Activists on the left attempt to cash in on Harvey relief

Some leftist activists are attempting to fund their pet projects by taking advantage of the generosity of the American people and our desire to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Instead of soliciting badly needed donations for delivery and assistance to people in need, these activists are seeking donations to groups and political action committees dedicated to “social justice” causes unrelated to the immediate needs those trying to recover from Harvey’s devastation.

As they struggle against the devastation left by Harvey, the courageous people of Texas and local, state and federal emergency responders have brought out the best in our country. People from around our nation are donating millions of dollars for hurricane relief efforts to help many thousands of storm victims – including many who are now homeless, jobless and without most of their possessions.

Yet some on the left want to raise money for their own favorite causes by linking them to hurricane relief efforts. The most prominent is Women’s March organizer Linda Sarsour, who last week tweeted her followers to “Donate to the Harvey Hurricane Relief Fund” and included a link to a website called Texas Organizing Project.

The site says the mission of the group is to “promote social and economic equality for low to moderate income Texans through community and electoral organizing.”

The specific link Sarsour blasted out to her 230,000 Twitter followers went to a donation page that states: “Your donation is vital to ensuring that we have the resources we need to organize and fight for Texans devastated by Hurricane Harvey!”

It also goes on to say: “Together we will organize and advocate for our devastated communities, shining a spotlight on inequalities that emerge in the restoration of lives, livelihoods, and homes, amplifying the needs of hard-hit communities, and providing legal assistance for residents wrongfully denied government support.”

A statement on the Texas Organizing Project’s Facebook page stated originally that “All donations made here will only be used to organize in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Thank you!” and was later edited out (this can be viewed by selecting the “view edit history” tab on the post).

Nowhere does it state on the donation page that any money donated will go to immediate victims in need of food, shelter or supplies. This was largely ignored by mainstream media outlets, several of which have glamorized Sarsour and the Women’s March.

The reporting on this was left to conservative media. This allowed Sarsour to frame criticism of her efforts as a racist, partisan attack. In a follow-up tweet she said: “Texas Organizing Project is not my PAC, but who cares about facts when you are white supremacists obsessed w/ smearing women of color.” The rest of our media casually looked the other way.

The most interesting thing about Sarsour’s statement here is not that she is accusing reporters of racism (she does this pretty much every day), but that she is in fact admitting these donations are going to an activist PAC, not to relief efforts for hurricane victims.

The Women’s March itself sent out a link asking for donations to organizations which, again, do not seek to provide hurricane victims with direct necessities in the wake of the storm. Instead, the organizations claim they have longer term goals of providing assistance to marginalized communities around the Houston area.

MoveOn.Org sent out a similar tweet the next day. “Will you chip in to the #HurricaneHarvey relief fund?” with a link to its own website. MoveOn states that donations will go to the Texas Organizing Project as well.

Another bit of shady fundraising came from journalist, activist and Black Lives Matter supporter Shaun King who directed his Twitter followers to an unsolicited Amazon wish list.

When questioned of the origins of the list by another Twitter user, King responded: “Families in Texas made the list. Goes directly to an office. They have trucks and will deliver to areas of need.” King’s offer was also signal boosted by actress Jessica Chastain who told her Twitter followers to “buy everything”.

The reason to be skeptical of King’s personal efforts, instead of directing his followers to a verified charity, is simply because we’ve seen this kind of thing with him before. Author and Editor-at-large for the Daily Beast Goldie Taylor called King out on the website for millions in missing donations meant to go to Black Lives Matter and Haitian orphans.

This was on the heels of an argument between King and prominent activist DeRay McKesson, when McKesson questioned funds raised on King’s behalf for an organization called Justice Together.

Houston’s mayor, Sylvester Turner, has also set up his own charitable organization in response to the hurricane, though once again it’s unclear as to where any money donated would go or how it would be used.

NPR, linking to the group’s website titled The Greater Houston Community Foundation, describes it as connecting “donors with a network of nonprofits and innovative solutions in the social sector.”

The website’s state goal is even less detailed.  The link was tweeted out several times by the Texas Democrat’s account, among others, while describing it as from “The City of Houston”

The Lilith Fund, an organization that claims it will “help people in Texas pay for an abortion” sent out a tweet asking for emergency funds.

“We created an emergency fund for #HurricaneHarvey survivors facing (additional) barriers who are seeking abortion care,” the fund says, linking to a website page that simply states “EMERGENCY FUND FOR HARVEY SURVIVORS.”

As the old saying goes, never let a good crisis go to waste.

These left-wing organizations aren’t going to stop politicizing tragic events and it’s apparent by now that the media aren’t interested in exposing the stars they have spent long months building up.

All this shows that it’s important to follow longstanding advice before you donate your hard-earned dollars to a charity: make sure that what sounds like a worthy cause really is a worthy cause. Usually a Google search will give you the information you need.

Being careful about who you donate your money to is the best way to fight back against those who believe their pet causes are never put on hold. Even when the best of America is showing its face. 

Stephen L. Miller has written for Heat Street and National Review Online. Follow him on Twitter at @redsteeze.