Published by admin on 31 Dec 2010 at 03:41 am
By Barbara Forrest
The December 28 Baton Rouge Advocate ran a very nice editorial about Zachary Kopplin’s contribution to the Louisiana Coalition for Science’s successful effort to secure approval of biology textbooks for Louisiana public schools on December 7.
The newest giant-killer in state education policy? A 17-year-old student from Baton Rouge High School, who became the spokesman against new efforts to attack the theory of evolution. . . .
Enter Zack Kopplin, an earnest student who campaigned for sound science and against neo-creationism in schools. Kopplin had some help. Members of BESE were contacted by many people who want Louisiana students to learn the facts of science, not the [Louisiana] Family Forum’s mumbo-jumbo.
But the part that attracted Louisiana Family Forum (LFF) executive director Rev. Gene Mills’s attention was the editorial’s brief reference to his organization.
In an end-of-the-year fund-raising campaign to persuade donors to supply the LFF with cash, Rev. Mills seized upon the Advocate‘s reference to the LFF (with emphasis added here):
Young Kopplin’s earnest and articulate defense of science against the Family Forum, headed by the Rev. Gene Mills, one of the most powerful influences in the State Capitol these days.
Rev. Mills clearly relishes the power that he and the LFF have cultivated down at the Capitol, and he is frantically trying to raise money before the end of 2010 for the LFF’s “Ignite” campaign, which will begin in 2011 and is a transparent plan to capitalize on that power. The purpose of this campaign is, in Mills’s words, to “To Fan the Embers that remain from the November  elections into a flame that burns for generations to come.”
Potential donors can review a brochure of the plan [pdf] before they pony up in order, as Rev. Mills says in the brochure, to help the LFF “transform the culture.” His appeal becomes even more explicit, stating that the intent is to re-engage the people of Louisiana in the “culture war.”
LFF’s capacity to work in all three areas of the culture war is a unique asset that fully-leverages Covenant relationships between Policy Makers, Pastors and an Informed Public.
The three areas of the culture war that Rev. Mills hopes to expand in Louisiana — if he gets the money — are (1) the preparation of pastors and young people who are “grounded in a biblical worldview” (budget $125,000), (2) efforts to “engage the faith community across Louisiana” to advocate for “the traditional family” down at the legislature ($75,000), and (3) and a plan to hold elected officials accountable for doing what the LFF wants by distributing “250,000 voter guides” and enlisting “1500 pastors and churches” to help ($75,000).
Mills is getting some assistance in this campaign from a well-known ally who contributed an endorsement to the Ignite brochure:
LFF had another great year, scoring an impressive 31 legislative victories. Gene and his entire group do a great a job day after day, month after month, year after year showing up on behalf of Louisiana’s families. We look forward to many more pro-life, pro-family victories in the years ahead. — Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana, 9-23-2010
In his effort to get LFF supporters to part with some tax-deductible cash, Rev. Mills has been sending out a rapid-fire series of frenetic fund-raising e-mails in which he exploits the Louisiana Coalition for Science (LCFS) and the Advocate‘s editorial about Zack. On December 28, after signing off on one such e-mail to his supporters, he linked to the editorial, ignoring (of course) the nice comments about Zack but pointing to one statement that he liked:
P.S. I’ve uploaded a pdf of the Ignite plan in case you want to review it again. Click here to download it now
P.S.S. The ‘biased’ Advocate editorial gets one thing right and calls LFF, ‘One of the most powerful influences at the Capitol these days.’
Only the day before, he had sent out an e-mail that placed the Louisiana Coalition for Science in the same league as some pretty hefty national organizations in terms of what we might do to stop the LFF from saving civilization. He linked to the LCFS “Merry Kitzmas” post of December 20, which warned our readers that “The Louisiana Family Forum is not going to shrink away after one defeat. They’ll be back next year, making mischief again with the help of the Discovery Institute.”
Your support is mission critical to LFF. Ignite is one of the most aggressive campaigns LFF has undertaken. It’s designed to turn the moment that was the 2010 elections into a movement that touches the legislature, Louisiana elections and the next generation of youth leadership. (Click here to download a pdf of the plan today). . . . Groups like ‘Louisiana Coalition for Science,’ Moveon.org, and the ACLU will invest heavily to prevent LFF from igniting that transformation.
Well, now, this is interesting. We have no idea what Moveon.org and the ACLU might be planning to invest to thwart the LFF, but we know exactly what the LCFS has invested so far and plans to invest in the future. And a comparison of our revenue with the LFF’s as shown in its most recently available financial information is quite informative (see the 2008 LFF IRS 990 report [pdf]). Here it is:
Louisiana Family Forum Total Revenue 2008: $691,915
Louisiana Coalition for Science Total Revenue 2008 (and 2009, 2010, 2011, and the foreseeable future): $0.00
The LFF’s 2008 IRS 990 report (p. 24) — for the year in which it championed the Louisiana Science Education Act — indicates that this organization spent $123,926.00 — 18% of its total revenue — just on newsletters. That’s a nice little chunk of change. However, the LFF “Ignite” brochure says this (cue the violins):
LFF takes financial stewardship seriously and chooses not to spend thousands of dollars on advertising like organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. LFF relies on its supporters to spread the word, so please be sure to tell your family, friends, and church leaders about how LFF is working to ignite an enduring cultural transformation in Louisiana.
And then there’s this additional affirmation:
LFF does not accept government funding and, therefore, depends entirely on the generosity of donors to do its work.
This disavowal implies that the government makes funding available that the LFF nobly declines. But the truth is that, as a 501(c)3 non-profit entity, the LFF certainly accepts its government tax exemption, which is, in effect, money in the bank. And speaking of money in the bank, Rev. Mills is not bashful when it comes to asking for donations, even from senior citizens, as his December 29 fund-raising e-mail demonstrates:
IRA Distributions: The tax law signed on December 17, 2010, allows taxpayers age 70 or older to donate up to $100,000 of the annual required minimum distributions from their IRAs directly to a charity for both 2010 and 2011. The amount of the charitable contribution can be excluded from your taxable income.
Here, for the edification of our readers, is the truth about the Louisiana Coalition for Science’s investment to stop the LFF from exploiting public education in its “culture war”: the only thing we have to invest is the hard-earned expertise and the invaluable personal and professional time (and sometimes personal funds) of our relative handful of volunteers. And, unlike the LFF, since we are unincorporated, we don’t enjoy a federal tax exemption.
We don’t really expect the Louisiana Family Forum to congratulate Zack Kopplin and the LCFS on our victory for Louisiana science education at the BESE meeting on December 7. Nor do we begrudge the LFF its efforts to raise money. They have the freedom in our democratic system to do this, and all non-profits need donors who provide financial support. But a little more class would be very becoming to that organization.