Tides Foundation and Tides Center 
Excerpted from 57 Varieties of Radical Causes

By Ben Johnson
September 2004


The Tides Foundation is a tax-exempt charity established in 1976 by antiwar activist Drummond Pike. It distributes millions of dollars in grants every year to political organizations identified with leftwing causes. Among these are United for Peace and Justice, a group led by pro-Castro activist Leslie Cagan; the National Lawyers Guild; the Center for Constitutional Rights; and the Council for American-Islamic Relations, three of whose executives have been indicted for terrorist activities.


The Tides Foundation and its closely allied Tides Center distributed nearly $66 million in grants in 2002 alone. The Tides Center was spun off from the Foundation but is also run by Drummond Pike. The Tides Center, the Foundation,and two other entities under the Tides roof collaborate as partners. There is a technical – but insignificant – separation between the Tides Foundation and the Tides Center. From 1994 – 2004, the Heinz Endowments, which Teresa Heinz Kerry heads, have given the Tides entities $8.1 million in grants. Until February 2001, Kerry was also a trustee of the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Carnegie has given Tides numerous six-figure grants.


Tides allows donors to anonymously contribute money to a variety of causes -- and thereby avoid public accountability for their donations. The donor simply makes the check out to Tides and instructs the Foundation where to forward the money. Tides does so, often keeping as much as ten percent of the total amount for “charitable advisory fees.” This allows high-profile individuals to fund extremist organizations by “laundering” their money through Tides, leaving no paper trail. Founder Drummond Pike referred to his organization as “a convenient vehicle with squeaky clean books.”


The entities the Tides Foundation has chosen to fund are overwhelmingly leftwing. The so-called “legal left” (its own referent) has been a prime beneficiary of Tides largesse. One of its principal beneficiaries, for example, is the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), which began as a Communist front organization and remains proud of its lineage. Its national convention in October 2003 featured a keynote address from Lynne Stewart, a lawyer specializing in defending terrorists who has been indicted by the Justice Department for providing “material support” to sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, whose organization, known as the Islamic Group, bombed the World Trade Center in 1993, killing six people and injuring more than a thousand.


Stewart is on record supporting terrorism against defenders of “capitalism” and “racism.” “I don’t believe in anarchist violence but in directed violence,” she told the New York Times in 1995. “That would be violence directed at the institutions which perpetuate capitalism, racism, sexism, and at the people who are the appointed guardians of those institutions and accompanied by popular support.” In her National Lawyers Guild keynote address, Stewart said she and her NLG comrades were carrying on a proud tradition of their forebears, past and present:

“And modern heroes, dare I mention? Ho and Mao and Lenin, Fidel and Nelson Mandela and John Brown, Ché Guevara…Our quests like theirs are to shake the very foundations of the continents.”

More recently, the NLG has endorsed the “March 20 [2004] call to End Colonial Occupation from Iraq to Palestine & Everywhere” organized by International ANSWER (a Stalinist front group), and the NLG website has posted a legal petition for “Post-Conviction Relief” for convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.


Along with George Soros and the Ford Foundation, Tides has also funneled tens of thousands of dollars to the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), an organization established by Sixties radicals William Kunstler and Arthur Kinoy. Prior to creating the Center, the two floated a plan to establish a new “Communist Party.” Not surprisingly, the old Communist Party has enjoyed a close relationship with the Center. In 1999, the party publication People’s Weekly World honored CCR Executive Director Ron Daniels alongside a member of the CPUSA national committee. Daniels, who was Deputy Campaign Manager for Jesse Jackson’s 1988 presidential run and the 1992 presidential candidate of the Peace and Freedom Party, has a longstanding cordial relationship with racist, anti-Semitic “poet laureate” Amiri Baraka.


Echoing Tides’ mission statement, the Center claims it is “committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.” Since 9/11, the CCR has channeled its efforts into fighting the Bush administration’s every Homeland Security measure. The Center’s lawyers opposed increasing the government’s ability to wiretap Islamists suspected of plotting terrorism and bemoaned the sequestering of terrorist detainees at Guantanamo Bay as an inexcusable form of “racial profiling.” CCR President Michael Ratner has portrayed American foreign policy as the real cause of 9/11, because it allegedly provoked the terrorists. The CCR has also defended Lynne Stewart’s “innocence” in aiding Sheikh Rahman’s Islamic Group and filed an amicus brief on her behalf.


Immediately after 9/11, Tides formed a “9/11 Fund” to advocate a “peaceful national response” to the opening salvos of war. The Foundation replaced the 9/11 Fund with the “Democratic Justice Fund,” which was established with the aid of George Soros’ Open Society Institute. (Soros, a currency speculator and drug legalization advocate, is a major contributor to Tides, having donated more than $7 million.)


Tides has also given grant money to the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Ostensibly a “Muslim civil rights group,” CAIR is in fact one of the leading anti-anti-terrorism organizations in the United States. CAIR regularly opposes American efforts to fight terrorism, claiming that Homeland Security measures are responsible for an undocumented surge in “hate crimes.”


CAIR officials have reason to fight Bush’s anti-terrorism measures: all too many CAIR officials are on the record supporting terrorist organizations. CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad openly stated in 1994, “I am a supporter of the Hamas movement.” Community Affairs Director Bassem K. Khafagi pleaded guilty to charges of visa and bank fraud in connection with terrorist support activities. Randall Royer, a Communications Specialist and Civil Rights Coordinator at CAIR, was arrested along with a group of Islamic radicals in Virginia for allegedly planning violent anti-American jihad. CAIR has defended terrorist “charities” shut down by the Bush administration. CAIR’s abysmal record led Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to observe that its leaders have “intimate links with Hamas…we know CAIR has ties to terrorism.


Tides established an Iraq Peace Fund and a Peace Strategies Fund to finance the antiwar movement. These projects fueled MoveOn.org, the website that featured two separate commercials portraying President Bush as Adolf Hitler. The antiwar movement often boasted that MoveOn.org and the website Indymedia provided them “alternate media coverage.” Indymedia, an enormous news and events bulletin board with local pages in most of the world’s major cities, provided a vital link for radical activists, often with violent agendas, to coordinate their protests. Indymedia received $376,000 from the Tides Foundation.


Tides also runs another “alternative media source,” the Institute for Global Communications, which describes itself as “a project of the Tides Center, a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization.” The IGC was the leading provider of web technology to the radical left during the 1990s. With Tides money, the IGC’s Canadian affiliate used an undersea cable to connect Castro’s Cuba to the Internet in 1991.


The IGC’s website links to such “recommended sites” as that of the War Resisters League, a group that focuses on non-payment of taxes as a form of protest, and the American Friends Service Committee. It also links to Ramsey Clark’s International Action Center (IAC), a front for the Workers World Party, which is a Marxist-Leninist vanguard that supports Slobodan Milosevic and North Korean strongman Kim Jong-Il. The IAC is the force behind International ANSWER, which sponsored the major antiwar (and anti-Bush) rallies in the days before Operation Iraqi Freedom.


When ANSWER was outed as a Communist organization in the fall of 2002, Tides beneficiary United for Peace and Justice was created as its “moderate” alternative. UFPJ was created in the offices of People for the American Way, an a organization also funded by Tides at its inception. UFPJ was headed by longtime Communist Party member and pro-Castro activist Leslie Cagan who maintained her membership in the Party after the fall of the Berlin Wall. UFPJ co-founder Medea Benjamin also made the pilgrimage to Castro’s island gulag, saying the contrast with her own country “made it seem like I died and went to heaven.” The Tides-funded “A Better Way Project,” has also coordinated efforts of United for Peace and Justice and the Win Without War Coalition, another radical group.


The confluence of PAW, Win Without War, George Soros and Tides is a typical example of well-financed, overlapping radical causes uniting to oppose a Republican president. Tides-funded groups have even specifically targeted the Republican National Convention in New York City for violence. Since 1999, the Tides Foundation has donated $150,000 in grants to the Ruckus Society, a violent anarchist group. Along with Medea Benjamin’s Global Exchange, Ruckus wreaked havoc on Seattle during the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting, causing thousands of dollars in property damage through “direct action.” Executive Director John Sellers defended his actions in the pages of Mother Jones, saying, “I think you can be destructive, you can use vandalism strategically.” Ruckus now teaches these techniques to other “activists.” Among the topics taught at Ruckus boot camps are “street blockades,” “police confrontation strategies” and “using the media to your advantage.” Its most recent project is protesting the Republican Party’s 2004 convention. 


The Tides Center describes its political agenda in this way: “For more than twenty years, Tides Center has been working with new and emerging charitable organizations who share our mission of striving for positive social change.” (This is very similar to the Center for Constitutional Rights’ mission statement.) The Tides Foundation defines this as “strengthening…the progressive movement through innovative grantmaking.”


Teresa Heinz Kerry’s palpable support literally put Tides on the map in Pennsylvania. As part of the $8.1 million that Ms. Kerry has bequeathed to Tides over the last ten years, the combined Heinz Endowments (composed of the Howard Heinz Endowment and the Vira I. Heinz Endowment) donated $1.6 million to establish the Tides Center for Western Pennsylvania, allowing the San Francisco-based Tides Center to set up shop in Pittsburgh.


Tides employees saw this windfall “as a great opportunity to encourage a progressive social agenda,” said Jo DeBolt, director of the Tides Center of Western Pennsylvania. Although any non-profit group can apply for Tides’ services, DeBolt says, “We look at mission fit as the No. 1 cut.”


In a field with as much oversight as philanthropy, every grant is weighed with careful deliberation, every associated project plotted with exacting care. The Tides Center is dedicated to funding the political left.