Math is hard, Part 2: Civitas misreports Environmental Defense Fund’s finances

The abacus over at Civitas must be broken. In a blog post today, Francis De Luca, in trying to impugn NC DEQ Secretary nominee Michael Regan, miscalculated / misreported / fundraising totals at the Environment Defense Fund.

This much is true: Regan worked for EDF for eight years.

This, however, is not true: From 2008-2016, De Luca wrote, the nonprofit took in “over $4.6 million from Tar Heels — yet only used about $1.3 million for charitable purposes.” He sources his information as documents on the NC Secretary of State’s website, but as our teachers told us in third grade, De Luca didn’t show his work.

We called the EDF local office — its headquarters are in New York — and the group’s national compliance officer shed some light on how De Luca erred in the math.

First, it appears that De Luca used national numbers. Follow along at home: The Campaign Final Accountings page lists all of the telemarketing firms EDF’s national office hired. The net amount does appear to be sizeable, except that figure refers to the national office. If you click on the folder next to the name of the fundraising firm, that will take you to another page with a pdf called “Final Accounting.”

Open that document, which we did for every item, and you’ll see the gross telemarketing revenue for the national office and the North Carolina office.

We added all the gross revenue for the North Carolina office from 2009-2016 (2008 documents are not available on the site.) That equals just over $107,000. When you calculate the net proceeds — after the telemarketers were paid and other fundraising expenses covered — that comes to $14,000 and change. A long way away from $4.6 million.

EDF receives contributions from many sources, not just telemarketing. And a review of the group’s 990 tax forms, which it files with the Internal Revenue Service and are also on the SOS site, shows that nationally the group spends about 10 to 15 percent of its total revenue on fundraising. That is not out of line with best practices for nonprofit groups.

In addition to the math error, De Luca implied that Regan was somehow involved in a “fleecing” of North Carolina citizens. “Has Roy Cooper nominated a telephone scammer?” De Luca asks.

The answer: No, not only because there was no scam but because, “he was not in telemarketing,” said Georgette Foster, EDF spokesperson. In fact, from 2008 to 2016, Regan worked as the Southeast Regional Director of EDF, as well as directing the group’s energy efficiency and climate & energy policy.

 

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