Jason Sanders was an adviser to the Tides Foundation, a San Francisco philanthropy that for over three decades has been a major funding source for progressive-Left projects on issues such as global sustainability, reproductive justice, and AIDS treatment. What his employer didn’t know is that his own favorite cause was himself. This past March 25, Sanders pleaded guilty in San Francisco federal court to embezzling $132,600 from the foundation over a three-year period. He had been indicted last August following an internal audit. From February 2005 to March 2008, federal prosecutors charged, Sanders, now 38, stole funds from the nonprofit group.
The Tides Foundation, formed in 1976, has provided more than $400 million since 2000 alone to countless nonprofit groups around the world. It also generated some unwanted publicity for itself last summer, when The San Francisco Chronicle revealed founder and CEO Drummond Pike to be the unnamed donor who reimbursed, out of his personal wealth, the roughly $740,000 remaining balance of a nearly $950,000 debt owed to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN. That debt was incurred by the theft of ACORN funds during 1999-2000 by the group’s then-CFO Dale Rathke, brother of ACORN founder-chief organizer Wade Rathke. Suspected of covering for his wayward brother, Wade Rathke resigned under pressure last June. Small coincidence – Wade Rathke sits on the Tides Foundation board of directors. And he’s actually a bit player. Teresa Heinz Kerry, wife of U.S. Senator and 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, D-Mass., bankrolled Tides with more than $8 million during 1994-2005. Networking is powerful.