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Late afternoon aerial view of the Laguna Beach, California coastline. (Photo: Matt Gush, Shutterstock)

Is California Well Endowed?

It’s All in the Eye of the Befunder

By Thomas Buckley, May 15, 2023 6:20 am

In 1996, an insurance company bought another one, the state got in the middle, and the California Endowment was born.

When Blue Cross of California acquired the for-profit subsidiary WellPoint Health Networks, state regulators demanded a non-profit health-care focused foundation be created as a condition for the deal going forward. The whys and wherefores of that demand are politically byzantine and may have started out with good intentions but the Endowment has now grown to a funding behemoth that strides California’s extremely squishy, line-blurring non-profit/civil society/foundation power morass sector like a very, very woke Colossus.

How big? $4 billion or so in the bank, and it spends $230 million or so on “worthy” causes (a big chunk of that on expenses) each year.

How woke?  Check out the Twitter page to learn that there can be no borders on stolen land, that the new Florida anti-illegal immigration law is very bad like Prop 187 was, that “climate justice is a racial justice issue,” and, of course, this:

Oh, and the Endowment joined George Soros in pushing the notorious decriminalizationpalooza that is Proposition 47, spending more than $600,000 “on a communications campaign that emphasized injustice in minority communities. The effort included a social media campaign that pitted state funding for prisons against funding for schools.” Even the Los Angeles Times noticed, calling the Endowment one of the “big five” groups that pushed the passage of the proposition.

Whether this overt political activism jibes with the Endowment’s initial health care mission could be seen as rather doubtful as the articles of incorporation – which more than emphasize health care spending – would seem to take a dim view of such activity. Article 4 of the document explicitly states that: “No substantial part of the activities of this corporation shall consist of carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting to influence legislation…”

When asked, Endowment chief communications officer Sarah Reyes said that “The definition of health is not just health care, it is shown through research and other health experts that the place where you live, work, go to school, play, etc. can have both negative and positive impact on your health.”

By that definition – a definition so broad as to belie the meaning of the word ‘definition’ – everything technically, no matter how tangential, not matter how not actually in keeping with the point of the Endowment’s creation, is health care.

Crossing the street?  Well, legs to walk, eyes to look out for cars, and a hospital if you got hit by a bus – all health care related.

Sitting in a chair and staring for an hour? Well, there’s that part of you sit on, not exercising is bad, and maybe even a sign of loneliness-related mental health issues – all health care related.

Going into the voting booth?  Well, you get the drift…

The movement to broaden original intents and meanings to make society’s entire existence only about “health and safety” has been growing for years, but has obviously gone into overdrive in the past few with the twin scourges of climate change and COVID (sooo many examples for both you probably do not need any specific links) leading the charge.

Of course, the two are coming together at the next United Nations “COP28” climate summit.  

By insisting that whatever you happen to be doing or are in favor of requires utter primacy in society or EVERYONE WILL DIE is an extremely effective tool to both amass power and dismiss and denigrate anyone who disagrees with you as uncaring and evil, and, right now, is most likely squirming with glee watching other people suffer.

Donning the cloak of do-goodery to mask political motives is a typical tactic of the new progressive/equitarian movement, as the mantle of health and safety is very handy when you want to be seen doing the right thing while what you are actually doing is slithering your power and prestige throughout society.

It also helps cover another inconvenient truth – there’s gold in them there oppresions!

Longtime Endowment chief Robert Ross is paid more than $800,000 a year, the chief investment officer clears more than $1 million, and the 140 or so employees make, on average, about $200,000 per year in pay and benefits. Each.

For an equity-driven organization, the Endowment has a very inequitable funding policy.  Like a fancy country club, you can’t just walk up the front door and ask to be let in: “The California Endowment does not accept unsolicited letters of intent or proposals. Funding opportunities are by invitation only.”

The obvious and reprehensible power dynamic created by that rule is astonishing – imagine what a potential recipient of the Endowment’s largess will do to grease the right people, to get a foot in the door and imagine what they will do to stay in the good graces of that pile of caring cash.

As with so many other very very well connected California foundations and institutions, the Endowment is able to both change policy in Sacramento and carry out the policy and funding wishes of the ruling capitol blob when they legally or politically cannot.  

Whether or not the Endowment is at blob’s beck and call to carry out political tasks that must be done with putatively private money – the direct rewarding of supporters, the crushing of opponents – or to give the “non-partisan” stamp of approval that many obscene ideas (i.e. Prop. 47) need as a kind “exit visa” to get past the public, cannot be said with any certainty.  

What is certain is that that type of practice – from behested donations to political family run “non-profits” – is rife in Sacramento.  In fact, it is the bedrock of current California politics.

The Endowment does fund actual direct health care projects; for example, there is Acupuncturists Without Borders, a Portland-based group that sends acupuncturists around the world to help respond to natural disasters and such, though one has to wonder how sticking a pin in the ear of a person who just watched their house float away will do much good.

But it spends an enormous amount of money (a large percentage of its total giving pool, though exactly how large would depend upon one’s own political viewpoint)  on what can only be described as poorly disguised influence machines.

Speaking of influence machines, it has even paid media outlets (Nope, not the Globe – they haven’t even called…) directly, and not just for ads.  The Sacramento Bee, CalMatters, the Asian American Journalists Association, Advance Democracy – a journalism-centered group that, in part, “investigates entities undermining the global consensus on climate change…,” and many others have all taken Endowment funds.  Whether or not this has colored their coverage of the Endowment is unknown, though considering the precarious financial state of most media outlets presently the notion cannot be dismissed out of hand.

On the more unabashedly political side, cash recipients include the ACCE Institute of Los Angeles, which is dedicated to “working with allies to make headway on the meaning-making front of power building, (? – you’re guess is as good as mine)” and the Chinese Progressive Association (San Francisco) which helped form SFRising, a group that produces election voter guides and “builds the political power of working-class communities and communities of color in San Francisco to lead the way for government that centers racial, economic and environmental justice.”

And, since it is in California, the Endowment wokes very closely with the Tides Foundation, one of the top progressive funding firehoses.

For all of the more recent recipients, you will find the Endowment’s loooong latest federal tax filing (form 990) at the bottom of this article.

The Endowment – charitably described by InfluenceWatch as “left leaning,” also regularly gives money to the ACLU, won awards for it Obamacare commercials, and plays heavily in the trans-activism sandbox.

It even appears the Endowment isn’t really trying to hide its probably impermissible political playground. The Social Bond program has a number of goals to “advance racial justice and health equity” in the next decade, including being able to “Strengthen and grow power-building infrastructure that centers organizing for transformative systems change.”

In fact, one of the features of the Endowment is to create an “ecosystem to build power and advance health and racial equity.”  To see exactly how that will be done, click here for a helpful PDF.

In case there is any question remaining, checking in again on the Twitter page should answer those rather rapidly.

When little activists are born from their revolutionary mothers, we’re building generational movements! All power to the youth, all power to the people!

Today we joined thousands of Angelenos with the Los Angeles LGBT Center in support of our queer and trans siblings. This comes amid anti-LGBTQ legislation being talked about (or passed) nationwide. Our communities deserve safety.

Join us and Justice, Care, & Opportunities at “A Healing Space,” an event with activities to foster wellbeing, creative expression, and connection as acts of resistance!

Happy(?) President’s Day…

United together against all forms of bigotry. Together we can create a healthier and more equitable society.

But none of this is at odds with the articles of incorporation (below), nor is it an ethical abomination by spending health care money on personal and societal power, and the Endowment is definitely not a poster-child for brazen, self-serving woke hypocrisy.

It seems California is not very well endowed at all.

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3 thoughts on “Is California Well Endowed?

  1. California is DEFINITELY well-endowed with progressive GRIFTERS that enrich themselves personally while stirring up racial and socio-economic dissent in their chosen “communities”, which they count on for votes ….

    Thank you for shining the proverbial light on these cockroaches in our midst….

  2. How about a proposition to ELIMINATE this pack of grifters and shakedown artists sponsored by the state???? And put the money they have in the bank to pay down the state deficit.

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