Gabe Kaminsky at the Washington Examiner is reporting that two U.S. nonprofit groups tied to the Global Disinformation Index are withholding information on their operations to protect staff and donors. The redactions of names from 2021 IRS tax returns is being justified on the basis that the GDI is being harassed by critics. It is an ironic move since, as discussed in earlier columns, the GDI targeted and blacklisted conservative groups to drain them of revenue and support.
As discussed earlier, the British group ranked sites to warn people about high-risk disinformation sites. The ten most dangerous disinformation sites turned out to be conservative publications or Internet sites like Reason. Conversely, HuffPost made the top list of the most trustworthy for potential advertisers.
The GDI is designed to steer advertisers and subscribers away from certain sites, working with “advertisers and the ad tech industry in assessing the reputational and brand risk when advertising with online media outlets and to help them avoid financially supporting disinformation online.” The State Department partially funded the effort. The Biden Administration gave $330 million to The National Endowment for Democracy, which partially supports the GDI’s budget.
So the GDI actively sought to target other sites to organize opposition among advertisers, but now is withholding information to prevent a similar backlash against its own operations.
The private AN Foundation, also known as the Disinformation Index Foundation, and its affiliated public charity, Disinformation Index Inc., redacted copies of their 2021 IRS tax returns. A lawyer cited a coordinated “harassment campaign” to justify the redactions.
Some of the information was known from prior disclosures. For example, GDI CEO Clare Melford and its executive director, Daniel Rogers, are listed interchangeably in Delaware corporate records and other forms list Jo Jenks as treasurer. Other records reportedly list Melford as secretary, and Rogers as president.
Other information was removed, including the redaction of who gave a $115,000 donation for this work.
GDI also removed the list of its advisory panel members from its site. Again, these individuals were perfectly willing to participate in the blacklisting of conservative groups but appear to insist on anonymity for themselves. The panel reportedly included Finn Heinrich, a division director at the George Soros-funded Open Society Foundations grant-making network, according to his LinkedIn account.
As the recipient of federal funds, the lack of transparency is troubling and is likely to be the focus of inquiries from House committees.