- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 19, 2003

After Thanksgiving passes, the march to Christmas begins — with the Salvation Army ringing bells outside shops and television reruns of Scrooge constantly reminding all of us that the season is about giving as much as receiving. In Washington, autumn ‘tis the season for the Office of Personnel Management’s so-called Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). Federal employees should take a second look before contributing this year.

The CFC is the only approved program that can solicit and collect charitable contributions from federal bureaucrats in government workplaces. Millions are implored to donate. Last year, the average donation was $175. It is not a soft sell. Federal agencies push employees to take part. As one executive-department staffer explained to us, “We’re pressured hard by supervisors to contribute. Plaques or awards are given to departments with the highest giving rates, so employees are pressed to keep the rate of giving in the office high.”

Since 1961, the CFC has brought in big money. In 2002, the total reeled in was $237 million. The record was set in 2001 with a net of $241.4 million.

Significant federal resources are used to promote the campaign. Posters impelling participation are hung in federal office buildings, and many man-hours are dedicated to marketing the program. Because of the huge yearly windfall, many approved recipient groups run radio commercials to remind supporters of the organizations’ identification numbers to fill out on the CFC forms.

Annual donors might be surprised where the hundreds of millions go. A look at the CFC Web site lists a few conservative groups, such as the free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute. However, the vast majority of the supposed charitable organizations underwrite leftist political causes. For example, one of the groups that gets money channeled to it by the CFC is the National Organization for Women, one of the largest promoters of abortion in the country. Others include Interns for Peace, the Migrant Legal Action Program, the United States Soccer Federation, a handful of AIDS groups, the Tailhook Education Foundation and the Center for Auto Safety, which is associated with such dubious regulations as traffic cameras, increasing corporate fuel-economy standards and combating the mythical problem of sudden acceleration.

We’re not suggesting that anyone forgo charitable contributions, or that Washington shouldn’t play a role in encouraging Americans to help the less fortunate. We encourage civic-mindedness.

This is merely an alert to readers that the federal government is involved in raising money for groups whose raison d’etre is political activism. Your contributions might not be going where you think, or where you want. Before participating in the Combined Federal Campaign, we would suggest taking a good look at the list of groups it supports.

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