Ed. note: This story has been updated to include a statement from T. Rowe Price.
In 2015, the Schwab Charitable Trust gave Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, Virginia, $8,000 in donations, similar to amounts it gave in previous years.
The church’s school, where Second Lady Karen Pence began teaching art this week, openly discriminates against LGBTQ people. Huffington Post reported that the school explicitly bans students who practice or even condone homosexuality and requires staff to observe the “unique roles of male and female."
In a statement, Karen Pence Communications Director Kara Brooks said, “It's absurd that her decision to teach art to children at a Christian school, and the school's religious beliefs, are under attack." Brooks did not say whether Pence agrees with the school’s policies.
Charles Schwab, patriarch of the Schwab financial empire, has close ties to the Pences and the Trumps. Schwab gave more than $1 million to the Trump inauguration fund, and was a backer of the campaign.
The Pences, both Mike and Karen, have had Schwab over for dinner as part of the vice president’s fundraising, according to the New York Times.
According to the website for Charles Schwab & Co., the financial-services firm “is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer committed to diversifying its workforce.” Its policy, it says, is to provide opportunities “without regard” to factors including religion, “gender identity or expression,” marital status, and sexual orientation.
In 2016, however, the Schwab Charitable Trust changed its pattern of donations to Immanuel Bible Church. That year, its giving rose from about $8,000 every year to $117,500, according to tax records.
In 2017, the latest year for which tax records are available, the Schwab Charitable Trust also gave Immanuel Bible Church $117,500.
As a donor-advised fund, the Schwab trust lets its donors advise how their donations should be disbursed. Donor-advised funds are not required to follow such donor directives but almost always do, while offering the donors anonymity.
A donor-relations representative at the Schwab trust told TYT, “The assets are owned by Schwab Charitable, but we don’t have a say on who to grant to.”
Schwab is not the only donor-advised fund funneling anonymous donations to Immanuel Bible Church and its school.
The T. Rowe Price Program for Charitable Giving gave the school $50,000 directly in 2009. From 2011 through 2015 it gave the school $10,000 every year. In the fiscal year ending March 2015, it also gave the church itself an additional gift of $10,000. Itemized recipient lists for more recent years have not been disclosed by the T. Rowe Price charity.
A statement provided by the T. Rowe Price asset-management firm said, “The T. Rowe Price Program for Charitable Giving is an independent charitable entity, and its grants are distributed at the recommendation of its donor-advisors, so long as it’s to an IRS recognized charity and complies with U.S. laws. The Program for Charitable Giving was established by T. Rowe Price in 2000.”
While the school and its parent church have been the recipients of anonymous largesse via donor-advised funds, they have also drawn contributions from more traditional charitable organizations.
Global Impact Pres. and CEO Scott Jackson says the group’s mission is to help “the world’s most vulnerable people.” In 2016, Global Impact donated $62,865. A Washington area branch of the United Way kicked in $8,780 during the fiscal year ending June 2017.
One arm of the Combined Federal Campaign — a federal program that pools and distributes donations from government employees — has included both the church and school in its Catalog of Caring for years. The catalogs encourage federal workers to donate to listed charities. The 2017 catalog features an introduction by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson.
According to guidelines from the Office of Personnel Management, which oversees the Combined Federal Campaign, family support and youth activity programs that wish to be included must, “Have a policy and practice of nondiscrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin applicable to persons served by the organization.”
The church has not always seen eye to eye with the Trump Administration. In 2017, Immanuel Bible Church protested a provision of the Trump tax plan, because it taxed non-profit workers for the value of their parking benefits.
Jonathan Larsen is TYT's managing editor. You can find him on Twitter @JTLarsen.
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