I’ve spent a lot of time chronicling the duplicity of Jim Wallis.
It’s almost an axiom of politics that the cover-up raises more questions than the crime. Ask Chuck Colson about that. In the case of Jim Wallis, oddly enough, we have no crime, but we definitely have had a cover-up.
Quick background: Half-way through a July 17 WORLD column I mentioned that in 2004 Sojourners, Jim’s organization, received $200,000 from billionaire George Soros, a financier of left-wing groups that push for abortion, atheism, bigger government, and other causes. I had a printout of a page from the website of the Open Society Institute–Soros is OSI’s founder, funder, and chairman–showing the grant.
It didn’t seem to me like any big deal: Of course Soros would see the religious left as important in drawing evangelical votes away from a conservative embrace. Of course Jim would take the money in pursuit of his aims. So I was surprised by Jim’s reaction when Timothy Dalrymple, who writes for the Patheos website, asked him about my mention of Sojourners receiving funding from Soros.
Dalrymple asked, “Is there anything wrong with making common cause with the George Soroses of the world?” Jim exploded: “It’s not hyperbole or overstatement to say that Glenn Beck lies for a living. I’m sad to see Marvin Olasky doing the same thing. No, we don’t receive money from Soros.”
Jim kept insisting: “We don’t receive money from George Soros. Our books are totally open, always have been. Our money comes from Christians who support us and who read Sojourners. That’s where it comes from.”
Marvin Olasky, World Magazine’s editor and the author of the piece, goes on to chronicle Mr. Wallis’ problem with the truth, detailing the amount of money his research has shown that Soros gave to Wallis’ flagship Sojourners organization.
In an update to the piece, a Wallis spokesman came clean:
Sojourners communications manager Tim King has now acknowledged that Sojourners received funding from George Soros. King released a statement from Jim Wallis in which Jim says he “should have declined to comment” until he had checked the facts. Now that Jim has, he sees there were grants “from the Open Society Institute that made up the tiniest fraction of Sojourners’ funding during that decade–so small that I hadn’t remembered them.”
The first of the three grants, for $200,000, came at a time when Sojourners, according to its 2003 audited financial statement, had “incurred a significant amount of net losses” leading to “a negative asset balance” of $57,324 and had “adopted a strategy to generate additional sources of revenue and to reduce expenditures.” Those phrases are from “Note G” of the audited financial statement, which can be downloaded here, under the heading “Going concern.”
After repeated emails and phone calls, Soros spokeswoman Laura Silber responded to a query from WORLD’s Warren Smith about the disappearance of online records showing the Open Society Institute’s grants to Sojourners. She said the grants did occur but the reason the documents were gone is “pretty simple. We are overhauling our website.
We can’t be surprised that Sojourners is tied to George Soros… neither should we be surprised that Jim Wallis is trying to hide those ties.
Mr. Wallis is a man with a long history of trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the gullible. This episode is yet but another nail in the coffin containing his integrity.