Colcom Foundation dropped by wealth-management firm following NYT report | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Colcom Foundation dropped by wealth-management firm following NYT report

Last week, the New York Times published a bombshell investigation into the financial giving of the late Cordelia Scaife May and the foundation she created, the Pittsburgh-based Colcom Foundation. Times reporters uncovered letters, interviews, and documents detailing the anti-immigrant and white nationalist sentiments May espoused and the support to anti-immigrant groups she gave through Colcom.

Following the report, a wealth-management firm that consulted on Colcom’s hundreds of millions in assets has dropped the foundation as a client.

Tiedemann Advisors spokesperson Julie Dunnington confirmed to City Paper that the wealth-management company is no longer working with Colcom. She says Tiedemann didn’t have knowledge of who Colcom was making grants to, and upon learning of the information published in the Times, the company severed ties with Colcom.

“Tiedemann does not work with Colcom currently,” says Dunnington. "Tiedemann previously served as an investment consultant with no role, input or knowledge of their grant making priorities. Upon learning, we resigned the client. Several of their policies are inconsistent with our views on diversity, equity and inclusion."

According to Tiedemann’s website, one of the company’s values is Diversity and Inclusion, which boasts that Tiedemann believes “all voices, regardless of background, gender, race, lifestyle, and affiliations, should be equally welcomed and respected in the workplace,” and that it “embraces equality of opportunity for all and treat every individual with fairness and dignity.”

In a letter to the editor published by the Times yesterday, Colcom's vice president wrote that Colcom "supports public education for an informed civic dialogue about the longer-term sustainable level of immigration," and insists that this "conversation not be marred by racial bias." Rohe said in a statement to CP  that "the Foundation has no tolerance for any acts of discrimination."

According to the Times, Colcom is worth $500 million and has given more than $150 million to fund anti-immigrant causes since 2005. The majority of Colcom’s philanthropy each year goes to national anti-immigrant groups, included some that are deemed hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The remaining Colcom funds usually go to local environmental nonprofits. When Pittsburgh immigrant-rights groups discovered this last December, they successfully pressured Colcom to remove its signage from the Downtown Holiday Market.

An interview published on Tiedemann’s website in May says the firm has around $18 billion under advisement. Tidemann’s website says it has $1.7 billion from endowments and foundations under management, and the firm has offices in eight states and Washington, D.C.

Colcom has defended its giving by attempting to link environmental problems to increased immigration into the U.S. In Colcom’s nonprofit application to the IRS, May wrote that environmental groups were “doomed to failure” if they didn’t understand “that the degradation of our natural world results ultimately from the press of human numbers.”

This rhetoric around “overpopulation” has since been co-opted by white nationalists, like some groups receiving funds from Colcom, and was cited as a primary motivation of the mass shooters in New Zealand and El Paso. These two mass shootings happened in countries with low population densities. If the U.S. were as densely populated as Europe, the country would have around billion residents, instead of 325 million.

The Times article also reported that Colcom provides funding to VDare, a white nationalism website operating out of Virginia. BuzzFeed News reported on Thursday that the U.S. Department of Justice sent an email to federal immigration court employees that included a link to a VDare article that “directly attacks sitting immigration judges with racial and ethnically tinged slurs.” NBC News reports the DOJ said the link was included in the email mistakenly.

Hands off Rafah protest in East Liberty
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Hands off Rafah protest in East Liberty

By Mars Johnson