In Dan Freeman’s commentary (“Private charities do good but should be watched,” The Daily News, Jan. 12), he writes, “To assure the representation of the public interest, democratically elected bodies such as city councils, legislatures and Congress should appoint one or more members of the directorate of tax-exempt foundations.”
Government-mandated appointments are a “careful what you wish for” solution. Imagine Planned Parenthood’s reaction to a Texas state legislature appointee. Still, Freeman nails it when he states “… the power to tax is the power to control.”
Directing millions of dollars in public funds (that circumvent elected bodies) bestows enormous power and influence upon appointed board members. This ability often gets monetized in a legal but ethically gray fashion.
This financial benefit, attained without the scrutiny of an election, motivates some people to “serve the community.” Out of the public eye they, and their surrogates, lobby elected officials for appointments onto coveted boards while privately discouraging appointments of people whose advocacy for the public interest may conflict with those of private interests.
Freeman’s wish to prioritize the public interest is spot on. Let’s start by demanding elections for public board members who direct taxpayer funds that circumvent democratically elected bodies.