we want them out of our city.'

The Northwest Accountability Project has already held similar demonstrations at the Murdock Trust's headquarters in Vancouver, Wash., and plans an action in Portland, where Wells Fargo exec Grubb actually works, on January 28.

'This is part of a larger movement,' Weiner told SGN, 'that started in Wisconsin and Michigan. These right-wing funders come in, and the first thing they do is weaken unions. They fund anti-union work. Then they have the way clear for their whole right-wing agenda.'

The Northwest Accountability Project has also launched an online petition on its website - nwaccountabilityproject.com/petition/ - asking the Murdock Trust to cease funding anti-Gay extremist groups.

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