- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 18, 2000

At least a dozen groups participating in the protests against global capitalism over the last few days receive federal grant money, according to a study by a taxpayers watchdog group.
The Alexandria, Va.-based, nonpartisan National Taxpayers Union Foundation calculated that at least $15 million in federal grants goes to the groups, which include such divergent causes as the Rural Coalition and Friends of the Earth.
"Many Americans may be indifferent to this weekend's protest against economic globalization, but they now have more than 15 million reasons to care and each one represents some taxpayer's hard-earned dollar," said Thomas E. McClusky, senior policy analyst for the taxpayers union and the study's author.
But some of the groups named in the study say they had nothing to do with the protests against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
"This is a complete lie," said Marty Algaze, manager of communications for Gay Men's Health Crisis, a New York-based group that accounted for $5 million of the taxpayer union's federal grant calculation. "We have nothing to do with this demonstration [and] we don't get anywhere near $5 million from the federal government for our programs."
A spokeswoman for the Environmental Alliance for Senior Involvement, also listed as part of the demonstrations in the study, said her group was not involved in the protests, adding that the $418,578 grant figure the taxpayers union used was from a previous fiscal year.
Four of the dozen organizations Mr. McClusky cited Earth Action Coalition, the AFL-CIO, the Rural Coalition and Friends of the Earth were listed as sponsors or endorsers of the protests on the "official" protest Web site, www.a16.org.
Mr. McClusky said he contacted the rest of the organizations and was told they were all going to be part of the demonstrations. The study is available at the group's Web site at www.ntu.org.
Some of the groups Mr. McClusky named in the study defended their involvement in the protests and their federal grants, saying the two are entirely unrelated.
"We were not a sponsor of this thing. It's not like we put any money in it or invested any staff time," said Lorette Picciano, executive director of the Rural Coalition, which Mr. McClusky said received almost $375,000 in federal grants.
Ms. Picciano said two staff members did take part in the demonstrations this weekend, but said their involvement is not related to the organization's federal grants. That money, she said, is used on programs to save small farms, for example.
Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth, said taxpayers also should question U.S. grants to the IMF and World Bank.
Despite denials from some of the groups, Mr. McClusky said his figures could be just a scratch on the surface, since it is tough to pin down some of the groups that sent protesters and to identify how much federal contract funds they receive, if any.
The group also estimates yesterday's protests, which shut down federal offices bounded by 12th and 23rd streets and Constitution Avenue and K Street, cost the federal government $20 million in holiday pay. Workers in that region were given the day off with pay. Other federal workers in the city were allowed to use a vacation day.
The District is seeking $5 million from the federal government to cover costs associated with the protesters. Congress has already approved some money for Seattle, to cover the costs of policing and cleaning up after the demonstrations there in December. More than 580 persons were arrested and more than $10 million in damage was reported when rioting erupted during protests against the World Trade Organization.

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