Saturday, August 23, 2008

Post portrays Lancaster Alliance as front; challenges its tax exempt status

In its Aug. 22 cover story entitled "Money Grab: Does Big Business Hide Behind 'Non-Profits'?", the Lancaster Post challenges whether the Lancaster Alliance is a tool of business interests who directly benefit from its efforts, and therefore whether it qualifies for 501(c)(3) status which permits donations to be treated as charitable contributions.

The Post asks "Can a non-profit organization legally work to further the business interests of its directors?" As an example, it points out that in 1999 the Alliance "sponsored and paid for a study which advocated the establishment of a Lancaster County hotel-motel tax (over $3 million a year) and the building of a public convention center beside a 'private' hotel at Penn Square." The Post reveals that three members that were to end up owning the hotel - Fulton Bank, High Group, and Lancaster Newspapers, Inc. - made large contributions to pay for the study. (Fulton subsquently dropped out of the project.)

The Post goes on to charge that "This non-profit not only 'fronts' for the various corporate interests, but is also used to create propagandistic quotes that are intended to influence the public." It then provides examples.

The article suggests that business interests are again using the Alliance to further the scheme to obtain "Federal and State Funding for the estimated $12-14 million to install the two-mile [street car] loop...."

Listed as major contributors to the Lancaster Alliance are prime beneficiaries of their advocacy: Armstrong, Barley Snyder, Franklin & Marshall, Fulton Financial, High Industries, Lancaster Newspapers, Steinman Foundations and Wachovia Bank.

The implications of the article is that the Lancaster Alliance is the tool of big business and other special interests and it hypocritically portrays itself as disinterestedly serving the public.

The entire article can be read at . Click on Page Two to make the print legible.

(Full disclosure: An article by a relative of NewsLanc's publisher also appears in the edition.)