Yesterday’s meeting of North Carolina’s Legislative Study Commission on Poverty Reduction and Economic Recovery featured a presentation by Golden LEAF President Dan Gerlach. Gerlach provided an overview of some of his organization’s initiatives to the commission members in attendance.
Curiously, while discussing some specific infrastructure projects Golden LEAF recently funded, Gerlach commented that his organization was working with the N.C. Rural Center to make sure they weren’t duplicating any money going toward specific projects. The comment was quite indicative of the fact that Golden LEAF serves no true unique purpose when it comes to their grant making. Otherwise, why would there need to be any coordination with the Rural Center to avoid funding the same specific projects?
I wrote extensively about this topic, and an analysis of Golden LEAF’s grant making reveals that several of Golden LEAF’s specific grants were also funded by other entities. Moreover, Golden LEAF’s stated “impact areas” for grant making are all thoroughly covered by numerous other funding entities. As I wrote in my report:
Indeed, an examination of Golden LEAF’s grant making priorities and history suggests that the organization is not needed to effectively disburse its $732 million in assets (as of June 30, 2008) along with the $70 million in annual revenue it receives as part of the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) resulting from a lawsuit filed against the major tobacco manufacturers.
In short, the tobacco settlement money could still be spent on the exact same programs as are currently funded by Golden LEAF, even if Golden LEAF didn’t exist.
As a specific example, Golden LEAF provides grants to assist local communities with water infrastructure improvements. North Carolina’s Program Evaluation Division, however, presented a 2008 report that identifies a total of 12 different federal, state and non-profit entities (including Golden LEAF) responsible for funding North Carolina water infrastructure. No wonder Gerlach has to check with other organizations first to figure out if someone else is already funding a project Golden LEAF is considering awarding a grant to.
And for more about Golden LEAF as a politicized slush fund, read this article.