Saturday, June 04, 2005

NYT Omits Amnesty Leaders Donations to Kerry

Byron Calame
Public Editor
The New York Times

Dear Mr. Calame:

I believe today's Times article on the war of words between Amnesty International and the Bush administration omitted some important facts.

The Times reports that "Amnesty has fired right back, pointing out that the administration often cites its reports when that suits its purposes. 'If our reports are so 'absurd,' why did the administration repeatedly cite our findings about Saddam Hussein before the Iraq war?' wrote William F. Schultz, executive director of the group's United States branch, in a letter to the editor being published Saturday in The New York Times. 'Why does it welcome our criticisms of Cuba, China and North Korea? And why does it cite our research in its own annual human rights reports?'" (Source: NY Times )

What the Times failed to additionally report is that Mr. Schultz donated $2,000, the maximum amount allowed by the Federal Election Commission, last year to Bush's Democratic opponent, Sen. John Kerry.

And Mr. Schultz was not the only Amnesty leader contributing to Kerry's campaign for the White House in 2004. The chairman of the group's board of directors, Mr. Joe "Chip" Pitts, along with other top officials of Amnesty, gave money to Kerry. Indeed, all donations from Amnesty executives went to Democratic Party candidates and causes, something not mentioned in the Times.

The Times can verify these donations at

While I am a supporter of Amnesty and its human rights work around the world, including its advocacy on behalf of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens, I find it troubling the rights group risks its nonpartisan reputation by allowing donations to politicians and political action committees. To put it mildly, there's more than an appearance of impropriety with such contributions by Amnesty leaders.

I wish that Mr. Schultz had mentioned his donations to Kerry in his letter printed in today's Times, or that the editor had seen fit to append a note about the donations, to give readers the fullest picture possible in this battle between Amnesty and the Bush administration.

On June 1 I wrote a letter to Amnesty asking for an explanation about these donations, which I posted to my blog.

So far, Amnesty has not replied.

In any event, I'd appreciate an explanation from you as to why the Times has not reported on the financial support Amnesty leaders gave last year to Kerry and his campaign for the Oval Office.

A prompt reply is requested.

Michael Petrelis
San Francisco, CA
Ph: 415-621-6267

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