U.S. Senate Nature Conservancy probe continues

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2004:

WASHINGTON D.C.– The U.S. Senate Finance Committee on March
3 “asked The Nature Conservancy to submit information about land
transactions, program fees and profits, tax advice offered by
attorneys and accounts, and salaries paid to contractors,”
Associated Press reported. “The letter unveiled a prong of the
committee’s broad investigation into donations of land, art, drugs,
automobiles, and other gifts,” Associated press continued. “It
also asks the organization to prove it followed the rules that let
nonprofit organizations and charities avoid taxation.”
In November 2003 Washington Post writers Joe Stephens and
David B. Ottaway reported that U.S. Senate Finance Committee had
become “particularly interested in the ‘valuation of land donations
and the conservation-buyer program,'” according to committee chair
Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa).
“The Senate inquiry began,” Stephens and Ottaway continued,
“after a Post series in May 2003 detailed how the charity had sold
scenic properties to its state trustees, who reaped large tax
breaks. Other stories disclosed that the charity engaged in
multi-million-dollar business deals with companies and their
executives while they sat on the charity’s governing board and
advisory council. The Conservancy responded by banning a range of

The issues under investigation surfaced after longtime
president John Sawhill died in 2000 and was succeeded by avid hunter
Steven J. McCormick, but many originated under Sawhill’s tenure.
Although The Nature Conservancy does not list promoting
hunting as part of its mission, it does not accept gifts of land
that come with anti-hunting, anti-trapping, and anti-fishing
caveats. Some small Nature Conservancy holdings are posted against
hunting to protect endangered species and/or surrounding properties,
but the Nature Conservancy leases other holdings to canned hunts.
The Nature Conservancy actively tries to purge “non-native”
species from many holdings, including via trapping, shooting,
poisoning, and burning.

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