by Hugh Fitzgerald
The moving force on the Ben & Jerry’s board of directors, who pushed the company to end sales of its ice cream in what she calls “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” – that is, Judea and Samaria (a/k/a the “West Bank”) — is its chairman, Anuradha Mittal. It turns out that Ms. Mittal is in no position to be giving lessons in morality to anyone; it has just been discovered that she has been directing the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, of which she is vice-president, to provide funds to an NGO of which she, Anuradha Mittal, is — according to the report — the sole employee. A report on her shameless self-dealing is here: “Ben & Jerry’s board chair said accused of self-dealing to fund Palestinian group,” Times of Israel, August 30, 2021:
The Ben & Jerry’s board chair, who led the company’s recent move to stop selling ice cream in the “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” was accused of self-dealing — acting in her own interest despite fiduciary duties — to fund her own think tank and a controversial Palestinian rights group, according to a Saturday report.
Anuradha Mittal, the chair of Ben & Jerry’s board of directors since 2008, is also the vice president of the company’s nonprofit foundation, and the director of the progressive Oakland Institute think tank, the New York Post reported.
According to its website, “the Oakland Institute is an independent policy think tank bringing fresh ideas and bold action to the most pressing social, economic, and environmental issues of our time. Our research investigates land rights and theft of natural resources; analyzes the impact of so-called development schemes and international aid of donor countries and international financial institutions; promotes agro-ecological solutions; examines the impact of conservation on indigenous communities; and more. Our work is accomplished through impactful research, compelling publications, international advocacy campaigns, and a creative communications strategy.”
So far, so utterly predictive progressive do-goodism. Since the Oakland Institute has only one paid employee, Murdha Mittal, she has obviously been hard at work,”bringing fresh ideas and bold action to the most pressing social, economic, and environmental issues of our time.” That’s a quite a tall order, but apparently Ms. Mittal has been up to the task, at which she has been beavering away for the past 17 years. Naturally, as the only paid employee, she has a keen interest in fund-raising for the Oakland Institute, for she knows that most of what she raises will – save for the overhead on the institute’s offices – end up as salary and benefits for her. It would be fascinating to know what research has been done, and what reports issued, by the Oakland Institute. I have been unable to track down any examples of its “impactful research” and “ compelling publications,” and nothing, either, about he success of its “international advocacy campaigns” and “creative communications strategy.” Perhaps others will have more luck. On a page listing her “Achievements,” I find only this not terribly impressive sentence: “Anuradha Mittal has been listed as a noteworthy food institute researcher, policy analyst” by Marquis Who’s Who. ”A noteworthy food institute researcher.”
As for Ms. Mittal’s salary, from the yearly Form 990 filed by the Oakland Institute, she appears to have received the lion’s share of the $260,412 spent on salaries in 2017, the $279,863 spent in 2018, and the $322,238 in 2018; it’s unclear exactly how much of this has gone to her as salary and how much as benefits.
In 2017 and 2018, the foundation dealt out some $104,000 to the Oakland Institute, where Mittal is the only salaried employee, according to IRS filings, the report said. During those years she received a[annual] salary of $156,000, the filings showed.
The Oakland Institute was founded by Ms. Mittal in 2004. Since then she has, according to the Jerusalem Post article, been its only salaried employee, receiving $156,000 a year in both 2017 and 2018, in salary alone. How much she received between 2004 and 2017, and since 2018, in salary and benefits, is unclear.
The Virginia-based National Legal and Policy Center prepared a complaint to be submitted to the IRS over the alleged self-dealing.
“It is our contention that this a possible violation of self-dealing as Mittal is considered a disqualified person under IRS rules,” the watchdog wrote.
Self-dealing, the act of taking advantage of one’s position to conduct transactions for their own benefit rather than in the interests of a company or clients, is considered illegal.
In addition, the report said some $3,000 of the Ben & Jerry’s foundation grants went to finance the Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights in 2017.
Last year, the EU canceled a $2 million grant to the Palestinian nonprofit for refusing to sign a clause that would obligate it to ensure no terrorist organizations benefit from the funded programs.
No doubt Ms. Mittal promoted the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation’s grant to the Badil Resource Center, a group that was deemed ineligible for a grant from the EU because it refused to pledge that none of its funds would benefit terrorist organizations; that was apparently no obstacle for Ms. Anarudha Mittal.
This is what we know:
First, as the vice-chairman of the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, Ms. Mittal was the driving force behind Ben & Jerry’s refusal to allow its product to be sold in Judea and Samaria.
Second, Ms. Mittal has had enjoyed a well-paid tenure as the founder of the Oakland Institute, whose actual achievements, in “impactful research” and “compelling publications” are not at all evident, nor is there tangible evidence of her very own NGO “bringing fresh ideas and bold action to the most pressing social, economic, and environmental issues of our time.” Words, words, words. How easy it is for the Anuradha-Mittals of this world to praise and promote themselves, as they hold out their hands in Eleemosynary Position #1, to the deep-pocketed and gullible woke, happy to help her in what turns out to be in large and pertinent part, the care and feeding of Anuradha Mittal.
Third, as the vice-chair of the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, she has managed to direct large sums of money from that foundation to her very own NGO, of which, in turn, she has apparently been in some years the only paid employee, and in other years, the best-compensated of several employees. That is called self-dealing. It is illegal. Will we see calls for Anuradha Mittal to resign from the Ben & Jerry’s Board of Directors, on which she has served since 2008, receiving generous compensation that is still kept secret? Will she resign from her role as vice-chairman of the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, now that her role in directing hundreds of thousands of dollars of foundation money to her Oakland Institute has been revealed? Will the American government now take a careful look at the finances of the Oakland Institute, to see where its money comes from, and just as important, where its money has been going, especially to Anuradha Mittal and to Palestinian groups that refuse to renounce terrorism?
Questions, questions. It would be fascinating to have a complete rundown on the amounts Anuradha Mittal has been paid by the Oakland Institute, that she founded in 2004 and controlled ever since, as well as how much she is paid as a member of Ben & Jerry’s Board of Directors. And how much money has the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, of which she is vice-chairman, given to her NGO? These are all matters of great interest; it’s time that Anuradha Mittal’s goose – the preternatural one that laid those golden eggs — was cooked.
First published in Jihad Watch.