Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry is the U.S. Senate’s most liberal member. But his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, looks to be even farther out there on the left, judging from her charitable giving. Over the years, she has poured nearly $6 million into the San Francisco–based Tides Foundation, a kind of front philanthropy, founded by California activist Drummond Pike in 1976, that collects money from donors and channels it to left-wing causes in ways that make the original funders hard to trace directly, shielding them somewhat from accountability.

The Tides Foundation gives to causes to the left—sometimes way to the left—of the Democratic Party mainstream. It has been a big supporter (to the tune of $1 million over the last three years) of the nation’s “living wage” movement, which seeks to force urban firms to pay up to double the minimum wage—a sneaky way of bringing socialist economics to America’s cities. Tides has also helped bankroll environmentalist radicalism, shelling out $205,000 over a two-year period to the Ruckus Society, a wacky anarchist Green organization, and nearly half a million over the past decade to the alarmist National Resources Defense Council, responsible for the Alar scare a while back—which wrongly convinced people that eating apples sprayed with the chemical put them at higher risk of getting cancer. Growers needlessly lost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Most recently, Tides has donated $500,000 to set up the Iraq Peace Fund, which contributes to a motley assortment of hard-left groups that opposed the Iraq War. Among the recipients:, the George Soros–funded outfit that notoriously featured ads on its website comparing President Bush with Hitler.

Responding to criticism, Mrs. Kerry has downplayed her Tides connection, emphasizing that the foundation used her money mostly to support mainstream conservationist and environmental groups in western Pennsylvania, home of her first husband’s family fortune. Tides founder Pike claims that Mrs. Kerry’s money didn’t fund anti-war efforts. But why then did she funnel her giving through Tides, instead of making direct grants through her Heinz family foundation? After all, that philanthropy already openly gives hundreds of thousands of dollars to centrist western Pennsylvania Green organizations.

John Kerry may find his wife’s radical ties a problem as the presidential race kicks into high gear.


City Journal is a publication of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research (MI), a leading free-market think tank. Are you interested in supporting the magazine? As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, donations in support of MI and City Journal are fully tax-deductible as provided by law (EIN #13-2912529).

Further Reading

Up Next