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`Democracy Now!' and FAIR/`CounterSpin''s Park Foundation Connection--Conclusion

Tax-exempt inherited wealth of Park Family's Park Foundation and Triad Foundation used to fund both right-wing conservative media groups like National Review magazine and alternative media liberal-left groups like Democracy Now!, FAIR/CounterSpin, Mother Jones, NPR, and PBS's NewsHour.
`Democracy Now!' and FAIR/`CounterSpin'''s Park Foundation Connection--Conclusion

At the time of his death on October 25, 1993, Roy H. Park was still the Park Communications' Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer, and the owner of the 90 percent of the Park Communications' stock that the Park family and its Park Foundation then inherited. And on December 10, 1993, Roy Park's widow, former Park Communications board member/board secretary and Park Foundation president emeritus Dorothy D. Park, was authorized to act as the Personal Representative of Roy Park's estate.

As Personal Representative of her husband's estate, Dorothy Park then informed Park Communications board member and former U.S. Senator Harry Byrd Jr. and her other colleagues on the Park Communications board of directors (at a Special Meeting on March 25, 1994 of the company's board of directors) that the Park family had decided to sell all the Park Communications stock that the family and its Park Foundation had inherited. And, in response, the Park Communications board of directors voted to hire the Goldman Sachs investment banking firm on Wall Street to help it arrange the sale of the entire Park Communications media empire.

A private investment concern, Park Acquisitions, Inc., (that was headed by Alabama real estate developer Gary Knapp and Lexington, Kentucky stockbroker Donald Tomlin) then agreed on October 25, 1994 to purchase the Park Communications media empire for $711.4 million. But $573.4 million of the $711.4 million that the Park family, the Park Foundation, and the other Park Communications received from the sale of Park Communications apparently came from a "loan" of public pension fund money of The Retirement Systems of Alabama [RSA] to Knapp and Tomlin's Park Acquisitions, Inc..

And the remaining $138 million that the Park family, the Park Foundation and the other Park Communications stockholders received from their own company's sale was just "derived from cash on the Company's books at the closing of the acquisition," according to a 1995 S.E.C. financial filing. As the American Journalism Review noted in its May 1999 issue:

"... David Bronner, head of the Alabama pension fund... provided the money when two businessmen, Donald Tomlin and Gary Knapp, first acquired Park Communications from the estate of media mogul Roy Park; in effect, it had loaned money... . Bronner, 54, is known for such unorthodox ventures as the $120 million, seven-course Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail across Alabama and a half dozen downtown Montgomery high-rises... Bronner says he earns... $240,000 a year... "

After Bronner's Retirement Systems of Alabama [RSA] pension fund "loaned" $573,4 million in public money for the purchase of Park Communications (that eventually ended up in the hands of the Park family and its Park Foundation), the RSA pension fund then "spent $2.5 billion to take control of Raycom Media, a television chain that has grown under its ownership from six small stations to 34 stations in 18 states... ,and... invested $1.8 billion in Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., which now owns hundreds of small daily and weekly newspapers around the country," according to a December 2002 article by Rob Gurwith, "David Bronner: High-Roller," that was posted on the www.governing.com website. The same article also noted that Bronner's RSA/Raycom Media/Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. "pension fund" also "bought 55 Water Street, one of the largest office buildings in Manhattan" and "owns real estate throughout Alabama, including a project to build a 35-story hotel in Mobile." Coincidentally, "the newspapers and television stations" that Bronner's pension fund in Alabama "controls are required to give the state free publicity."

At the time of its 1994 sale to the recipients of the $573.4 million Retirement Systems of Alabama "loan", the following television and radio broadcasting stations were then controlled by Park Communications:

WBMG-TV (CBS) Birmingham, Alabama
WTVQ-TV (ABC) Lexington, Kentucky
KALB-TV (NBC) Alexandria, Louisiana
WUTR-TV (ABC) Utica, New York
WNCT-TV (CBS) Greenville, North Carolina
WDEF-TV (CBS) Chattanooga, Tennessee
WJHL-TV (CBS) Johnson City, Tennessee
WTVR-TV (CBS) Richmond, Virginia
WSLS-TV (NBC) Roanoke, Virginia

WNLS-AM/WTNT-FM Tallahassee, Florida
KWLO-AM/KFMW-FM Waterloo, Iowa
KJJO-AM/FM Minneapolis, Minnesota
WPAT-AM/FM serving the Greater New York City Area
WHEN-AM/FM Syracuse, New York
WNCT-AM/FM Greenville, North Carolina
KWJJ-AM/FM Portland, Oregon
WNAX-AM/FM Yankton, South Dakota
WDEF-AM/FM Chattanooga, Tennessee
WTVR-AM/FM Richmond, Virginia
KEZX-AM/FM Seattle, Washington

Between Roy Park's death and the finalization of its sale of Park Communications in 1995, the Park Foundation president emeritus, Dorothy D. Park, was both the Park Communications chairman of the board and the corporate board's secretary. And besides former U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd Jr., the Park Communications board of directors included a Goldman Sachs executive named J. Markham Green, a Wachovia Bank of North Carolina executive named John McNair III, a Park Foundation director named Wright Thomas and Roy H. Park and Dorothy Park's son: Park Outdoor Advertising of New York Chairman of the Board, President and CEO Roy H. Park Jr..

In addition, Park Foundation and Park Communications directors Dorothy Park and Wright Thomas also sat next to Park Communications and Park Outdoor Advertising of New York director Roy H. Park Jr. on the board of directors of RHP Incorporated, Inc. -which was wholly owned by the Estate of Roy H. Park, Dorothy Park and a marital trust for the benefit of Dorothy Park. And, coincidentally, according to its February 24, 1995 S.E.C. financial filing, Park Communications "purchased 10 buildings and one tower from RHF Incorporated and its subsidiaries at the... market value of $4,415,000" in 1994; and during 1994, Park Communications "placed $84,298 of promotional advertising with Park Outdoor Advertising of New York Inc., which is controlled by Roy H. Park Jr. a director of the company."

After the Park family and its Park Foundation added most of the $711.4 million from the sale of its Park Communications media empire to its personal and foundation bank accounts in the mid-1990s, the son and daughter of Roy H. Park apparently decided to divide the Park Foundation into two different foundations: the Triad Foundation (run by Roy H. Park Jr.) and the Park Foundation (run by Adelaide Park Gomer ).

As president and chairman of his tax-exempt, "non-profit" Triad Foundation, Roy Park Jr. was paid an annual salary of $220,706 in 2010 by the Triad Foundation for spending only 20 hours a week "working" for his own foundation, according to the Triad Foundation's Form 990 financial filing for the year beginning August 1, 2010 and ending July 31, 2011. And the grandson of Roy H. Park—Roy H. Park III—was paid an annual salary of $173,492 in 2010 by the Triad Foundation for "working" only 13 hours a week as an executive vice-president and secretary of his family's Triad Foundation.

Of the over $226 million in assets that Roy Park Jr.'s Triad Foundation controlled in 2010, over $110 million consisted of stocks and bonds in both foreign and U.S. corporations and over $68 million in hedge fund and limited partnership investments Between 2008 and 2011 the Triad Foundation owned large chunks of stock, for example, in the following companies: Royal Dutch Shell; BASF; Daimler Chrysler; Bank of America; Boeing; AOL, Inc.; Apache Corp.; Bank NY Mellon; Caterpillar; ConocoPhillips; Dreamworks; General Electric; Honeywell; Marathon Oil; McDonald's; Pfizer; Merck; Time-Warner; Viacom; Wells Fargo; Occidental Petroleum; Microsoft; Newmont Mining; Halliburton; JP Morgan Chase; Goldman Sachs; and the New York Times Company. And from its stocks and bonds portfolio, the Triad Foundation received around $2 million in dividends and interests between August 2010 and August 2011. After over $39 million of Park Foundation president emeritus Dorothy Park's personal wealth was "contributed" to the Triad Foundation during this period, the revenues of the "non-profit" Roy Park Jr.'s foundation between August 2010 and August 2011 ended up exceeding the foundation's expenses by over $40 million; and the foundation's assets increased from over $174 million to over $226 million between 2010 and 2011.

The market value of assets controlled by Adelaide Park Gomer's Park Foundation in 2011, however, still apparently exceeded the market value of assets controlled by her brother's Triad Foundation. According to the Form 990 financial filing for 2010 of the Park Foundation, the foundation that funds Democracy Now! Productions, F.A.I.R./CounterSpin, and Mother Jones magazine, as well as NPR and the PBS NewsHour, controlled over $315 million in assets in 2010—including over $233 million worth of corporate stocks and bonds—and received over $3.3 million in dividends and interests from its stocks and bonds portfolio in 2010.

The January 2007 will of Park Foundation president emeritus Dorothy Park originally indicated that the $200 million personal fortune that she was expected to leave behind was "to be split evenly between the Park Foundation and Park Jr.'s Triad Foundation," according to an article that appeared in the November 11, 2010 issue of Cornell University's student newspaper, The Ithacan. But as The Ithacan observed:

"On Aug. 7 [2010], Dorothy Park signed a power of attorney agreement naming Park Jr. as her agent, including a New York Statutory Major Gifts Rider that would grant him the right to contribute major gifts on her behalf... .According to court documents, Dorothy Park's will was altered Aug. 15 while Park Jr. was designated as her agent...The change made Aug. 15 designated $120 million to go to the Triad Foundation and $80 million to the Park Foundation... ."

A big chunk of the "charitable" grants that Roy Park Jr's Triad Foundation distributes goes to help fund "needy", tax-exempt, "non-profit" institutions like the University of North Carolina's School of Journalism and Cornell University. Between 2008 and 2011, for example, nine grants, totaling nearly $4 million, were given to the University of North Carolina's School of Journalism by the Triad Foundation; while 22 "charitable" grants, totaling over $2 million, were given to Cornell University in 2010 alone, by the Triad Foundation. And besides giving "charitable" grants to the University of North Carolina and Cornell University, the Triad Foundation—whose president and chairman was the Park Outdoor Advertising of New York's chairman and CEO during the 1990s—gave, coincidentally, two "charitable" grants, totaling $30,000, to the Foundation for Outdoor Advertising Research and Education between 2008 and 2010.

Like his sister's Park Foundation, Roy Park Jr.'s Triad Foundation also uses some of its tax-exempt foundation money to help fund various politically partisan media groups and think-tanks. But, unlike the Park Foundation, the Triad Foundation helps fund politically partisan right-wing conservative media groups and think-tanks like National Review Institute/National Review magazine, the David Horowitz Freedom Center, the Heritage Foundation, and the American Enterprise Institute. Between 2008 and August 2011, for example, the Triad Foundation gave "charitable" grants to the following right-wing conservative or neo-conservative organizations:

1. Three "charitable" grants, totaling $30,000, to National Review Institute/National Review magazine—whose editor and president, Kate O'Bierne, was paid an annual salary of $240,000 in 2010 by the "non-profit" National Review Institute;

2. Two "charitable" grants, totaling $10,00, to the David Horowitz Freedom Center for "support for... Defense of Israel campaign";
3. Three "charitable" grants, totaling $25,000, to the Heritage Foundation;

4. Two "charitable" grants, totaling $60,000, to the American Enterprise Institute;

5. Two "charitable" grants, totaling $20,000, to the Media Research Center;

6. A $2,500 "charitable" grant to Capital Research Center;

7. A $7,500 "charitable" grant to the Independent Women's Forum;

8. Three "charitable" grants, totaling $10,000, to the Cato Institute;

9. A $10,000 "charitable" grant to the Manhattan Institute;

10. A $5,000 "charitable" grant to the American Conservative Foundation;

11. Four "charitable" grants, totaling $27,000, to the Young America Foundation [YAF]—including a $12,000 "charitable" grant "to bring Mike Huckabee to speak at Cornell in Spring 2008"; and

12. A $500 "charitable" grant to the George W. Bush Foundation.

So although the brother of the big Democratic Party campaign contributor (whose Park Foundation helps fund Democracy Now!, F.A.I.R./CounterSpin and Mother Jones magazine) doesn't contribute as much money to the Republican Party as his sister, Adelaide Park Gomer, contributes to the Democratic Party, some of the surplus wealth that the Park family obtained from the sale of Roy Park Sr.'s media empire in the 1990s is also being used to fund right-wing conservative groups in the 21st-century. (end of article).

The Ithacan 23.Dec.2012 08:34


The Ithacan is a Ithaca College publication not Cornell.