Politics & Policy

The Politics of the NPR Boards

The data behind “Public Radio's Political Sympathies.”

The NPR Foundation board of directors has 50 members:

Antoine van Agtmael (chairman of the NPR Foundation): He is a trustee of a liberal think tank, the Brookings Institution. He donated $1,000 to Obama for America in 2008, $2,000 to Kerry in 2004, and $1,000 each to Hillary Clinton and Terry Liermann in 2000. That’s $5,000 — every penny to Democrats.

Arthur G. Altschul, Jr.: He is on the board of directors of the Overbrook Foundation, an organization founded by his family. The organization does wonderful human-rights work, but also has a liberal slant, as evidenced by its focus on sustainability and environmentalism, as well as its sponsorship of Freedom to Marry, the Pro-Choice Public Education Project, and more. He has donated to the Forward Together PAC (a blue-dog Democrat group) and Walter Minnick (Democrat from Idaho). In 2008, he donated $2,500 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and $1,500 to Hillary Clinton for President. In 2004, Altschul contributed $5,000 to theDemocratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Judith Z. Steinberg: Since 2000, her political donations have gone exclusivelyto Democrats (individual candidates and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) and EMILY’s list. She’s sent them more than $37,000 since 2007 alone.

Patsy Ishiyama: She donated $3,000 to Democrat Alan J. Dixon’s campaigns, as well as to John Bennett Johnston (D). She’s on the board of Trout Unlimited, which, according to Ron Arnold of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, has been “co-opted by environmentalist leaders . . . with extremeviews.” She’s on the boards of several other environmental groups as well.

Camilla M. Smith: This San Francisco resident gave $1,000 to Obama for America in 2008, and $1,000 to Kerry in 2004.

Jane Katcher: In 2008, Jane Katcher donated $16,400 to Democrats (including Obama) and EMILY’s List. Her donations, all of which went to Democrats, have totaled $64,000 over the past decade.

Lee Ramer: He donated $2,300 to Hillary Clinton in 2008. In 2004, he donated $1,450 exclusively to Democrats and NARAL, the pro-abortion-rights group.

Bryan Traubert: He was appointed to the White House Fellows Commission by Barack Obama. He is married to Penny Pritzker, who was the national finance chair of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. He and his wife hosteda fundraising dinner for Barack Obama in 2008, with a $28,500 price of admission. His wife was the subject of a Wall Street Journal profile, “Money Maven: Billionaire raises record amounts of cash for Obama.”

Harriett Gold: She is listed as a Democrat by voterfactory.com. She has made 9 political donations – all to either Democrat Jane Harman or EMILY’s List. She has also donated to Environment2004, Inc.

Peter Heydon: Peter Heydon donated $17,050 in the 2008 election cycle, all to Democrats, except for $750 to Schwarz for Congress (John Schwarz is a Michigan Republican). Since 2000 he’s donated about $40,000 to Democrats with small but consistent donations to Schwarz. He and his wife are prominent philanthropists, and were listed as major supporters of local politicians Jeff Irwin and Ned Staebler, both Democrats.

Miriam Muscarolas: In 2008, she donated $2,300 to the Obama Victory Fund. Since 2000, she’s donated $12,900, exclusively to Democrats and liberal women’s action committees.

Kevin Klose: He was an Obama inauguration donor. Earlier in his career, he worked for Radio Free Europe — a fact that made his tenure as president of NPR from 1998 to 2006 controversial among some Leftists.

Joseph McNay: In the mid-1990s, Joseph McNay’s firm, Essex Investment Management, managed the money of Bill and Hillary Clinton. But McNay is moderate and balanced in his donations. He’s contributed to both Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney, to both George W. Bush and John Kerry.

Paul Ginsburg: He doesn’t give much, but all of his donations have gone to Democrats. He has consistently supported Jeff Bingaman, a Democrat from New Mexico, for Senate, providing at least $6,100 since the 1980s. 

Anne Avis: In 2008, she gave over $47,000 to Democrats and liberal PACs such as ActBlue. Since 2000, she has donated at least $187,700 in federal elections, exclusively to Democrats and liberal PACs. She also donates to local candidates.

Thomas Foster: Not available.

Michael Vann: Not available.

Lee Rolfe: She has donated only $1,250, to Friends for Mike McGavick (Seattle Republican).

Lowell Lebermann (he passed away in July of 2009): He gave over $115,000, almost exclusively to Democrats, and a small donation to Romney, in 2008. From 2000 until his death he gave at least $265,900 in donations; only $11,200 went to Republicans.

William Poorvu: The vice chair of the National Public Radio Foundation, Poorvu has sent donations exclusively to Democrats and liberal PACs. This year, he’s supported only Blumenthal, but in 2008, he donated $28,500 to the Obama Victory Fund, Friends of Mark Warner, and KidsPac. He’s also helped Democrats substantially in congressional races.

Jeffrey L. Kenner: The president and founder of Kenner & Co., he donated $9,100 in 2007 — every single dollar to Democrats. Since 2000, he has donated $30,000, all going to Democrats, ActBlue, and WildPac.

Fredericka Stevenson: In 2008, she donated $4,300 — every dollar to Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Since 2000, she’s donated $16,400, $1,000 of which went to Olympia Snowe, and every other dollar to Democrats.

Barbara Linhart: Not available.

James Bildner: A partner at New Horizons Partners LLC, Bildner is involved in several different environmental-activism groups, including the National Council of Environmental Defense. In 2006, he gave $250 to Howard Katz for Congress (Katz is a Democrat from California).

Dr. Lynn C. Todmanis an academic. Her biography suggests her political sympathies: “Lynn C. Todman, Ph.D., is the director of the Adler Institute on Social Exclusion (ISE). . . . Todman’s research and teaching interests center on problems of social marginalization, isolation and exclusion experienced by urban communities.” In 2008 she donated $7,150, exclusively to Democrats Dan Seals and Barack Obama. 

Sandra Pressman: Not available.

Daniel Greenberg: The Electro Rent Corporation CEO has already donated at least $4,800 to Democratic Congressman Howard Berman this year, and several thousand more to other local Democrats. In 2008, he made 25 separate donations, totaling several tens of thousands — all to Democrats.

Henry E. Catto: A former ambassador, and now a board member at the Aspen Institute, Catto was involved in Republican politics shortly after graduating college and donated $1,000 to McCain this year in his race against J. D. Hayworth.

Noaman Sanni: Not available. 

John Lilly: The former Mozilla CEO, now at the venture-capital firm Greylock Partners, sits on the board of the Participatory Culture Foundation – whose goal is to create “non-corporate creativity.” His sole available campaign donation was $2,300 to the Obama Victory Fund in 2008.

Jonathan Kutchins: The president and CEO of the Exeter Group, he has given limited amounts exclusively to Democrats. This year, he donated $2,300 to Democrat Mike Capuano for Congress.

Nancy Sanders: She is an arts philanthropist who, according to Facebook, is a fan of Planned Parenthood and Democratic Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles.

Yvette Dubinsky: A St. Louis–based benefactress of the arts, she has given $8,200, exclusively to Democrats, since 2000.

Norman Portenoy: Not available.

Dean V. Ambrose: He has donated exclusively to Democrats, liberal PACs, and the Democratic Congressional Committee — $8,650 in total.

Dr. Peter D. Swift: Since 2000, he has given $11,000 to federal campaigns, exclusively to Democrats and PACs such as “Democracy for America.” In the 1990s, he gavesubstantially to People for the American Way and to Bill Bradley for President. With his wife, he has donated to the Institute for Sustainable Communities.

Murray Sinclaire: Not available.

John Herrmann, Jr.: This financier has donated $9,300 so far this year — every penny to Democrats Chuck Schumer, Carolyn Maloney, and Chris Murphy. Since 2000, he has made $68,200 in federal donations — every penny to Democrats except for a $500 donation to Rudy Giuliani in 2008.

Annie Callaway Davis: Before taking over as the vice president for development at NPR, she was director of corporate and foundation relations at the Brookings Institution, a liberal think-tank.

James Grant: Not available.

Eugene Rotberg: This accomplished financier is a former World Bank treasurer. Since 2000, he has donated $9,300, exclusively to Democratic candidates and PACs.

James Elder: The vice president of finance and administration, CFO, and Treasurer at NPR, Elder is, according to voterfactory.com, a Democrat.

Jane Peyrouse: The vice president at Wellington Management, Peyrouse was previously a chairperson of the Massachusetts Women’s Political Forum, and is a “Past Finance Chair of Committee to Elect Suzanne Bremer Mayor” (a progressive Democrat).

Roselyne Swig: She once worked for AIPAC, and is now a major Democratic donor. In 2010 alone she has mademore than 40 separate political donations, over $93,000 total, with only one donation ($1,000) going to a Republican. She donated over $100,000 to Democrats and pro-abortion-rights groups in both 2008 and 2006 each. Since 2000, she has donated almost $500,000 to federal elections, almost all to Democrats.

Stephen Hopkins: The former Citigroup hotshot donated $1,000 to Friends of Chris Dodd in 2004, and then $1,000 to National Leadership (a Democratic PAC affiliated with Charlie Rangel) in 2006.

Anne Mai: A self-described “marketing strategist, columnist, and community activist,” Mai has written opinion pieces for the Huffington Post including “Why the Insured Should Support Health Care Reform.”

Carolyn Swartz Bucksbaum: This Grinnell College trustee has served on the boards of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, the League of Women Voters, and the Des Moines Register. Since 2004, she has donated $5,600 — every penny to Democratic candidates and EMILY’s list.

James R. Hedges IV: In both 2000 and 2004, he donated $1,000 apiece to Bush-Cheney and Bill Bradley for President.

Sukey Garcetti: She is the executive director at the Roth Family Foundation, whose mission, according to its website, is “commitment to progressive social change.” Its focuses include the environment, “health and rights,” and sex education. Their grant recipients last year included California Latinas for Reproductive Justice. According to Huffington Post’s Fundrace blog, Garcetti donated $2,300 to Barack Obama in 2008.

Patricia Papper: She has donated over $23,500 since 2000 — every penny to Democratic candidates and EMILY’s List.

Richard Rampell: Though he used to write a column for the Wall Street Journal, his political donations are overwhelmingly Democratic. Since 2000, he has shilled out $31,250 to Democrats and liberal PACS, and only $500 to Republicans.


In addition, NPR has five “Public Members of the Board” of NPR itself (as opposed to the Foundation), who are supposed to represent the interest of the public:

Carol A. Cartwright: Cartwright, Bowling Green State University president, split her contributions evenly between Republicans and Democrats in 2006 and 2004.

John Herrmann, Jr.: He is also on the Foundation board; see his information in the list above.

Howard H. Stevenson: Since 2000, he has donated $6,000, every penny to Democrats and liberal PACs.

Lyle Logan: This financier was donating to Barack Obama as early as 2000. He has given $17,700 in political donations — exclusively to Democrats, and mostly to Barack Obama — in the past decade.

Eduardo A. Hauser: He has not been involved in U.S. politics, but has written for the Huffington Post.


The Latest