It’s the Elmer Gantry syndrome where the preacher takes to sin. That preachiest of moralistic organizations -- Greenpeace -- has taken to sin, big-time. That’s according to the Public Interest Watch (search), the non-profit watchdog organization on non-profit organizations.

Greenpeace is among the most visible non-profits. But it’s been among the least looked at.

As PWI states, the public has been inundated by corporate outrages, notably the illegal shenanigans of MCI, Worldcom, Enron, and Tyco.

Big corporations are targeted by the media and law enforcement constantly, as they should be. But not so non-profits. As PWI puts it well, “precious little has been said about the equally murky depths of the world of non-profits.” Many operate multi-million dollar budgets, yet “non-profits thus far have escaped the same level of scrutiny given their corporate counterparts.”

Many find Greenpeace’s (search) actions abominable. But few have known that they may also be illegal. PWI found them violating their tax-exempt status: “Greenpeace used its complex corporate structure to divert over $24 million in tax-exempt contributions for use in non-qualifying programs.”

Such “programs” -- to use PWI’s ginger euphemism -- include such actions as:

--Blockading a naval base, military port and cargo ship for transporting American military troops and equipment around the time of the Iraq war;

--Breaking into the central control building of a nuclear power station; and

--Padlocking a government research farm.

Such deeds are justified by Greenpeace’s ideology, which impels its members to stop genetically modified “Franken-foods,” the war in Iraq, and nuclear power. Moreover, all such actions are -- so says PWI -- funded by illegal means.

The lawlessness of the Greenpeace actions -- breaking into top-security facilities, blockading ports and ships, and the like -- are presumably being investigated by law enforcement authorities.

Now the alleged lawlessness of the Greenpeace finances need to be investigated by the IRS. More than $24 million in tax-exempt contributions -- required by law to go exclusively to religious, educational, scientific, literary, or charitable purposes -- are said to go to Greenpeace’s “direct action campaign.”

The real outrage should come from -- and go to -- the foundations which support such objectionable Greenpeace actions and finances. Most of its fund-raising dollars come, obviously, from the left -- the foundations of Ted Turner, Stewart Mott, the Rockefeller brothers and the Rockefeller Foundation.

But some funds come from foundations established by quite responsible individuals.

For instance, can one even imagine David Packard -- who served President Nixon so ably during the Vietnam War as Deputy Secretary of Defense – wanting his hard-earned money to fund Greenpeace’s blocking of ships and equipment going to support U.S. troops engaged in combat? Yet the David and Lucile Packard Foundation is listed as a Greenpeace funder, along with the MacArthur Foundation, and that of best-selling author Steven King.

Raising this issue makes a lot of sense. Where’s a hard-charging investigative Congressional hearing, just when we need it?

Kenneth Adelman is a frequent guest commentator on Fox News, was assistant to U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld from 1975 to 1977 and, under President Ronald Reagan, U.N. ambassador and arms-control director. Mr. Adelman is now co-host of TechCentralStation.com.